Our Favourite Nature Books
As a family, we take inspiration from the Charlotte Mason approach to Home Education which focuses heavily on books; living books rich in beautiful language and unstructured time in nature. Both elements are intentionally weaved throughout our Home Education. Our books are selected carefully, free from 'twaddle', Mason's term for books lacking in quality language, that may have been simplified to appeal to children. Twaddle books are those that simply state the facts without the ability to enrich the experience of reading, books that fail to absorb you into a reading abyss. Instead, Mason believes that children should be exposed to books with rich language, that make us want to keep turning the page or find more. Books that you want to revisit time and time again, those that keep your mind from drifting off elsewhere. Books are a huge part of our day to day family life so I'd like to share a few that we love and enhance our Home Education beautifully.
My first selection was easy, two of my favourite nature study collections. At the top are some of the 'Science, Let's Read and Find Out' collection and at the bottom are a couple by Gail Gibbons. Both series are a great introduction to nature study (they also do other science topics too), written to give the child enough information on the topic in a factual way, but without the dry language. The content is plentiful and each page leaves you wanting to read the next. All of these books are full of wonder moments that encourage little imaginations and fill them with joy.
Next on my list are 'A Seed is Sleepy' and 'A Nest is Noisy'. There are a few others in the series, too. These books are so rich in information. Aside from the main text are many snippets of information within the stunning illustrations. These books introduce the nature process gently for younger children but in depth enough for those with older children. Also, I chose to add in our Wendy Pfeffer seasonal books. I LOVE these books (I can't get my hands on a copy of the summer solstice, frustratingly) and they feel like a giant cuddle from the seasons. Based on both the winter and summer solstice, and autumn and spring equinox, these books celebrate seasonal rhythms around the world.
During our morning time we tend to read lots of poetry, mostly from these three books. Gathering blankets, cushions and cosying up on the floor is a favourite part of our day, enhanced by these beautiful books. 'I am the Seed....' has a nature poem for every day and the Nicola Davies 'A First Book of Nature' is split into seasonal sections with beautiful verses, perfect for introducing your young child to poetry. Now, I couldn't leave out the Flower Fairies collection. This little treasury is a collection of poetry about nature fairies. I just love reading these to Ella. The language is rich, helping to extend her vocabulary and the illustrations are just gorgeous.
I had to add in some fiction with none other than the Brambly Hedge collection. They are perfect for an afternoon read aloud, curled up with some home baked cookies. These books warm my heart like no other. Sweet little mice going about their daily lives whilst introducing us to a variety of nature concepts. A must have.
I couldn't finish without mentioning these two. 'The Lost Words' is an incredible 'spell' book about the magic words of nature. With words such as acorn, fern, starling and weasel now less common in our children's vocabulary than many brand logos, we owe it to them to do the spells and keep the words alive. 'Slow Down' is about the nature processes that one risks missing if you lead a fast paced life. With beautiful illustrations and step by step information of how changes occur within nature, this beautiful book is one you don't want to leave on the shelf.