The Children’s Book Review | May 13, 2015
A few weeks back, April 18-26, it was National Park week: the annual celebration of national heritage. According to the National Park Service (NPS), US National Parks supported over 292 million recreational visitors in 2014. Historically, US recreation visits per capita are down 2.5% from 10 years earlier (2004) and down 7% from 20 years earlier (1994). While the trends are not necessarily alarming, they do point to some diminished national interest … or perhaps we are more distracted … or it’s just easier to get to other destinations … or … .
Educating our children on coveted natural and unnatural treasures will help preserve our heritage. Most of the National Parks offer fun and interactive education tools for children; such as the NPS Junior Ranger program: an activity based program conducted in almost all parks. At Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota, children are offered a chance to become a Junior Ranger (badge and all) if they can answer questions about the monument’s construction, thought leaders, and fun facts about the natural surroundings. It’s a wonderful program for all ages (grown-ups, too), especially kids between the ages of 5 to 13.
For those of you planning to take your kids to a national park in 2015, here are some excellent books you need to take along for the ride:
National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide U.S.A.: The Most Amazing Sights, Scenes, and Cool Activities from Coast to Coast
By National Geographic Kids
Publisher’s Synopsis: More than two hundred million people visited our national parks in 2009. National parks are some of America’s most treasured places, and the National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide U.S.A. is the perfect way to bring the fun and amazement of these majestic places to kids. Divided by region, (Northeast & Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West), this guide is both accessible and tons of fun. NG Kids color treatments, full-color photographs, and layering of information make information jump off the page. Features include tips on exploration, information about animals, sidebars, checklists, fun facts, maps, cool things to do, and much more. Conservation information, a find out more section, glossary, and index add ample back matter to round out this book.
Ages 8 and up | Publisher: National Geographic Kids | 2012 | ISBN-13: 9781426309311
By Erin McHugh
Publisher’s Synopsis: Includes a Fold-out Commemorative Quarter Collector!
The perfect guide for your next family adventure, this fun-filled book explores more than 75 U.S. parks, monuments, and landmarks, from Maine’s Acadia National Park to California’s Sequoia National Park.
From Yellowstone to the Statue of Liberty, from Gettysburg National Battlefield to Mount Rushmore, National Parks is the only kid-friendly, family-oriented book that covers all of the U.S. national parks, plus famous monuments and landmarks. With a lively text and hundreds of color illustrations and photographs throughout, it offers fascinating, memorable information on every aspect of the parks, such as the history, geography, natural wonders, native wildlife and birds, and unique features that make each park special.
Organized alphabetically by state, National Parks takes readers on a whirlwind trip to 75 locations, including Denali National Park, Hot Springs National Park, Everglades National Park, Fort McHenry, White Mountain National Forest, Ellis Island, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Zion National Park, Block Island National Wildlife Refuge, Mt. Hood National Forest, and many more.
Also included are dozens of activities, such as quizzes, word and picture hunts, and car games, as well as a detachable national-park quarter collector, so kids can collect each of the 56 commemorative quarters to be issued by the U.S.
Ages 8 and up | Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers | 2013 | ISBN-13: 978-1579128845
By Maud Lienard
Publisher’s Synopsis: This activity book contains illustrations of twelve North American national parks, in which children have to search for objects. It is both original and fun, and children will enjoy discovering different animals and landscapes and while looking for some hidden objects. In addition, on each page an intruder has escaped from the park and sneaked his way into the picture.
Ages 3 and up | Publisher: Auzou | 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-2733827055
By Dover Publications
Publisher’s Synopsis: Treasury of detailed, ready-to-color illustrations depicting typical scenes from 50 U.S. national parks: Grand Canyon, Everglades, Great Smoky Mountains, Mammoth Cave, Petrified Forest, and more. Informative captions describe distinguishing features of each park, flora and fauna, visitor activities available, more. Useful guide to major attractions. 50 black-and-white illustrations.
Ages 8-14 | Publisher: Dover Publications | 1993 | ISBN-13: 978-0486278322
Publisher’s Synopsis: Emerging readers will love this Ready-to-Read value pack of six Ready-to-Read books for the price of four! For an added bonus, take a peek inside for tips to help your child become a reading star!
Perfect for emerging readers, the Wonders of America series takes children on a tour of the landmarks that make our country great. From the Statue of Liberty to Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon to Niagara Falls, children will love discussing the amazing things they’ve learned about the geography and history of our great nation. Plus, check the inside of the packaging for a bonus set of tips to help your reading star soar to new heights. Included in this Ready-to-Read value pack are:
The Grand Canyon
The Rocky Mountains
The Statue of Liberty
Ages 4-6 | Publisher: Simon Spotlight | 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-1481427241
By True Kelley
Publisher’s Synopsis: It was world-famous sculptor Gutzon Borglum’s dream to carve sixty-foot-high likenesses of four presidents on a granite cliff in South Dakota. Does that sound like a wacky idea? Many at the time thought so. Borglum faced a lot of opposition and problems at every turn; the blasting and carving carried out through the years of the Great Depression when funding for anything was hard to come by. Yet Mount Rushmore now draws almost three million visitors to the Black Hills every year. This is an entertaining chronicle of one man’s magnificent obsession, which even today sparks controversy.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap | 2015 | ISBN-13: 978-0448483566
By Mike Graf
Publisher’s Synopsis: In eight chapters covering everything from Yosemite’s Rich Past” to Endless Things to See and Do,” Mike Graf calls on the park’s most knowledgeable insiders biologists, rangers, even the park’s resident entertainer to share their most exciting stories and best advice. Colorful photos and illustrations enable young readers to get up close and personal with Yosemite’s waterfalls, Giant Sequoia trees, sheer granite walls, and, of course, those famous black bears. This guide also recommends gear for a national park visit and offers safety tips, a wildlife observation how-to and birding guide, tips on managing a wildlife encounter, and a guide to rock climber lingo and a difficulty ratings system. Also featured are detailed accounts of famous climbs, tips on how to protect the park and keep it green, an historical timeline, and a list of popular hikes.
Ages 10 and up | Publisher: Yosemite Conservancy | 2012 | ISBN-13: 978-1930238305
By Barb Rosenstock; Illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein
Publisher’s Synopsis: Caldecott medalist Mordicai Gerstein captures the majestic redwoods of Yosemite in this little-known but important story from our nation’s history. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt joined naturalist John Muir on a trip to Yosemite. Camping by themselves in the uncharted woods, the two men saw sights and held discussions that would ultimately lead to the establishment of our National Parks.
Ages 6-8 | Publisher: Dial Books | 2012 | ISBN-13: 978-0803737105
By Gary Robson
Publisher’s Synopsis: This charming tale of Michael, Emily, and their parents as they explore Shenandoah National Park is designed to both entertain and educate. Wildlife can be elusive, and both kids are disappointed when at first they don’t encounter many animals in the park. The kids quickly learn, however, that there are animals all around, and these creatures leave behind scat and tracks. Colorful illustrations of animals and their leavings supplement this lively tale, and a quick-identification chart at the back makes field identification a breeze!
Ages 4 and up | Publisher: Farcountry Press | 2006 | ISBN-13: 978-1560373391
Publisher’s Synopsis: Fun and fact filled card game for kids of all ages!
- Encourages kids to learn about National Parks
- Includes 30 game cards and a 3 numbered die
- Questions in form of trivia, true or false, and multiple choice
- Both easy and hard levels of questions keep kids interested, challenged and having fun
- For 2 or more players
Ages 7 and up | Publisher: Professor Noggins | ASIN: B004RZ8SN0
Top 10 Most Visited Parks
Golden Gate: 15 million visits
Blue Ridge Parkway: 14 million visits
Great Smoky Mountains: 10 million visits
George Washington Memorial Parkway: 7 million visits
Lincoln Memorial: 7 million visits
Lake Mead: 7 million visits
Gateway: 6 million visits
Natchez Trace Parkway: 6 million visits
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal: 5 million visits
Grand Canyon: 5 million visits
This list “National Parks: Top 10 Kids’ Books” was curated by Bianca and Erik Schulze. Follow along with our articles and reviews tagged with National Geographic Children’s Books and National Parks Books to discover more great titles just like these ones.