What’s better than cozying up with a great book on a rainy day? How about getting outside and having a book-inspired adventure once the sun starts shining again? We’ve paired up a collection of new children’s titles by local authors with real-life, nearby adventures that you and your family can embark on, ripped straight from the stories!

For this pairing, we are spotlighting new books featuring the ever-popular (among the discerning under-eight literary critic circle) animal theme. From intrepid whales and sea lions to adorable baby bears and elephants, the stars of these picture books will keep you turning the pages, and the suggested activities will help bring the characters to life! Click through for our six recommendations for reading and adventure!

Find Your Spirit Animal

Read this: How to Be, by Lisa Brown. What can animals teach us about being the best humans we can be? Brown offers a series of illuminating vignettes: “How to be a bear / Catch fish with your hands. Hibernate. Growl. Be brave.” The minimalist prose and expressive black-and-white sketches pack a lot of humor and wisdom. After detailing all the animal attributes we should aspire to, the book ends on a touchingly simple note: “Be yourself.”

Then do this: San Francisco’s Randall Museum is scenically located next to a rocky hill near Twin Peaks, overlooking the city. Not only is it free to enter (although donations are welcome), this gem of a kids’ museum features a large animal room with dozens of animals to visit with up close: honey bees, snakes, owls, hawks, quail, fish, spiders, turtles, tortoises, ferrets, rabbits, ducks, and more. On weekends, don’t miss the outdoor live animal presentations.

199 Museum Way
San Francisco, CA
Online: randallmuseum.org

Do you have any suggestions for other book-inspired local adventures? Tell us in the comments below!

—Emma smith