Nature’s Storybooks

IMG_20150316_121226396Now’s the time when every homeschooling parent is thinking up ways to get their littles outside and enjoying this spring weather.  Nature study is the most obvious way to do this, and there are so many different options this time of year.  Studying the buds on trees and bushes, the greening of the lawn and meadows, the new flowers already popping up in the yard.  Bird migration, insects, spiders, mammals coming out of hibernation… The possibilities are truly endless.

wild gooseOne of the fun things about a literature concentration in your homeschool is finding lit that goes along with these nature studies.  I have lucked across some amazing old books at rummage sales that are great complements to our own nature studies.  One of them is called “Wild Goose, Brother Goose,” by Mel Ellis.  The book was originally published in 1969, and my copy is a first edition.  I found it amidst a stack of old books at a church rummage sale and picked it up because Canada geese are among my favorite birds.  Last autumn when we studied migration in school, we read this book aloud together.  It is the wonderful story of a wild goose who mates with a clipped goose at a stocked pond in Wisconsin.  Though told like a story, it is a mostly factual account written by a true naturalist.  Every word is an homage to geese and the beautiful Wisconsin environment.  A little research taught me that Mel Ellis is one of Wisconsin’s ‘most revered outdoor writers,’ that he wrote articles and books about nature and really tried–in a time before it was trendy–to make the world eco-conscious.  A bit of a modern-day Thoreau.  Though Ellis died in 1984, his work is still very relevant, especially if you’re interested in giving your littles a magical look into the world of nature.

Another pertinent book I found quite by accident is “The Year of the Turtle,” by David M. Carroll.  This amazing book, published in 1991, follows a year of fresh-water turtle life in a swampy area of New England called The Digs.  The author has filled the pages with his own drawings of turtles and animal and plant life, even of a map of The Digs so you can see the layout of the land.  It is a journal of turtle life, starting in April when the turtles are starting to emerge from the mud of their hibernation and ending in October when they return to hibernate.  Last year, the Littles and I read each journal entry on the date in the book, so we were able to imagine exactly what the turtles in our own area were doing that day. It also gave us a starting place for where to look for them.  The book covers emergence, courtship and mating, nesting, hatching, and hibernation.   Everything you might want to learn about freshwater turtles and their environment is included in this wonderfully well-written and -illustrated book.

IMG_20150316_125104066If, like me, you want to read Watership Down every year and are therefore a huge Richard Adams fan, look for “Nature Through the Seasons.”  Adams published this gem in 1975, and it covers bird, insect, animal, and plant life in England by division of the seasons.  Because England is on roughly the same latitude as part of the U.S.  there are many similarities to be found.  Because it’s in a different hemisphere, there are many differences to rejoice in as well.  We break this book open often throughout the year.  The illustrations are beautiful, and some are numbered diagram-form so that the reader can read a list of what they contain.  There’s even a diagram of the different things that live in an oak tree during summer.

Of course, any book that helps teach your little ones about nature is a good addition to your nature study.  The Secret Garden.  The Black Stallion.  The Wind in the Willows.  But these three are my faves because they are timeless and true, beautiful and magical, and so interesting they transcend age.  Each is written by a real environmentalist who cared more for the subject matter than any notoriety or approval they may have gotten.  And the best part is all three of these treasures can be gotten on Amazon right now for a penny plus shipping.  So if you’re looking for a rich new addition to add to your nature study this season, look no further than these three books.

Do you have any favorite nature books?  If so, please tell me about them.  You know me, I am Always looking for something new to read.

Love wins,

KT

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