Thursday, June 9, 2011

Natural History Readings

As I've mentioned previously, this last year was a transition year for my oldest daughter.  She had not approached the subject of Natural History before; at least not as a subject.  With the recommendations of such sites as Ambleside Online I chose a book for her to read the first term.  Unfortunately, she didn't take too it and we dropped it.  I didn't give it much thought, for I knew, she had plenty of material to read through for the whole year. 

At the same time, I had chosen Clara Dillingham Pierson's Among the Forest People, Among the Meadow People and Among the Pond People for my younger daughter to read, in this subject area, one for each term.  She adored them immediately.  A couple of times my oldest was caught reading through a book or two and before you knew it she had read them all.  At the beginning of our third term my oldest asked if I could pick a similar book about animals as well, but something a little more exciting.  Hmm, more exciting, O.K.  I went back to check on some recommendations appropriate for her age and reading level.  I settled on Wild Animals I Have Known by Ernest Thompson Seton.  She enjoyed this book so much that after completing it she begged me to please find other books by him. Well, I was more than happy to comply and we found a copy of Wild Animal Ways which is sitting in her summer reading basket. 

I'm so thrilled that she took a liking to this particular genre of books.  Nature study is such a big part of the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education and reading about the intimate relations of the natural world, in my most humble opinion, is as well.  How else can my daughter be able to visually understand the nature of the few coyotes we've witnessed strolling leisurely on the other side of our gate, on an open hillside.  Or the endless cotton tail rabbits that roam in the spring and summer to only be seriously missing in the winter time.  Maybe someday she can spend days and evenings studying their every moment but for now all I can say is that Mr. Seton Thompson's Raggylug and Lobo sure made an impression on her. 

Unless we also expose our children to such readings I can see how our Nature Studies might not be enough or as exciting as seeing an animated animal in battle on screen or any such misrepresentation of the natural world.  As fun as these might be and purely for sake of a few laughs;  I also want to instill in my children a love for the natural world as it is intended.  There is another level of appreciation for the natural world when we share some of these wonderful natural history writers.   Yes, first and foremost that appreciation will come with intimate connection that our children themselves make, but there is no doubt many before us have made the same connection and have beautifully written about it.  I'm glad we will continue to enjoy and appreciate them in our readings.


Pam... said...

Wow. I sense such a kindred spirit here!
I've been wondering about the Pierson books, but they grew weary of all the talking animals in Parables, and our collection of Burgess books. Yet, you have piqued my interest. If I try one, which do you recommend for young girls?
That is so awesome about your eldest and her interest in naturalist books. I have Seton's book ready for next year also. I'm new to venturing deeper into the artists, composers, and naturalist's lives...but it is much more satisfying than skimming their lives from a text, or just enjoying their passions without knowing them. I especially like hearing of them from childhood and up. Thanks for inspiring!

Grace'n'Chaos said...

Pam, they both seemed to enjoy Meadow People the most. Did you know that she was a kindergarten teacher in Michigan? Who'd have thought.