Top Picks For Field Guides


Building a library of field guides for your reference shelves is something that you can do as you work through the Outdoor Hour Challenges or as part of creating a homeschool library.You don’t need to invest a lot of money all at one time but choose a topic of interest and search out a good field guide as you can afford it. It is an investment in your family’s growing interest in nature study that will enrich your life for many years to come.

What is a Field Guide?

First of all, what is a field guide? A field guide is a book that helps you identify wildlife like plants and animals or other objects you find in nature like rocks or weather phenomenon. It is usually created to cover a specific region or area of the world. The guide usually has photos or illustrations of the object along with descriptions of the subject that help the reader identify it. Field guides are usually arranged to group subjects by color, shape, or habitat. Each guide will have introductory pages to explain how that particular field guide is organized.

Our collection of field guides has grown year by year. I will share three choices that there are for field guides to use alongside the Handbook of Nature Study: Audubon Society Field Guides, Peterson Field Guides, and Golden Guides.

Audubon Society Field Guides (This link will take you to a list of all the guides available)

  • Actual photographs-glossy and in color
  • Separate section with thorough descriptions for identification
  • Vinyl cover for more durable wear or carrying in your day pack
  • Some topics available in Western or Eastern North American editions
  • My favorite: Birds

Peterson Field Guides (This link will take you to a list of all the series available.)

  • Illustrations of typical specimens
  • Field marks for birds
  • Leaves, nuts, cones, needles shown for identification in the tree guide
  • My favorite: Trees

Golden Guides (This link will take you to the list of guides available.)

  • Compact size and interesting to look at
  • Illustrations in color
  • More than a field guide with help in getting the most out of each study
  • My favorite: Pond Life

Which field guide would I recommend you start with?
If you are looking for a field guide to purchase as a starter and to go along with the autumn nature study series we are currently using, I would recommend a tree field guide. The next three weeks there is the opportunity to learn more about our autumn trees.

I have compiled two lists on Amazon that feature the field guides I use the most:

Field Guides For Families

Field Guides for Young Beginners

I’m an Amazon Affiliate and only recommend products that I personally own (or wish I owned) and think my readers will love as well! This post contains some links that will take you to these products on Amazon where I receive a small referral fee. I greatly appreciate your support!

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