The best children’s picture books about playing outside

Wendy BooydeGraaff Author Of Salad Pie
By Wendy BooydeGraaff

Who am I?

I love the outdoors, and there are so many benefits to playing, imagining, and being outside. I grew up on a fruit farm in Southern Ontario, so I spent much of my growing years playing outdoors and enjoying the natural world. When I became a professional educator, I read the research about the very concrete benefits being outside every day has on young learners. Bring on the recess! Books have a way of sparking action. When we read about how someone else enjoys the outdoors, it makes us want to do the same. Books are inspiring.


I wrote...

Salad Pie

By Wendy BooydeGraaff, Bryan Langdo (illustrator),

Book cover of Salad Pie

What is my book about?

Maggie is determined to make Salad Pie at the playground—alone. But then Herbert appears. He wants to play. Maggie resists. Herbert watches and waits. Maggie’s imagination flourishes with the attention. Then, Salad Pie tumbles down, Herbert saves the day, and an unexpected friendship begins.

The books I picked & why

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The Tea Party in the Woods

By Akiko Miyakoshi,

Book cover of The Tea Party in the Woods

Why this book?

The Tea Party in the Woods is an homage to Little Red Riding Hood, but with a twist. Kikko sets off to bring her grandmother a pie and comes upon a magical tea party in the woods where all of the woodland creatures politely welcome and share their spread. Instead of being a victim of a cautionary tale, Kikko’s grandmother applauds her bravery in traveling on her own. The woods, by the way, are not scary or dangerous at all.


The Mushroom Fan Club

By Elise Gravel,

Book cover of The Mushroom Fan Club

Why this book?

The Mushroom Fan Club is a quirky nonfiction book about hunting for mushrooms that will make you laugh! The mushrooms “look like aliens from outer space” and the illustrations prove it.  Facts, diagrams, and fun incidents the author has experienced with her children encourage the reader to try mushroom hunting. But even if you don’t want to hunt, mushroom by mushroom, Gravel will convince everyone that mushrooms are indeed very cool.


Wonder Walkers

By Micha Archer,

Book cover of Wonder Walkers

Why this book?

Wonder Walkers is an inquisitive book that explores the natural world from morning to night. Two siblings walk past mountains, a lake, a grove of trees, and ask questions: “Are trees the sky’s legs?” “Are rivers the earth’s veins?” Coupled with lush collage and ink illustrations, this book explores the outdoors in a unique and playful way.


Ten Ways to Hear Snow

By Cathy Camper, Kenard Pak (illustrator),

Book cover of Ten Ways to Hear Snow

Why this book?

Ten Ways to Hear Snow commemorates the sounds of winter. Lina sets off alone to visit her grandmother (another Little Red Riding Hood reference!) the morning after a blizzard. As she walks through the neighbourhood, she notices the sounds snow makes while building a snowman, shoveling snow, and more. At her grandma’s place, they form a new point of connection because her grandma can’t see well and so relies on listening.


We All Play

By Julie Flett,

Book cover of We All Play

Why this book?

We All Play is a gorgeously simple book that celebrates the ways in which animals and children move. Bear cubs wiggle and wobble, and so do children! A few Cree words are sprinkled throughout, drawing attention to the connection among all living creatures. From start to finish, this book takes place outside.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in sound, ecology, and animals?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about sound, ecology, and animals.

Sound Explore 16 books about sound
Ecology Explore 42 books about ecology
Animals Explore 137 books about animals

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Herman Klein and the Gramophone, Perfecting Sound Forever, and Tuning the Human Biofield if you like this list.