Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Surprising Wealth of Living Nature Books

Part of A Private Eye Nature is to use nature studies as an inspiration for creative arts, though my kids have not quite picked up on this aspect of it.  After discovering the Nature section of my favorite used bookstore, I realized that I was neglecting a fundamental tenet of a Charlotte Mason education: Living Books as examples of excellent nature writing.  I have found such a wealth of inspiring nature writing that I will be sure to put them regularly on my children's reading lists.  Here are some of my recent finds.

Several of the great nature titles I found are in the public domain.  Eye Spy by William Hamilton Gibson is a beautiful book.  He wrote it in 1897, and besides his rich language, speaking directly to children, he also included many delightful drawings throughout the book.  Though long (264 pages), it is more a series of short stories rather than one long narrative.  Much of what he writes about can be found here in the Northeast United States.  I found a first edition hardcover in excellent condition at the used book store.  Of a local note, he also wrote Highways and Byways, or, Sauntering in New England.

A couple of other titles I found on Manybooks.netAdventures of a Young Naturalist by Lucien Biart is about a Naturalist's travels through Mexico with his seven-year-old son.  The story looks to be a mix of cultural as well as natural descriptions, with moral lessons learned along the way.

Also from Manybooks is Country Walks of a Naturalist with His Children by British author Rev. William Houghton.  While not available in a digital format, another of his books, Sea-side Walks of a Naturalist with His Children is available as a free pdf download from Google books.

Another authors deserving mention here is French naturalist Jean-Henri Fabre.

I have found quite a variety of beautiful picture books to inspire my youngest naturalist, enjoyed by all of us.  The Reason for a Flower by Ruth Heller; Field Trips:Bug Hunting, Animal Tracking, Bird-watching, Shore Walking by Jim Arnosky (another outstanding nature illustrator); Autumn Leaves by Ken Robbins; and finally, one that fits in particularly well with this blog, Sky Tree: Seeing Science Through Art by Thomas Locker.

To finish off I want to mention these unique nature books by Maryjo Koch.  In these books even the text is part of the spectacular illustrations.  The writing is not as engaging as the rest, but one could spend hours just browsing these titles.

I am sure countless other inspiring nature writers for children are out there waiting to be discovered.  May they inspire us to write and learn about Nature too.


  1. This are great recommendations, Kris! We have the Mary Jo Koch books (got them all thru used book sales) and they are just wonderful to "strew" and have the kids imitate and use as a jumping off spot to further study. I love the beauty of those!

  2. I had read your post last week from Jenn's link and just jumped back over here from CM Carnival. I love old nature books. I've added the links to my favorites so I can print them later this summer. Thanks!!

  3. yay! I love used book stores almost as much as I love books! ;) it sounds like you found some treasures!

    amy in peru

    PS. Thanks for submitting this to the CM carnival

  4. These sound like some really good books. I checked out some of your other posts. The idea of using nature study to get them to do creative writing is intriguing. I may have to try that, too.
    Very nice blog!

  5. What a terrific collection! Thank you!

  6. I love used book stores! Sadly they are getting hard to find around here. Looks like you found some great books! :-)