My 5 Favourite Books for Outdoorsy Parents

When I set off on this project to explore the transition of outdoor adventurers to parenthood I didn’t know where to start. Slowly, but surely, one referral would lead to another, or one Google search would send me clicking for hours, browsing websites and blogs and scouring them for information that might answer my most pressing questions. Many of these resources are compiled in a handy listing here on this website.

Along the way I have read a number of books, but some stand out more than others. While by no means comprehensive, here are some of my favourites (and great starting points for (new) parents looking for inspiration)!

In no particular order.

1. Before They’re Gone: A Family’s Year-Long Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks

by Michael Lanza

This book chronicles the adventures of Lanza’s young family through ten national parks in the USA, and the stories they encounter about climate change along the way. In this book, I appreciated Lanza’s mastery with language, admired his drive as a passionate outdoorsman, and was inspired to expose my own family to the environmental concerns he writes about. (Read my review here).

Before They're Gone, by Michael Lanza

2. Babes in the Woods: Hiking, Camping & Boating with Babies and Young Children

by Jennifer Aist

I don’t read many how-to books, but this one was truly helpful (and it’s small, so manageable!). Jennifer Aist does a good job of being thorough without dumbing down the content, and keeping in mind the various factors that might vary from one family to another. She provides some great ideas specific to different ages and stages, and helped me feel more confident on my outdoor excursions, especially as a new mom.

Babes in the Woods, by Jennifer Aist

3. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder

by Richard Louv

I’ll admit I’m still combing through this one. Heavily researched and substantiated with evidence, Louv’s book was a turning point on the discussion around Nature-Deficit Disorder (in fact, I think he coined that term). He didn’t have to convince me of much, but it’s still mind-boggling to see the impacts of nature on a child’s mental, emotional and physical health. He beckons us to give the next generation the chance to benefit from unstructured play outdoors.

Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv

4. Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure

by Patricia Ellis Herr

This book means even more to me now that I have my own daughter because I read it in the year before I even got pregnant. Up is about the adventures of Patricia (Trish) Ellis Herr and her daughter, Alex, as they climb all 48 of New Hampshire’s highest mountains. Along the way they learn lessons together, and passing on this knowledge is the focus of the book. Thinking back on this read, I can’t wait to embark on adventures with my little M. (Read my review here.)

Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure, by Patricia Ellis Herr

5. Small Feet Big Land: Adventure, Home, And Family On The Edge Of Alaska

by Erin McKittrick

This is the book I wish I had written (though that idea is still not out of the question!). In it, the author recounts life in remote Alaska, living in a yurt; the tale of a two-month expedition (with two small children in tow); and what child-rearing looks like for people who don’t lead typical lives. McKittrick, like Lanza, has a masterful way with words. Her passages about parenting and the antics of her young children were perfectly relatable for me, and I felt a deep connection. (Read my review here).

Small Feet, Big Land, by Erin McKittrick

Which books would you recommend for Outdoorsy Parents? Let me know in the Comments below!

Find more great books and other resources here! 

This post contains affiliate links. By clicking on them you say “thank you” to Meghan J. Ward by providing a small commission from your purchases (no extra charge to you).

Author: Meghan J. Ward

Meghan J. Ward is an outdoor, travel and adventure writer based in Banff, Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Meghan has written several books, as well as produced content for films, anthologies, blogs and some of North America’s top outdoor, fitness and adventure publications. She has a forthcoming travel memoir (Fall 2022), to published by Rocky Mountain Books.

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