Books to inspire your child to get outside, try new activities, and discover how they love to move

Through the wonder of books, kids can be inspired to move in different ways and try new activities and sports, get excited about outdoor play, and appreciate the intricacies of nature.

Visiting your local library or bookstore in person might not be an option right now, but there are other ways you can find great books for kids of all ages.

Go through your bookshelves for old favourites, check out your local library’s selection of e-books, have books delivered, or purchase electronic versions through online merchants.

If you’re looking for new reading material, here’s a selection of books to inspire active play and nature exploration, celebrate sport, and learn how to live a healthy lifestyle.

If you’ve read one of the books below, let us know what you thought, or add your favourites in the comments!

  1. Books for infants and preschoolers
  2. Books for school-aged children
  3. Books for tweens and teens
  4. Books for parents

Books for infants and preschoolers

Move! (board book)

by Lolly Hopwood and YoYo Kusters (authors), Luke Flowers (illustrator) 32 pages ・ Recommended ages: 0+

Help little ones get the recommended 60 minutes of active play a day with Move! They’ll have fun while combining imaginative play, movement skills, and physical activity. Stomp like a dinosaur, or move u-u-up and d-d-d-down while driving along a bumpy road. There won’t be much sitting while going through this book!

A Walk in the Forest: Wheels of Wonder (board book)

By Jaye Garnett (author), Lisa Manuzak (illustrator) ・ 10 pages ・ Recommended ages: 0-4

This Smithsonian Kids book combines fun facts about creatures they might encounter on a walk in the forest. Learn about deer, beavers, foxes, rabbits, birds, and more. On each page there’s a wheel to spin that will help build fine motor skills while introducing forest plants and animals in its viewing window. After you’ve read the book, head outdoors to see if you can spot any animals around you!

Run Wild 

By David Covell (author) ・ 40 pages ・ Recommended ages: 3-5

Leave the devices behind and run outdoors to celebrate nature and the natural world in Run Wild. Through beautiful illustrations and simple phrases, this book will remind kids about all they can discover when they venture outside.

Fox versus Winter

By Corey R. Tabor  (author, illustrator) ・ 32 pages ・ Recommended ages: 5 and under

Like some of us, Fox doesn’t like winter. His friends are either hibernating or have migrated, and he’s bored and alone. Find out how Fox makes it through the snowy season in this simple and humorous story that’s great for beginner readers.

Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter

By Kenard Pak  (author, illustrator) ・ 32 pages ・ Recommended age 3-6

Winter is on its way! Follow along on the journey of an older sister and her younger brother as they explore their town, saying goodbye to one season and welcoming the next.

Snowballs

By Lois Ehlert (author) ・ 36 pages ・ Recommended ages: 3-8

Sticky snow for the win! Grab various found objects and see if you too can create a whole family out of snow. The simple text in Snowballs is easy to follow and the illustrations will motivate everyone to bundle up and head outside.

Books for school-aged children

The Tiny Seed

By Eric Carle (author, illustrator) ・ 40 pages Recommended ages: 4-6

Eric Carle’s colourful collages tell the story of the life cycle of plants and the treacherous journey of seeds as they travel across mountains, through deserts, and escape a hungry bird. This is a lesson about nature and the importance of perseverance.

Finding Wild

By Megan Wagner Lloyd (author), Abigail Halpin (illustrator) ・ 32 pages ・ Recommended ages: 4-7

Is nature really all around us? Join two kids as they leave their urban home and discover the natural world that’s everywhere they look: from the weeds and flowers growing in the cracks of the sidewalk to the bark of the trees lining the roads. What can you find outside?

Just One Goal!

By Robert Munsch (author), Michael Martchenko (illustrator) ・ 32 pages  ・ Recommended ages: 4-8

Ciara doesn’t have a rink in her backyard, or even one nearby. So teaspoon by teaspoon she starts to make her own. Soon she has a rink ready for her whole team! Will Ciara’s determination and ingenuity help her win a game? Find out in this dramatic and inspiring story of a girl who just wouldn’t quit.

Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream 

By Deloris Jordan and Roslyn M. Jordan (authors), Kadir Nelson (illustrator) ・ 32 pages ・ Recommended ages: 4-8

Becoming a champion is hard work, even for talented athletes like Michael Jordan. As a child, Michael feared he wouldn’t grow tall enough and almost gave up on his dreams. But with help from his mother and father, Michael learned what really goes into making a champion: patience, determination, and lots and lots of hard work.

On the Nature Trail: What Will You Find? 

By Editors of Storey Publishing (author) ・ 48 pages ・ Recommended ages: 4-8

This book’s activities—like scavenger lists and art projects—will help kiddos become nature adventurers and get them engaged in hands-on learning outdoors. The real pull-out magnifying glass is a fun bonus that will help curious explorers discover the world of teeny insects, seeds, and everything else around them.

SkySisters 

By Jan Bourdeau Waboose (author), Brian Deines (illustrator) ・ 32 pages ・ Recommended ages: 5-8

Discover the SkySpirits—the northern lights—with two Ojibway sisters as they venture from the warmth of their kitchen off across the frozen northern tundra. With patience and wonder, they’re rewarded with the breathtaking lights after their exhilarating walk where they encounter three guardian spirits: a rabbit, a deer, and a coyote.

The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game 

By Nancy Churnin (author), Jez Tuya (author, illustrator) ・ 37 pages ・ Recommended ages: 5-8

An entertaining and enlightening book for children, adults, sports fans, and anyone facing adversity. This is the story of William Ellsworth Hoy, whose only dream was to play baseball. His struggles and challenges, including not being able to hear the umpire, brought about changes to the game, including the use of the strike, ball, and out hand signals now used every day.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

By Kate Messner (author), Christopher Silas Neal (illustrator) ・ 56 pages ・ Recommended ages: 5-8

What’s happening down in the dirt, underneath the green leaves and flowers? Discover the busy world of digging worms, hunting snakes, and all the other animals making the earth their home.

What’s My Superpower? 

By Aviaq Johnston (author), Tim Mack (illustrator) ・ 36 pages ・ Recommended ages: 5-8

Aviaq Johnston’s second book tells the story of Nalvana, who lives in Nunavut, and who feels like all of her friends have some kind of superpower. Is she the only one who doesn’t? Follow along with Nalvana as her mother helps her uncover her own special superpowers.

The City Speaks In Drums 

By Shauntay Grant (author), Susan Tooke (illustrator) ・ 32 pages ・ Recommended ages: 6-9

Shauntay Grant, Halifax’s third poet laureate, shares this story of two boys from Halifax’s North End as they explore their neighbourhood and the city around them. On their travels, they find music in surprising places: at the skatepark, in the city’s gardens, and even in the sounds of basketballs hitting the court.

Books for tweens and teens


Takedown 

By Laura Shovan (author) ・ 272 pages ・ Recommended ages: 8-12

What happens when a girl wants to break through the male-dominated world of middle-school wrestling? Mikayla is paired with Lev (a boy) in this story of determination and friendship.

Throw Like a Girl: How to Dream Big & Believe in Yourself 

By Jennie Finch and Ann Killion (authors) ・ 224 pages ・ Recommended ages: 10+

U.S. Olympian Jennie Finch shares the challenges and lessons she learned growing up playing sports, and how confidence and determination helps girls succeed. Jennie speaks directly to the reader, and encourages girls to believe in themselves and go for it.

Tony Hawk: Professional Skateboarder 

By Tony Hawk and Sean Mortimer (authors) ・ 155 pages ・ Recommended ages: 10-13

Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk shares his life’s stories in this autobiography for young readers and skating enthusiasts. Tony’s honest words about growing up and not fitting in will inspire skaters and non-skaters alike—and urge kids to believe in themselves and follow their dreams.

Rising Above: How 11 Athletes Overcame Challenges in Their Youth to Become Stars 

By Gregory Zuckerman, Elijah Zuckerman, Gabriel Zuckerman (authors) ・ 256 pages ・ Recommended ages: 10-14

The first-hand stories from the star athletes featured in this book will inspire kids and adults to work hard, persevere, and overcome challenges that they’re facing—both in sports and in life.

No Summit Out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits 

By Jordan Romero and Linda LeBlanc (authors) ・ 368 pages ・ Recommended ages: 12+

On May 22, 2010, 13-year-old Jordan Romero climbed Mount Everest—and didn’t stop there. By 2011, he became the youngest person to summit the highest mountains on each of the seven continents. Jordan tells of the sacrifices he made, the frustrations and fears along the way, and of the resilience needed to reach his goals.

Books for parents

Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children 

By Angela J. Hanscom (author), Richard Louv (foreword) ・ 256 pages

Written by a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of the TimberNook outdoor play program, this book offers fun and practical ways to enrich children’s lives through unstructured outdoor play. Hanscom emphasizes the importance of free movement for children’s cognitive development and growth. This is an important read for parents, teachers, and health professionals.

Save the Humans 

By Rob Stewart (author) ・ 304 pages

Rob Stewart, the late marine conservationist and award-winning freelance photojournalist shares his inspiring story about working to solve our environmental crisis and the revolution to save humanity. Stewart’s book is a call to action, and shows us what we can do with passion and drive.


Related read: 5 lessons from a book by a “reluctant hockey mom


I Love Dirt! 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature 

By Jennifer Ward (author), Richard Louv (foreword), Susie Ghahremani (illustrator) ・ 144 pages

If you’re looking for new ways to experience the outdoors, I Love Dirt! will help you discover and appreciate its wonders with 52 open-ended activities for kids and families. Whether you only have a small green space near your home, or mighty woods to wander through, the activities will stimulate imaginations and encourage everyone to get outside and exploring.

Child’s Play: Rediscovering the Joy of Play in Our Families and Communities 

By Silken Laumann (Author) ・ 320 pages

Four-time Olympian Silken Laumann offers insight into why children need free play for their health and well-being, and how parents and schools can encourage kids to be active. Child’s Play is a guide to reconnecting as families, slowing down, and letting our kids be kids.

This winter, snuggle up in a favourite chair and share a story with your kids, or even enjoy one on your own! Reading will exercise your brain, reduce stress, improve concentration, and just have you feeling better all around.

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