I found a hidden treasure at a local book sale. I threw an aged copy of Exploring Nature with Your Child :: An Introductory to the Enjoyment and Understanding of Nature by Dorothy Edwards Shuttlesworth into my jammed full $5 grocery bag of books. This weekend I cracked the spine, read the 1952 copyright date and wearily dug into my nearly free handbook. I was awed by the intro:
“Children are natural explorers. They have the true explorer’s interest in their immediate surroundings as well as far away places, and they are eager to know why things are as they are.
If you are a wise parent you will look upon these qualities in your child as a sacred fire–always to be fed, allowed to die out never.
An inquiring mind and zest for living are essential for a rich, interesting, and worth-while life. Childhood is a time to nourish and strengthen these fine qualities. Just as your child is a natural explorer, you are a natural guide.
You can be a fellow explorer, too, enriching your own life as well as your child’s. As you look back on your own early years, you may recall the first time you noticed a bud opening into a flower, a bird building its nest, two colonies of ants battling each other. You may remember that such intimate glimpses of nature gave you a real thrill. Now, as a parent, you can find still more pleasure in learning about the ways of animals and the wonders of plants as you share your observing with your child. No need to go on a safari through Central Africa–delightful discoveries await you in your own back yard, in city parks and suburban gardens, along forest trails where you may hike, and by the side of lakes and streams or the ocean where you may vacation.”
I cannot wait to dive into the section “How to Understand the Birds”!
PS: Other recent, wonderful, library finds include:
The Sense of Wonder
By Rachel Carson
I loved this section, “A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing anti-dote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strengths.
If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.
Parents often have a sense of inadequacy . . . If you are a parent who feels he has little nature lore at his disposal there is still much you can do for your child. With him, wherever you are and whatever your resources, you can still look up at the sky–its dawn and twilight beauties, its moving clouds, its stars by night.”
The version available at my library is from 1956. I see that the revised version has photos by Nick Kelsh. He is a wonderful photographer and I recommend *all* of his “How to Photograph…” books.
50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)
By Gever Tulley
I enjoyed this book, although many of the activities were geared towards slightly older elementary school children (all the way to middle school students). I highly recommend the book. If you are looking for a family oriented holiday gift it would make a nice present for a father.
Barnes & Noble writes, “We all want to save our children from harm, but let’s admit it: Overly protective parents say “Don’t do that!” all too often. This counterintuitive activity book proposes to free beloved offspring from unnecessary, even harmful coddling. In fact, 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do) explains how activities like sleeping in the wild, melting glass, and, yes, playing with fire can be used to educate youngsters about how to stay safe in the face of danger. Forget tiger mom; we want to build strong, self-reliant tiger children.
Gever Tully was fortunate to grow up in a world full of possibilities and adventures. He and his big brother were free to explore their environment and invent their own projects while growing up in the wide-open rural environs of Northern California and interior British Columbia. Their curiosity was encouraged by their parents, who instilled early on a sensible approach to their experiments. Gever’s famous rule while babysitting: “If you’re going to play with fire, be sure to do it outside.” (Note that this was in the ever-wet yards of coastal Northern California, not the tinder-dry inland desert!)
In 2005, Gever founded Tinkering School to teach kids how to build things. He created the school since he believes we all learn by fooling around. Grand schemes, wild ideas, crazy notions, and intuitive leaps of imagination are, of course, encouraged and fertilized. After years of creating playful hands-on projects for kids of all ages, Gever wanted to share with a wider audience the discovery that comes from this directed “fooling around.” Fifty Dangerous Things (you should let your children do) is his first book on the subject. "