For more than 3 years I have been keeping my beady eye on decent outdoor books for children and adults. I stick them on various Amazon UK listmanias. Being a self-employed outdoor learning consultant I feel I can justify spending money on books and making time reading them.
2010 was a particularly good year for outdoor books.
Here’s some of my recommendations:
Asphalt to Ecosystems by Sharon Danks
This is a book for dreaming and scheming. Any school or setting considering developing its outdoor space should buy this book as a source of inspiration. What sets it apart from other design books is the international examples and the focus on ecological design principles. This means it really dovetails nicely with the Eco Schools Scheme. It is the sort of coffee table book that is worth having lying around one’s living room on a permanent basis and to give as a gift to schools, school planners and architects and Education Ministers. I plan to give you more information about this book shortly.
Mission:Explore by The Geography Collective
This is quite simply the freshest approach I’ve seen for ensuring geography is child-centred, fun and interesting. It does not follow the curriculum but will get your child out and about exploring their local neighbourhood. I opened this book and fell in love with it!
Gardening in School all Year Round by Clare Revera
This is THE book for UK schools who want to develop gardening within the curriculum. It is a short, practical book that deals with the issues from a class teacher’s perspective. So for example, how do you cope when you have 33 children and 1 small garden. This book has the advice. Clare was the guest blogger of the Willow Structures post.
Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy
The paperback version was published in 2010. Although the statistics come from America the key points are universal both sides of the Atlantic. It is a myth-busting book that sets the record straight about child abductions, injuries and risks to children growing up. Although it’s aimed at parents, it should be required reading for teachers too.
Understanding Educational Expeditions by Simon Beames
This is the first book I’ve come across which looks at expeditions and taking children to far-flung places. It does not moralise the reader but if you are thinking about taking young people on a trek or trip, it makes you think carefully about the purpose and value of the undertaking. I liked the simplicity of the book and it’s a short, sharp read.
Nature Kindergartens by Claire Warden
This books explains the philosophy and reasoning behind nature kindergartens where children spend 90% of their time outdoors all-year round in all weathers. It’s not an extreme approach, simply the most child-centred and healthy approach to early childhood education that I have ever seen. When I visited Sweden two years ago, I had to completely revise my expectations upwards about what quality learning is all about in the Early Years. If you want to re-think your practice, buy this book.
Lens on Outdoor Learning by Wendy Banning and Ginny Sullivan
This is a US book which is mostly suitable for early educators in the US. However there’s something about the style that I really like. It’s written in a very sympathetic manner where children are clearly valued. It’s focused mostly on natural aspects of outdoor play.
If you are looking for books to read to children, then some of my listmanias are specifically for this purpose such as the Forest School Stories for the Early Years. I’d also recommending visiting Abbie’s Greening Sam and Avery blog and her Must See Children’s Books page.
Outdoor Learning Books for 2011
With 2011 galloping along, I’m going to predict that there will be a flurry of outdoor learning books hitting the bookshelves in 2011. Here’s some of the one’s I’m going to be checking out:
Learning Outside the Classroom: Principles and Guidance by Beames, Higgins and Nicol. These authors are lecturers at Edinburgh University Outdoor Education Department. It’s aimed at an international audience of upper primary, lower secondary and middle school teachers.
Children Learning Outside the Classrom: From Birth to Eleven by Sue Waites, a Research Fellow at Plymouth University.
The Coombes Approach: Learning Through an Experiential and Outdoor Curriculum by Sue Humphries and Sue Rowe.
A Pedagogy of Place: Outdoor Education for a Changing World by Brian Wattchow and Mike Brown.
If you know of any other books due to be published or if you are an author with a relevant book about to be published, please let me know. Stick a comment in the box.