My 5 yr old ds is totally into nature :) I want to purchase some field guides to use when we are out exploring. I'm looking for something about frogs/toads/turtles; butterfiels/insects, Wildflowers etc. What field guides would you all recommend?
We like the Peterson ones too. For really younger children my dd has liked the Dover coloring book ones and The Big Golden Book of Backyard Birds. (its an old one, we got it at the thrift store but you can get it used on amazon or ebay).
Like the others, we use the adult field guides: Peterson, Lone Pine, Audubon (not my favorite, but my daughter loves them). I brought back a kid's book on rocks and minerals and my 5yo said to take it back, "It's not science-y enough."
We have several by Timber Press and a particularly excellent one called "Bird Feathers" by David Scott and Casey McFarland. For mushrooms "All That the Rain Brings and More" but I forget if that is regional.
What area do you live in? Sometimes the best guides are local. My favorite wildflower guide for the PNW is by Timber Press. "Weeds of the West" is fun and extensive, but some other more local ones are better still. The fold-out, laminated ones have fewer plants and less information, but are more targeted to what you might actually run across, and are a lot lighter to carry.
Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
I also like Peterson. In general, I prefer guides with drawings to guides with photos. Drawings seem to do a better job of showing you all the important features and letting you compare similar species. (But we have a really good caterpillar guide with photos.) If you just want to introduce your kid to the idea of identifying birds or flowers, but you don't think it's likely to become a big interest, there are some guides intended for kids that are simpler and show a smaller number of species, and those might be a good choice. I personally would lean towards getting more comprehensive guides intended for adults, since otherwise you might end up being frustrated by finding things that aren't in your guides, or finding pictures in your guides that sort of match what you see, but wondering if there's some species not shown in your guide that might be a better match.
We like the National Audobon Society's Regional Guides. They seem to cover the most different categories and my kids prefer photos to the drawings that the Peterson guides have. I have found frustration with all of them since inevitably there are only a limited number of amphibians/reptiles/birds/trees/etc. in the field guides and there are occasions we could not find what we were looking for however this one has covered the most for us...
Also this bird book is lovely:
My kids have the north american birds one and they love it!