“The National Park System encompasses 423 national park sites in the United States. They span across more than 84 million acres, with parks in each state and extending into the territories, including parks in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam.”
Summer means adventure, and what a better way to let your child learn about our beautiful planet than a road trip. Across the country travel is the best way to explore all our amazing National Parks. Why should you visit our National Parks?
- Easily accessible
- Provide an educational trip
- History and culture
- Outdoor adventure
- Beautiful escape
Shop for snacks, pack your bags, get out your map, it’s time to travel! Before you get ready, check out these children’s picture books about National Parks!
1. A Search for Safe Passage by Frances Figart (Author), Emma DuFort (Illustrator)
Animals in the Great Smoky Mountains embark on a dangerous journey of survival in this educational adventure book for ages 7-13 about the places where wildlife must cross roads. This compelling, accessible narrative is perfect for introducing readers to the problems and solutions around the global issue of roadway ecology, animal migration, and the ‘barrier effect.’ Best friends Bear and Deer grew up on the North side of a beautiful Appalachian gorge. In the time of their grandparents, animals could travel freely on either side of a fast-flowing river, but now the dangerous Human Highway divides their home range into the North and South sides. On the night of a full moon, two strangers arrive from the South with news that will lead to tough decisions, a life-changing adventure, and new friends joining in a search for safe passage.
2. Redwoods by Jason Chin (Author, Illustrator)
Jason Chin’s Redwoods tells the story of a boy who discovers a book about redwoods and finds himself in their midst as he turns the pages. An ordinary train ride becomes and extraordinary trip to the great ancient forests. A subway trip is transformed when a young boy happens upon a book about redwood forests. As he reads the information unfolds, and with each new bit of knowledge, he travels–all the way to California to climb into the Redwood canopy. Crammed with interesting and accurate information about these great natural wonders, Jason Chin’s first book is innovative nonfiction set within a strong and beautiful picture storybook. Chin’s approach makes Redwoods a must-have common core tool for teachers and librarians introducing scientific principals to young students.
3. Our Great Big Backyard by Laura Bush (Author), Jenna Bush Hager (Author), Jacqueline Rogers (Illustrator)
#1 New York Times bestselling authors former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager have created an exuberant picture book tribute to our national parks and the importance and fun of connecting with nature. Our Great Big Backyard follows Jane, whose plans of spending the summer playing video games with her friends are dashed when her parents announce that her family is going on a road trip to national parks around the country. Yet somewhere between the Everglades and Big Bend National Park, things begin to change. Jane starts paying attention to the magnificent sights and spends less time looking at her screen. The stunning views open up her imagination as she and her brother see everything that nature has to offer. And the more Jane discovers, the more she realizes how much there is to love about the outdoors—whether she’s in a national park across the country or right in her own backyard.
4. If I Were a Park Ranger by Catherine Stier (Author), Patrick Corrigan (Illustrator)
If you were a national park ranger, you’d spend every day in one of the most treasured places in America. You’d have an amazing job protecting animals, the environment, and our country’s natural and historical heritage, from the wilds of Denali to the Statue of Liberty!
5. My Michigan Favorite – The Legend of Sleeping Bear by Kathy-Jo Wargin (Author), Gijsbert Van Frankenhuyzen (Illustrator)
It started with a mother’s love… Fleeing from a forest fire, a mother bear urges her two cubs into the watery shelter of a vast body of water. Though it will be difficult, she knows if they can swim across to the opposite shore, they will be safe. With calls of encouragement and steadfast love, Mother Bear guides her cubs across the great lake, Lake Michigan. And the story of what happens once Mother Bear reaches the far shore becomes the legend behind the natural wonder known as Sleeping Bear Dune. In 1998 writer Kathy-jo Wargin and nature artist Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen combined their talents to bring The Legend of Sleeping Bear to life. Published to wide acclaim, the book was soon named the Official Children’s Book of Michigan. More than twenty years later, this story of enduring maternal love continues to resonate with readers young and old.
6. Marjory Saves the Everglades: The Story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas by Sandra Neil Wallace (Author), Rebecca Gibbon (Illustrator)
From acclaimed children’s book biographer Sandra Neil Wallace comes the inspiring and little-known story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the remarkable journalist who saved the Florida Everglades from development and ruin. Marjory Stoneman Douglas didn’t intend to write about the Everglades but when she returned to Florida from World War I, she hardly recognized the place that was her home. The Florida that Marjory knew was rapidly disappearing—the rare orchids, magnificent birds, and massive trees disappearing with it. Marjory couldn’t sit back and watch her home be destroyed—she had to do something. Thanks to Marjory, a part of the Everglades became a national park and the first park not created for sightseeing, but for the benefit of animals and plants. Without Marjory, the part of her home that she loved so much would have been destroyed instead of the protected wildlife reserve it has become today.
A lot more families are deciding to rent an RV or go on Amtrak due to Covid. Here are a couple resources for information on RVs, Amtrak, and tips from families with experience!
- The RV Diaries: An RV Family Road Trip
- Renting an RV for Vacation: Complete Guide for Families – From Traveling Mom
- What I Learned From My First Family RV Trip
- All Aboard for a Family Trip by Train
- 7 Tips for Taking Amtrak Trains With Your Kids
When your child starts to learn about all the beautiful wonders our planet has to offer, you can also teach them about how to preserve it, maybe you’ll even learn something too! Here are some books to help along the way –
1. Old Enough to Save the Planet by Loll Kirby (Author), Adelina Lirius (Illustrator)
An inspiring look at young climate change activists who are changing the world. The world is facing a climate crisis like we’ve never seen before. And kids around the world are stepping up to raise awareness and try to save the planet. As people saw in the youth climate strike in September 2019, kids will not stay silent about this subject—they’re going to make a change. Meet 12 young activists from around the world who are speaking out and taking action against climate change. Learn about the work they do and the challenges they face, and discover how the future of our planet starts with each and every one of us.
2. Greta and the Giants: inspired by Greta Thunberg’s stand to save the world by Zoë Tucker (Author), Zoe Persico (Illustrator)
This inspiring picture book retells the story of Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greta Thunberg—the Swedish teenager who has led a global movement to raise awareness about the world’s climate crisis—using allegory to make this important topic accessible to young children. Greta is a little girl who lives in a beautiful forest threatened by Giants. When the Giants first came to the forest, they chopped down trees to make houses. Then they chopped down more trees and made even bigger homes. The houses grew into towns and the towns grew into cities, until now there is hardly any forest left. Greta knows she has to help the animals who live in the forest, but how? Luckily, Greta has an idea… A section at the back explains that, in reality, the fight against the “giants” isn’t over and explains how you can help Greta in her fight. This book has been printed sustainably in the US on 100% recycled paper. By buying a copy of this book, you are making a donation of 3% of the cover price to 350.org.
3. What a Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting our Planet by Jess French (Author)
In this informative book on recycling for children, you will find everything you need to know about our environment. The good, the bad and the incredibly innovative. From pollution and litter to renewable energy and plastic recycling.
This educational book will teach young budding ecologists about how our actions affect planet Earth and the big impact we can make by the little things we do. Did you know that every single plastic toothbrush ever made still exists? Or that there is a floating mass of trash larger than the USA drifting around the Pacific Ocean? It is not all bad news though. While this is a knowledge book that explains where we are going wrong, What a Waste also shows what we are getting right! Discover plans to save our seas. How countries are implementing green projects worldwide, and how to turn waste into something useful. The tiniest everyday changes can make all the difference to ensure our beautiful planet stays lush and teeming with life.
4. Fantastically Great Women who Saved the Planet by Kate Pankhurst (Author)
Kate Pankhurst, descendent of Emmeline Pankhurst, is back with another ‘smart, informative, inclusive and accessible’ book about women who have trail-blazed a cause.* In this case, it’s the mission to respect and protect the environment. From deep in the ocean, around the Antarctic to the heart of a Tanzanian forest, women throughout history have made discoveries that have shown us just how amazing the Earth is and why we should look after it. Read about how Antarctic researcher Edith Farkas helped identify the hole in the Ozone Layer and made the whole world realise the effect of pollution and how Daphne Sheldrick’s love for wildlife inspired her to care for young elephants who had been orphaned in the wild. In the Gambia, Isatou Ceesay is spreading the message about the damaging consequences of plastic waste and educates women in local communities about recycling. In the UK, Anita Roddick led the charge for ethical consumerism when she opened her cosmetics store, The Body Shop in 1976. From the brilliant author of Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, which has sold over 200,000 copies. Written in Kate’s engaging and playful style with brilliant facts, Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet is a fantastic introduction to just a few of the women whose work and activisim has shaped the world we live in.
It’s always important to be environmentally friendly and conscious about the choices we make to improve our planet. Here are some educational websites to learn more about how you can help being green, and give back to our National Parks.
- 100 Easy Ways to Be More Eco-Friendly
- Donate to the National Park Foundation
- Highly-Rated Environmental Nonprofits
Catherine Noonan is a marketing intern at Cardinal Rule Press this summer and also a student at Oakland University. She is currently in her senior year, and will be graduating with a BA in Graphic Design, May of 2022.