When you grow up in a city, or if you’ve lived there for a while, it can be easy to forget about all of the exciting things people want to come and see. After all, the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea is always there. You could go almost any day of the week (just don’t pick Wednesday). Or you might drive passed the Hatley Park Gardens every day during your commute, so they no longer seem so spectacular. But this summer, why not try to rekindle the excitement we feel for our own towns and become tourists in our own backyards, so to speak. I can even suggest some books that will teach you about the animals around us and give some suggestions on how you can remember and treasure the little adventures you go on.
Let’s start with The Collectors by Alice Feagan (Kids Can Press, 2021). Winslow and Rosie love to collect natural wonders and display them in their tree house on the edge of the forest. Each item has a story that is carefully catalogued by Rosie in her field journal. But now, their treehouse is so full they only have one spot left. Rosie and Winslow set out to try and find something amazing to go there. While you’re learning about the items they collect, maybe you’ll get some ideas about items you can collect as well. For ages 4 to 8.
Maybe while you’re exploring you can convince your child to use their ears to see if they can hear any bees buzzing or birds singing. And then, you can read Sounds All Around: The Science of How Sound Works by Susan Hughes and illustrated by Ellen Rooney (Kids Can Press, 2021) to talk about how we hear sounds and how animals hear sounds. For example, did you know elephants hear through their feet? For ages 6 to 12.
If your children love the water and want to learn about some of the sea creatures that live in the area, there are several books by local authors that can help. Dive into Colours by Ann Donahue is a great first book about sea creatures for children ages 3 to 5 and her second book Reef Creatures: Weird and Wonderful has almost every possible answer to every question your 6- to 12-year-olds can think about for sea creatures that call reefs their home.
And if your intrepid reader is concerned about the lack of orca information in Donahue’s books, there is always Orca’s Everywhere: The Mystery and History of Killer Whales by local author Mark Leiren-Young (Orca Publishing, 2019), which is full of information for preteens. For ages 10 to 14.
If you’re not exactly sure what sorts of information you should record on your walk through the lagoon or along one of the other beaches around here, Beach Walk which was edited by Deanna F. Cook and Lisa H. Hiley (Storey Publishing, 2019) has you covered. The book comes with a magnifying glass, stickers, information about different sea creatures and plants and a beach log to record your findings. Let this book help you kindle your child’s inner explorer and help them find ways to connect with the ocean around us this summer. For ages 4 to 8.
Or maybe you and your children aren’t so scientifically inclined and the idea of cataloguing what you see, hear and smell doesn’t sound so appealing. Then perhaps you can follow the lead of the child in Poem in My Pocket by Chris Tougas and illustrated by Josée Bisaillon (Kids Can Press, 2021) and create a found poem from all the words you see fluttering in the breeze. For ages 6 to 12.
I hope these books give you and your children some ideas for how they can explore their own neighbourhoods and local beaches this summer.