If you’re looking for books to inspire your nature journaling, I’ve been reading up a storm lately and I’ve put together this list of the top 10 nature study-themed books I own or have read that make me want to get out my journal every time. Pick one or two of these for you and the kids to drool over, then grab your sketching pencils and journals and head outside!
- Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling by John Muir Laws – I bought this about a month ago and it’s so full of how-to ideas and technical information that I still haven’t finished it! An amazing resource.
- Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You by Clare Walker Leslie was the first nature journaling book I ever bought, and it continues to be my absolute favorite for inspiration. She makes me want to try harder!
3. Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World by Julia Rothman has become my 9 year old’s new favorite book. I keep finding him on the couch, curled up with it, and he always has something new to tell me that he’s picked up while browsing. I would say that it’s a really accessible feeling book, especially for novices.
5. Drawn to Nature: A Sketchbook for the Naturalist by Holly Ward Bimba ( a guided journal full of information, divided by topic) is, I would say, for older children and adults, but that doesn’t make it any less excellent as inspiration. It offers more of an adult’s perspective on sketching, so it’d be an especially great fit for someone with confidence in their drawing abilities. It might be a little intimidating for a newbie or someone like me who struggles with accurate sketching.
6. The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden is a classic nature journaler’s purchase for a reason: It’s gorgeous! If you picture your nature journal as being full of little sketches, poetry, weather observations and musings on life then this is the book you’ll want to pull out time and time again.
7. Sketching Outdoors in Winter by Jim Arnosky was one that I stumbled upon at our local library back in January. We returned it weeks late because we were having so much fun trying out the ideas he shared!I recently found out that he made one book for each season, so spring is definitely on my list.
8. A Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola is a how-to for beginner nature study and nature journaling, told in a 1930s story form. It does have some small amount of Christian content, but it’s full of step by step ideas and appealing sketches. The sequel, Lessons at Blackberry Inn, is great too although not as didactic.
9. Laws Guide to Drawing Birds by John Muir Laws. I know I have two books by this author on the list, but Jack Laws’ skill at showing you how to make nature journaling accessible and pointing out things you might not have noticed make it worth owning more than one of his. Every how-to is full colour and goes from basic shape right through to the finished product. He emphasizes searching for connections in nature, something he has in common with the next book on my list.
10. The Private Eye curriculum by Kerry Ruef is like science, nature journaling, and play all rolled into one! I bought this last March around this time, and we have had an amazing time looking at, discussing, and sketching with jeweler’s loupes. It has us incorporating scientific discovery, poetry, analogies, and so much more that if you can buy only one book, and you want to cover multiple subjects without grumbling from your students, this in my opinion would be the one to start with.
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