Let's Go Outside!: Books for Young Children

These books share lots of ideas for playing outside and exploring the world around us — even if the midst of the big city!

Related activities

For additional ideas, see the following:

Related books

A Stick Is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play

Illustrated by: LeUyen Pham
Age Level: 3-6

Bright illustrations accompany lively poems that celebrate children's imaginations and playing outdoors on warm days. Some games, like 'jacks', may need a bit of explanation but walking on the edges (of sidewalks, curbs, etc.) and hopscotch are perennial favorites. Everyone may be inspired to go outside and play!

At the Park

Illustrated by: Kayeri Akweks
Age Level: 0-3
Language: Spanish

A Mohawk boy visits the park and uses his five senses to discover the natural world around him. Spanish version available.
 

Babies in the Park: Autumn Babies

Illustrated by: Adela Pons
Age Level: 0-3

An endearing board book with adorable babies on the go during the fall season. Featuring diverse characters and highlighting early concepts like shapes and repetition, books in the Babies in the Park series encourage an appreciation of nature and outdoor imaginative play.

Babies in the Park: Spring Babies

Illustrated by: Adela Pons
Age Level: 0-3

What will babies find in the park on a beautiful spring day? This series features diverse characters and highlighting early concepts like shapes and repetition, books in the Babies in the Park series encourage an appreciation of nature and outdoor imaginative play.

Babies in the Park: Summer Babies

Illustrated by: Adela Pons
Age Level: 0-3

Whether they are chasing butterflies or playing in the sun, these babies are having an exciting day at the park! Featuring diverse characters and highlighting early concepts like shapes and repetition, books in the Babies in the Park series encourage an appreciation of nature and outdoor imaginative play.

Babies in the Park: Winter Babies

Illustrated by: Adela Pons

Spirited, rhyming text and colorful, graphic art reveal an energetic cast of babies having an action-packed day of play in the park on a cheerful winter day. Featuring diverse characters and highlighting early concepts like shapes and repetition, books in the Babies in the Park series encourage an appreciation of nature and outdoor imaginative play.

Best Friends

Illustrated by: Maria Victoria Torrey
Age Level: 3-6
Language: Spanish

Join two best friends, an Asian Indian boy and girl, as they spend an active day outdoors running, climbing, sliding, and more. Spanish version available.

City Shapes

Illustrated by: Bryan Collier
Age Level: 3-6

Join a young girl as she travels around her city noticing different shapes on buses, kites, and more. Collage and paint illustrations and a lyrical text create a memorable journey while encouraging close observation.

Come on, Rain

Illustrated by: Jon J Muth
Age Level: 3-6

Tessie, the child narrator, is the first to see the long-awaited rain clouds form. She and her neighbors celebrate the long awaited relief from the summer hear and dry spell in poetic language and loose but lively, luminous watercolor illustrations.

Hello Ocean / Hola Mar

A child narrates her visit to the ocean, inviting readers to explore it with her. She experiences the sea with all of her senses through realistic illustrations and lyrical language in this gently rhyming tale.

I Know the River Loves Me

Celebrate the river's magic and music with this poetic tribute that also speaks to the importance of taking care of our rivers. Vivid aqua and green waves swirl across the pages, bringing the river and her friend to life.

In the Garden

Illustrated by: Manelle Oliphant
Age Level: 0-3

A young boy digs a garden, plants seeds, waters and waits but forgets — until sprouts and ultimately plants emerge! Simple staccato, rhythmic language combines with realistic illustrations in a small format just right for introducing gardens to young children.

In the Woods

Illustrated by: Manelle Oliphant
Age Level: 0-3

Short, rhyming verse combines with outdoor scenes as a boy and his dad share a camping trip. Their day is presented from fishing to cooking their dinner, until the boy — with "Nodding head/Time for bed" — is carried into their tent by his dad.

Kite Flying

By: Grace Lin
Age Level: 3-6

The young narrator describes how she and her family each contribute to a handsome kite which they then enjoy flying. Signature illustrations show traditional Chinese kite designs combined with an author's note about kite history. The result is the celebration of an ebullient family tradition that readers may want to take up themselves!

Our California

Illustrated by: Rafael López
Age Level: 3-6

Visit some of the most special places in California, from the big (San Francisco) to the small (San Juan Capistrano) and everything in between! Vibrant and whimsical illustrations from Rafael López create a vivid impression of how a child might remember California's unforgettable natural and man-made wonders.

Red Is a Dragon: A Book of Colors

Illustrated by: Grace Lin
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: In this lively concept book a little girl discovers a rainbow of colors in the world around her. Red is a dragon in the Chinese New Year parade, yellow are the taxis she sees on her street, green are jade bracelets and the crunchy kale growing in her garden. Many of the featured objects are Asian in origin, and all are universal in appeal. With rich, boisterous illustrations, a fun-to-read rhyming text and an informative glossary, this colorful book will brighten every child's day!

Round Is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes

Illustrated by: Grace Lin
Age Level: 3-6

A girl discovers things that are round, square, and rectangular in her urban neighborhood. A gently rhyming text and crisply lined illustrations reveal many things that are universally recognizable as well as others that come from the child's Chinese background.

Something Beautiful

Illustrated by: Chris K. Soentpiet
Age Level: 3-6

A young girl learns to find beauty in her sometimes gritty urban neighborhood, showing how the way one sees makes a difference that affects others. Luminous watercolors detail the child, her neighborhood, and suggest what she sees around her.

Summer Days and Nights

By: Wong Yee
Age Level: 0-3

A rhyming text and soft, idealized illustrations present a young child's pleasure in summer activities — from shooting "straight down the slide" to a picnic in the shade with her parents. The small size of the book makes it ideal for sharing one-to-one.

The Snowy Day

Age Level: 0-3
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

The Snowy Day is the simple, beloved tale of a boy waking up to discover that snow has fallen during the night. The little boy celebrates the snow-draped city with a day of humble adventures. Spanish version available.

Want to Play? (Confetti Kids!)

By: Paula Yoo
Illustrated by: Shirley Ng-Benitez
Age Level: 3-6

It’s a warm, sunny day, and the gang heads to the neighborhood playground to play. What should they play? Henry wants to play basketball, and Padma wants to play Follow the Leader. Finally Pablo comes up with a great idea: to play pretend. It’s a game that everyone can do easily. They can pretend to be archaeologists, astronauts, and explorers. There’s no limit to what they imagine they can be!

Wild Berries

Illustrated by: Earl N. Cook
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Cree

In a quietly perceptive story that includes a handful of key words translated into a Cree dialect, a child accompanies his grandmother into an airy, late summer forest to pick wild blueberries. Throughout their excursion, Clarence and his grandmother observe woodland animals, including a spider ("kokom-minakesis") spinning its web, a fox ("makesis"), and birds ("pinesisak").