Books to Go “Wild” Over

When you have little ones, you find yourself saying “wild” in whole new ways. Gone are the “wild nights” of yore. Welcome to “wild hair day” at daycare and “we’re going home if you don’t stop being so wild” moments while out and about. Nostalgia aside—it’s important we don’t forget the true nature of the word: to be free and unrestrained. Here are five exceptional kids’ books that bring readers back to their roots.

Wild by Emily Hughes
Call her unruly or call her free, Wild’s protagonist is a feral little girl who’s been brought up by the animals around her—birds, foxes, and bears who teach and nurture her as one of their own. Along come a strange species—humans—who try to set her straight, impart table manners, and teach her how to speak. Though the creatures look like her, the little girl knows she doesn’t fit in, with them so orderly and her so boundless. A sweet, weird, funny and wonderful reminder of how untamed childhood joy can be.

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd, art by Abigail Halpin
“What is wild? And where can you find it?” These are the questions posed on the first page of this book. With beautifully detailed illustrations, the story takes us on a walk with two city kids looking to find wild in unexpected places. Somewhat of a drawn-out poem, Wild is a call for more time spent exploring outdoors, and a reminder that this can happen nearby, even for urban dwellers.

How to be a Wildflower by Katie Daisy
A field guide, collection of quotations, to-do list, scrapbook of inspirations, How to be a Wildflower defies categorization. The pages feature sparse instructions—“Eat Berries Straight From the Vine” or “See the Northern Lights” (some more doable than others)—as well as detailed projects, like a wildflower crown tutorial, a recipe for strawberry pie, drawings of cloud types and constellations to get to know, a packing list for camping. No matter the adventure, this book is along for the ride.

Walk on the Wild Side by Nicholas Oldland
Climb a mountain with this bear, moose, and beaver and get ready for the trip to take a while until you get to the top. The trio is competitive, which might get in the way of having any fun. A series of disasters small and large (sometimes literally large—think: boulder) also impedes on their excursion. When they finally slow down and make the journey together, rather than fixating on the destination, they have a much more enjoyable time. While perhaps predictable, the message these quirky critters imparts is never boring or obvious to little kids.

Wild Ideas by Elin Kelsey, art by Soyeon Kim
From the same innovative author and illustrator that brought us You Are Stardust, comes Wild Ideas, another beautiful foray into the natural world. The book delves into true ways animals solve problems—whether it’s sea otters, hyenas, pigeons, or killer whales—and how each animal deals with a real-life challenge to overcome. For example, sea otters use rocks to crack crabs, and certain octopuses can make believe they’re other animals to change how they’re perceived by predators. While fascinating to kids, this non-fiction picture book will most likely spark the imaginations of parents as well.