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By Melinda Chandler 3 January 2023 3 min read

Science is all around us and summer can be a great time to get out and explore the natural world. From city streets to coastal retreats and, of course, the beautiful outback. There’s plenty to do and find even in your own backyard. To get you in the holiday mood the team at CSIRO Publishing has put together this list of great summer reads and ideas.

Light as a feather

Whether you are new to birdwatching or a fully-fledged bird nerd The Compact Australian Bird Guide is small but mighty, and perfect for your backpack or glovebox. Need some holiday inspiration? Check out our top beginner birdwatching spots across Australia or our birdwatching playlist for more inspo.

Infinity and beyond!

Are you an adventurous traveler who likes to get away from the crowds? Do you prefer solitude and the chance to explore places not many others would dare to go? Well, we think we have your next holiday destination covered…Mars! But before you pay your deposit, we suggest you sit down and read How to Survive on Mars. For would-be Martians aged 8-12.

Coast to coast

If you are lucky enough to spend your holidays by the sea, why not take the time to go Beachcombing. Kids can find inspiration too by joining Professor Seaweed and her friends Frankie and Sam discovering beach treasures of The Great Southern Reef. Spanning thousands of kilometres from northern New South Wales to Western Australia, the Great Southern Reef is one of Australia’s best kept secrets. Brilliant for beachcombers aged 6-9.

Backyard treasures

If travel is not on your agenda there’s still plenty of natural treasures to discover in your own backyard. We've got an incredible range of handy field guides to help get you identify the spiders, butterflies, native bees and even snails you’ll find in your garden or around your home.

Kids can also get involved and learn more about the important role Australian native wasps play in our environment in Wonderful Wasps. Fun fact: did you know Australia is home to more than 12,000 native wasp species? Suitable for insect investigators aged 5-9.

It's about the journey, not the destination

If you are tempted by travel but really prefer a staycation, we've got you covered too. Take the kids on a migration journey without leaving your comfy couch.

Meet a newborn humpback whale and his mother in The Voyage of Whale and Calf and read about the challenges they face as they head to the icy waters of Antarctica.

Or follow Swifty the super-fast (but also critically endangered) Swift Parrot as she follows the blossom trail across Bass Strait to mainland south-eastern Australia.

You can also strap in for a microlight flying adventure on a trip to the Arctic tundra and back in A Shorebird Flying Adventure. Suitable for explorers or staycationers aged 5-9.

A fantastic flock

We know Australians love birds and birdwatching and it seems they love bird books too – especially those that inspire the next generation of ornithologists. As well as Swifty, discover another critically endangered bird that is truly unique in On the Trail of the Plain-Wanderer. While Swoop celebrates our black and white Australian icon the magpie and explains their unique animal behaviour. Suitable for junior bird nerds aged 6-9.

Watch your step

Poo, Spew and Other Gross Things Animals Do! is a book about poo. And not just poo, but spew, mucous and snot too. This book stinks and we think you and your kids will love it! You’ll laugh and you’ll learn some amazing things animals do to survive and thrive. Great for grots aged 8-12.

Put an end to “I’m bored”

Whether you need to keep the kids entertained on a long road trip or looking for activities to keep them entertained at home, the team from Double Helix can help. In every issue of Double Helix magazine you'll find articles, activities, puzzles, comics and prizes galore. The Double Helix website also has a great range of activities for kids to do at home like making Fizzy Planet bath bombs!

We hope you enjoy this summer reads selection with more great titles available on the CSIRO Publishing website.

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