100 books like Outside in

By Deborah Underwood, Cindy Derby (illustrator),

Here are 100 books that Outside in fans have personally recommended if you like Outside in. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Flood of Kindness

Janie Reinart Author Of When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children

From my list on hope-filled children’s stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a word gatherer. I can sweet-talk a phrase here and surprise a pun there—finding the words to hold a feeling. I revel in playing with words for the sheer joy of writing. My passion is cultivating the heart-to-heart writer/reader connection. A joy-bringer, my glass is always half-full. A former Poetry Day Liaison for OCTELA (Ohio Teachers of English Language Arts), a Teacher Consultant with the National Writing Project, educator, author, and poet, I share hope-filled stories and poems.

Janie's book list on hope-filled children’s stories

Janie Reinart Why did Janie love this book?

I appreciate the gentle way Ellen Leventhal empowers children in this picture book—showing even the youngest child can do small things to help others. Charlotte, the main character, her parents, and her toy bear arrive at the shelter after evacuating their home because of flooding. Charlotte watches people at the shelter and in the community share acts of kindness with the flood victims. Even though she is sad and upset, she follows their example. When Charlotte sees a younger child crying because his teddy was lost in the flood, she gives her stuffie to the little boy. It reminds me of how attached my two-year-old grandson is to his teddy bear. These small gestures shine a light of healing and hope during a natural disaster. 

By Ellen Leventhal, Ellen Leventhal, Blythe Russo (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Flood of Kindness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Perfect for all children experiencing loss or grief, A Flood of Kindness gracefully confronts difficult feelings and celebrates the healing power of kindness.

"The night the river jumped its banks, everything changed."

So begins A Flood of Kindness, a poignant picture book that addresses grief and loss and demonstrates how kindness can bring hope. Written in spare prose and told from an intimate first-person point of view, the story follows Charlotte, a young girl who watches floodwaters rise in her home and is forced to evacuate to a storm shelter with her parents. Kind people she doesn't know give her…


Book cover of Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature

Natascha Biebow Author Of The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons

From my list on inventors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love to get kids fired up about true stories, using their imaginations and believing in themselves as future innovators, inventors, and creators. Crayola crayons inventor Edwin Binney's story is a fabulous springboard for exploring nature, color and creativity. I love to draw and make stuff just like Binney, so his story resonated with me. The more I researched, the more I admired how he listened to what people needed and looked to nature for inspiration. I am intrigued by the origins of everyday objects. Here are some books that inspired me when I was writing, and that have that fascinating a-ha moment that spurs on innovation.

Natascha's book list on inventors

Natascha Biebow Why did Natascha love this book?

Featuring ten inventions inspired by nature, this book explores how scientists, architects, and engineers can find innovative solutions right there, in the world around them. For example, the shape of the kingfisher’s beak helped to design a quieter, speed-busting Japanese train, and the tiny Namibian beetle, a way to collect drinking water in the desert. At a time when people are increasingly disconnected from nature and our planet is endangered, these true stories are a fantastic and humbling reminder of how clever nature really is and what we can gain if we stop to look, listen and innovate. 

By Kristen Nordstrom, Paul Boston (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mimic Makers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Young readers will be captivated by the contemporary inventors and inventions featured, and inspired to incorporate biomimicry into their own designs.”
—Miranda Paul, author of One Plastic Bag and Water is Water

Who's the best teacher for scientists, engineers, AND designers? Mother nature, of course!

When an inventor is inspired by nature for a new creation, they are practicing something called biomimicry. Meet ten real-life scientists, engineers, and designers who imitate plants and animals to create amazing new technology. An engineer shapes the nose of his train like a kingfisher's beak. A scientist models her solar cell on the mighty…


Book cover of A Plan for the People: Nelson Mandela's Hope for His Nation

Janie Reinart Author Of When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children

From my list on hope-filled children’s stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a word gatherer. I can sweet-talk a phrase here and surprise a pun there—finding the words to hold a feeling. I revel in playing with words for the sheer joy of writing. My passion is cultivating the heart-to-heart writer/reader connection. A joy-bringer, my glass is always half-full. A former Poetry Day Liaison for OCTELA (Ohio Teachers of English Language Arts), a Teacher Consultant with the National Writing Project, educator, author, and poet, I share hope-filled stories and poems.

Janie's book list on hope-filled children’s stories

Janie Reinart Why did Janie love this book?

Lindsey McDivitt’s lyrical language and Charly Palmer’s powerful illustrations go hand in hand drawing me into the storytelling of this picture book biography. I need to read books and be inspired by ordinary people who do extraordinary things. The story tells us how Nelson Mandela missed his wife and five children after being unjustly imprisoned for 27 years but continued his education during his years in prison. Nelson Mandela is an example for all of us showing the characteristics of leadership—courage, love, understanding, patience, sacrifice, hard work, and a passion for freedom from an unjust apartheid system for non-white citizens. His desire was for unity and freedom for everyone. Nelson Mandela’s example gives us hope for the world.

By Lindsey McDivitt, Charly Palmer (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Plan for the People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

Kirkus Starred Review: “Beautiful, informative, essential.”
School Library Journal Starred Review: “Highly recommended for libraries that need titles about the ongoing global fight against racism.”

As Nelson Mandela lived and worked under the unjust system of apartheid, his desire for freedom grew.  South Africa separated people by races, oppressing the country’s non-white citizens with abusive laws and cruel restrictions. Every day filled Mandela with grief and anger. But he also had hope—hope for a nation that belonged to everyone who lived in it. 

From his work with the African National Congress, to his imprisonment on Robben Island, to his extraordinary…


Book cover of Branches of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Janie Reinart Author Of When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children

From my list on hope-filled children’s stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a word gatherer. I can sweet-talk a phrase here and surprise a pun there—finding the words to hold a feeling. I revel in playing with words for the sheer joy of writing. My passion is cultivating the heart-to-heart writer/reader connection. A joy-bringer, my glass is always half-full. A former Poetry Day Liaison for OCTELA (Ohio Teachers of English Language Arts), a Teacher Consultant with the National Writing Project, educator, author, and poet, I share hope-filled stories and poems.

Janie's book list on hope-filled children’s stories

Janie Reinart Why did Janie love this book?

The true story of the survivor tree—the pear tree that survived the 9/11 attack—is tenderly told by Ann Magee. As a mom of a veteran, it takes me back to that time. After this tragedy, my youngest son enlisted in the National Guard and was eventually deployed. His motivation? “There’s all the more reason now,” he replied. The tree’s resilience represents the strength of our nation and its helpers. This picture book is a beautiful tribute to all first responders and gives us hope for the future.

By Ann Magee, Nicole Wong (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Branches of Hope as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“This true-life fable about a tree that survived 9/11 commemorates the attack while evoking a resilient spirit and the healing power of nature."
—Carole Boston Weatherford, author of Newbery Honor book BOX

“Branches of Hope is a tribute to resilience and hope, a gentle way to talk with our youngest readers about the memory of 9/11.”
—Kate Messner, author of The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World's Coral Reefs

The branches of the 9/11 Survivor Tree poked through the rubble at Ground Zero. They were glimpses of hope in the weeks after September 11, 2001.

Remember and honor the events of…


Book cover of The Hike

Miri Leshem-Pelly Author Of A Feather, a Pebble, a Shell

From my list on picture books about hiking in nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a family of nature lovers and went with my parents and my brother on numerous nature hikes. These are my most precious childhood memories. I learned as a child to appreciate nature, I was fascinated by wild animals and inspired by the beauty of the natural world. As I grew up, I became more and more aware of how fragile the natural world is today and how important it is to protect it. This is one of the main motivators for me to create books for kids that will inspire them to love and respect nature.

Miri's book list on picture books about hiking in nature

Miri Leshem-Pelly Why did Miri love this book?

I loved this book because it is so full of surprises and fun things to discover!

Reading the book felt like going on a nature hike. When I’m in nature I always look for the little discoveries–an insect, a special plant, a beautiful bird, mysterious footprints. And this sweet book is full of such discoveries.

I got inspiration from the book and ideas for fun activities to do in nature, and I loved the three fun characters of the traveling sisters, I wish I could join them on a hike!

By Alison Farrell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Hike as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

With lyrical language that captures the majesty of the natural world coupled with fun narrative featured throughout, this spirited picture book tells the victorious story of three girls' friendship-and their tribulations and triumphs in the great outdoors. Here is the best and worst of any hike: from picnics to puffing and panting, deer-sighting to detours. Featuring a glossary, a sketchbook by one of the characters, abundant labels throughout, and scientific backmatter, this book is a must-have for budding scientists, best friends, and all adventurers. And it proves, as if proof were needed, what epic things can happen right in your…


Book cover of Hike

Miri Leshem-Pelly Author Of A Feather, a Pebble, a Shell

From my list on picture books about hiking in nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a family of nature lovers and went with my parents and my brother on numerous nature hikes. These are my most precious childhood memories. I learned as a child to appreciate nature, I was fascinated by wild animals and inspired by the beauty of the natural world. As I grew up, I became more and more aware of how fragile the natural world is today and how important it is to protect it. This is one of the main motivators for me to create books for kids that will inspire them to love and respect nature.

Miri's book list on picture books about hiking in nature

Miri Leshem-Pelly Why did Miri love this book?

I really like wordless books, and I find this one of the most beautiful and enjoyable in this genre. The topic of a day trip in nature is suitable for the concept of a wordless book because it conveys the silent yet powerful experience of exploring nature.

I loved the range of emotions that the book sparked in me, which are very familiar to me from my own hikes–the excitement of discovering a wild animal, the sense of wonder in front of a breathtaking view, the fear of a challenging moment like crossing a stream over a log, the satisfaction of success when conquering the fear, and the pleasure of sharing the trip with someone you love.

The illustrations are charming and full of hidden details to discover.

By Pete Oswald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hike as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Take to the trails for a celebration of nature - and a day spent with Dad.

In the cool and quiet early light of morning, a father and child wake up. Today they're going on a hike. Follow the duo into the mountains as they witness the magic of the wilderness, overcome challenges, and play a small role in the survival of the forest. By the time they return home, they feel alive - and closer than ever - as they document their hike and take their place in family history.

In detail-rich panels and textured panoramas, Pete Oswald perfectly…


Book cover of A Walk in the Forest

Miri Leshem-Pelly Author Of A Feather, a Pebble, a Shell

From my list on picture books about hiking in nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a family of nature lovers and went with my parents and my brother on numerous nature hikes. These are my most precious childhood memories. I learned as a child to appreciate nature, I was fascinated by wild animals and inspired by the beauty of the natural world. As I grew up, I became more and more aware of how fragile the natural world is today and how important it is to protect it. This is one of the main motivators for me to create books for kids that will inspire them to love and respect nature.

Miri's book list on picture books about hiking in nature

Miri Leshem-Pelly Why did Miri love this book?

I really connected with the message of this book, that nature allows us to be free. The book reminded me that there are so many fun things that we could do in nature, like running, singing, and even shouting!

The short text and beautiful illustrations gave me ideas for fun activities and exploring nature with all the senses that I can try, especially when going outdoors with children. Activities like following footprints, finding small natural treasures, dipping your feet in the water, listening to the sounds of the animals, and much more.

By Maria Dek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Walk in the Forest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A Walk in the Forest is a stunning invitation to discover the woods as a place for both imaginative play and contemplation: collect pinecones, feathers, or stones; follow the tracks of a deer; or listen to the chirping of birds and the whisper of trees. Build a shelter and play hide-and-seek. Pretend the woods are a jungle, or shout out loud to stir up the birds! The forest comes alive in all its mysterious glory in Maria Dek's charming watercolour images and poetic text.


Book cover of Walk On The Wild Side

Miri Leshem-Pelly Author Of A Feather, a Pebble, a Shell

From my list on picture books about hiking in nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a family of nature lovers and went with my parents and my brother on numerous nature hikes. These are my most precious childhood memories. I learned as a child to appreciate nature, I was fascinated by wild animals and inspired by the beauty of the natural world. As I grew up, I became more and more aware of how fragile the natural world is today and how important it is to protect it. This is one of the main motivators for me to create books for kids that will inspire them to love and respect nature.

Miri's book list on picture books about hiking in nature

Miri Leshem-Pelly Why did Miri love this book?

This book really made me laugh!

I loved the characters of the moose, the bear, and the beaver, who go together on a trip full of challenges. At first, they decide to do a race all the way to the top of the mountain, but they get into trouble in a series of funny mishaps. Luckily they are good friends and manage to save each other.

This book reminded me of my family trips as a child, when my dad always enjoyed going fast, while my mom enjoyed stopping to photograph a flower or spot a butterfly. And I–sometimes hurried with my father and sometimes slowed down with my mother. This book shows these two ways to enjoy a trip, but eventually, it proves that the best way is to enjoy the hike together, with good friends or family.

By Nicholas Oldland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Walk On The Wild Side as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

design- and practice-based applied research in architecture, and how students, and both young and seasoned architects, can learn from the innovative contemporary architecture and their architects.


Book cover of Rewilding: Meditations, Practices, and Skills for Awakening in Nature

Loretta Pyles

From my list on rewilding and falling in love with outdoor adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, I built snow forts, climbed the white birch tree in my front yard, and talked to a rabbit named Bobby who lived in the bushes. I rode my bike on adventures, getting lost and exploring woods, ditches, and surrounding landscapes. In a household where I often felt unsafe, time outdoors was a refuge. Working in a career as a university professor of social work for the past 20 years, I have used mindful outdoor experiences, as well as yoga and meditation, as a source of healing. And I have loved sharing these practices with my students. Today, I am documenting my rewilding adventures in my van which has been a joyful way to honor my inner child.

Loretta's book list on rewilding and falling in love with outdoor adventure

Loretta Pyles Why did Loretta love this book?

I had the great fortune of doing my mindful outdoor leadership training with the author, Micah, a few years ago.

This book is a sweet dive that introduced me to the concept and practices associated with rewilding–mindfulness in nature, forest bathing, and ancestral skills like fire building.

It’s a go-to resource that I share with students and others who are interested in reconnecting to nature as a holistic practice. 

By Micah Mortali,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rewilding as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A unique guide to personal rewilding through mindfulness, yoga, and outdoor skills

At your core lies a wild, untamed soul-one with impeccable intuition, the ability to navigate the landscapes of your inner and outer worlds, and an unbreakable connection to Source. In Rewilding, Kripalu director Micah Mortali combines elements from the yoga and Buddhist traditions with ancestral skills to create a unique guide for reconnecting with your primal energy-your undomesticated inner self-and awakening your innate bond with the natural world.

First used by conservation groups to refer to restoring natural environments, "rewilding" has important implications for human well-being. When we…


Book cover of Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

B.L. Bruce Author Of The Weight of Snow: New & Selected Poems

From my list on contemporary nature poetry.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Bri Bruce, writing as B. L. Bruce, and am an award-winning poet and Pushcart prize nominee from California. Over the last decade and a half, my work has appeared in dozens of literary publications. I am the author of four books and Editor-in-Chief of nature-centric magazine Humana Obscura. I was raised with a wildlife biologist/avid gardener for a mother and a forestry major/backpacker/fisherman as a father. Both my parents instilled in me at a young age a love of nature. A lifetime spent outdoors inspires my work—so much so that I’ve been called a “poetic naturalist” and the “heiress of Mary Oliver.”

B.L.'s book list on contemporary nature poetry

B.L. Bruce Why did B.L. love this book?

Devotions is a comprehensive anthology of Mary Oliver’s best work. Oliver is without a doubt the gold standard in nature poetry, and one of the most renowned authors of the genre. It reminds me of all the reasons why she is and will always be my favorite poet, and one of the best poets of the last century. If anyone feels themselves drawn to nature poetry, this book is a must-read.

By Mary Oliver,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Devotions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller, chosen as Oprah's "Books That Help Me Through" for Oprah's Book Club

"No matter where one starts reading, Devotions offers much to love, from Oliver's exuberant dog poems to selections from the Pulitzer Prize-winning American Primitive, and Dream Work, one of her exceptional collections. Perhaps more important, the luminous writing provides respite from our crazy world and demonstrates how mindfulness can define and transform a life, moment by moment, poem by poem." -The Washington Post

"It's as if the poet herself has sidled beside the reader and pointed us to the poems she considers most…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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