I have a friend named Meghan Read. She's fantastic. We met at book club. She's the mother to an adorable little boy who is nearly two years old. She loves the idea of a woodland nursery, and has the Pinterest board to prove it. She even has an adorable wall hanging made from a tree branch in her son's room.
But there is a hole in Meghan's life. . . .
Hi, it's Meghan. When I think of a woodland-themed nursery, there are certain words that come to mind: rustic, wild, brave, and adventurous. This is my dream nursery, folks. Probably because I love nature and the outdoors, but who doesn't? And what is a dream nursery without books? Rhetorical questions aside though, this is a serious matter. HOW has a woodland nursery book list been overlooked by every single woodland nursery pin on the planet?!
I asked my friend Alysa, who is conveniently a children's lit expert, to help me create a book list for my dream nursery. (I mean for my child.) And before we get into it, let me share the 2 qualifications for books that made this list:
1) The book illustrations had to reflect the natural woodsy feel of nature. I was thinking simple and rustic, nothing too bright or crazy.
2) The literary themes had to match the feelings embodied by a woodlands nursery—bravery and adventure. And a little bit of humor doesn't hurt!
Meghan had a few ideas of what books would be perfect for a woodland nursery, and I helped her round out the list. Some of these books are board books, some are pictures books, some are chapter books, so this list will help you start the woodland themed library for your little one that will last as the man-cub grows. For your convenience I've linked the cover images to Amazon.
Take it away, Meghan!
10 Perfect Books for a Woodland Nursery
1. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. This is hands down my favorite children's book to read as an adult. Which is fortunate because I often find myself reading it over and over again, sometimes multiple times in a row. (Thank you, child who loves repetition.) In this book, a bear asks several animals if they have seen his hat, but none say they have. The bear is about to give up when he realizes that he saw one of the animals wearing his hat. A key to enjoying this book is over-exaggerating everything the bear says at this point. He gets his hat back, but I won't ruin the story for you by saying how! I like to think about what age my son will be when he actually "gets it." I hope we'll be reading this book for years to come.
2. We're Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. What's more to do with nature and being brave and adventurous than a bear hunt through impassible obstacles? This is my absolute favorite children's book because of the memories that I have of my dad reading it to me as a little girl. My dad worked long days and traveled a lot, so he wasn't always home. I cherish this book not only for those memories, but also for the story. It's a story of a dad taking his kids on a fun adventure, and who doesn't want that? I loved sharing in this story with my dad.
3. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. A quick and classic page-turner with exceptional illustrations, this adventure story makes me happy. Never overestimate the power of a good monster story! Is there anyone who doesn't know this book?
Now I'm out of ideas. So I'm going to turn it over to Alysa.
Hello again! I have lots of ideas! Here are books 4-10.
4. Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown. This book turns the woodland narrative on it's head, as you can tell from the title. A young bear in the forest finds an adorable little human and wants to keep it for a pet.
5. Up The Creek by Nicholas Oldland. Moose, Bear, and Beaver go on a canoeing trip together but they soon disagree on the best way to go about it. When I was looking up this book I discovered there are more books with these characters, too! I check out Big Bear Hug as well and it's quite fun.
6. Peek-a-who! by Nina Ladon. There is no animal that represents the woodland as well as the owl. Am I right? Peek-a-who! Is a cute board book with cut-outs that plays with the "peek-a-boo" theme and different animal noises. Totally adorable.
7. The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth. What could be more adventurous than chasing a cookie through the woods, only to see it gobbled up by a hungry fox? This is the edition that my family has of The Gingerbread Man and let me tell you it is timeless. One side-benefit I experienced from reading this to the kids is what Jubilee, age 2, said a few days after we had read it: "Run, run, fast as you can. You can't catch me; I'm a girl and you not a gingerbread man!"
8, Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes. I guess I think of woodland rabbits being more brown than white, but I couldn't resist including this book on the list. Little White Rabbit goes on an adventure in his imagination, and returns home to mother.
9. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. Here are those brown forest hares! I admit that having to say "little nut brown hare" over and over is my least favorite part about the book. But I discussed it with Meghan and she thinks the adorableness of the story outweighs the length of the characters names. So here you go. You could call this the most controversial pick on the list. ;-)
10. Shh We Have A Plan! by Chris Haughton. In this superbly illustrated book, four brothers are trying to catch a bird in the forest. The super simple text paired with the hilarious illustrations makes our whole family laugh. It's definitely an adventure!
Bonus chapter books!
Because it is only a couple of years before you're wanting to read something longer to your little one, here are three chapter books that also fit the bill with rustic illustrations and themes of adventure and bravery.
Winnie the Pooh, Peter Rabbit, and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found something that looks good! If you have other recommendations, definitely leave those in the comments. If you're looking for more books little ones, check out my list of great board books to read to groups!. I also have two posts about books to give at baby showers, here and here.