Think of a time when you explored the outdoors. How did it change you? I recall the one time I went rock climbing. It was hard and scary, but I clambered to the top. I remember feeling a sense of empowerment when I reached the highest point. The experience made me realize I could do hard things. I found strength in nature.
With summer around the corner, your learning community might be dreaming about exploring the outdoors. The picture books below demonstrate how we can find strength in nature. Readers will see how interacting with nature boosts confidence and makes people stronger.
Fatima’s Great Outdoors
When you think of camping in America, you might imagine sizzling bacon over a campfire. But what if you’ve never built a fire or cooked bacon? Can you still go camping?
Author Ambreen Tariq shares a story about an immigrant family who camps for the first time. They want to experience “a great American pastime.” Their initial excitement wanes when they have trouble setting up camp. Fatima wishes it was easier. She pushes through every challenge and feels stronger because of the experience.
Invite readers to consider how the camping trip transformed Fatima. In the story, Fatima says she has superpowers. Ask learners what she means by that.
Readers may notice and wonder about the “Brown People Camping: be brave” banner at the end of the story. Explain that the author started the #brownpeoplecamping social media campaign. Tariq is passionate about camping and hiking. She encourages everyone to experience outdoor joy.
Here’s something fun to share with learners. The illustrator, Stevie Lewis, lives in a camper. She used digital tools to illustrate this book because they don’t take up much space.
Find discussion questions for this picture book by visiting my blog Library Lessons.
I Talk Like a River
When the boy in this story has a “bad speech day,” his father takes him to the river. The boy stutters, and this particular day was tough. After watching the river “bubble” and “churn,” the father tells his son that his speech moves like the river. The boy embraces the idea of connecting with nature. The metaphor helps him find the strength to talk in front of his class.
The evocative illustrations in this story will take your breath away. A gatefold opens up to a double-page spread of the boy walking into the river. This illustration is quite remarkable. Readers will feel like they are standing along the shoreline, watching the boy wade in the water.
After reading this story, ask learners how the river gave the boy strength. Discuss where learners find strength to overcome challenges. Invite them to illustrate a time they felt empowered.
The Camping Trip
Ernestine is ready for her first camping trip. She imagines she’ll have fun. Her aunt and cousin take her into the woods for a great outdoor experience. But is it really that great?
The fish in the water scare Ernestine. Climbing is hard, and she’s not a fan of the food.
Ernestine wants to go home. She is homesick. Her aunt distracts her by taking her on a nighttime walk. Together, they gaze at the nighttime sky with shooting starts. This helps Ernestine feel better. She starts to appreciate nature’s gifts. Ernestine gathers enough courage and strength to run and swim. She helps with the hard work of packing up the car for the long ride home.
Invite learners to discuss how Ernestine’s feelings about camping changed throughout the story. Ask learners to write about a time when they felt homesick. Tell them to describe how they found the strength to carry on when they missed home.
TeachingBooks has 14 resources for The Camping Trip. Subscribe for a free trial to find more ideas for this book.
I hope these three picture books and lesson ideas compel learners to find strength in nature. Which lesson idea resonates with you? Please share in the comment box below.