Leaf through a good nature book…

With all the holiday hype … Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Sale-sale-sale … it could be easy to overlook one of the best gifts of all times … a well-selected book.

Just such a book is found in my personal library; a volume given to me over fifty years ago. As a ten-year-old, I was fascinated by the ocean and the creatures that dwell there. I was sure that I would grow up to become a marine biologist like Rachel Carson. So it is not surprising that one of the top items on my Christmas wish list was for a book written by her, The Sea Around Us. Santa did not disappoint… he left that well-selected book for me under our christmas tree; a treasure that has remained in my book collection ever since. As I leaf through the pages, the remnants of my engagement with the words written by Ms. Carson are still there. I smile with the discovery of penciled in notes I jotted in the margins so long ago.

A sense of wonder about the natural history of our planet, Earth, can still be sparked by well-selected books. Whether the selection be traditional hard-copy or twenty-first century electronic,  finding the perfect nature book is still a gift that should not be over-looked.

For children of all ages, there are two books that I believe all should own:


The Lorax, by Dr. Suess

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

This quote from The Lorax (1971), encourages readers to care about saving the environment. In this story, a boy who lives in a polluted town visits an old man named the Once-ler. The Once-ler tells the boy about the Lorax, a mysterious creature who ”speaks for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.” As the boy learns  why the town became so polluted and sees the affects it has on living creatures, he begins to understand the importance of nature and the urgency for promoting the responsible management of Earth’s natural resources. This book can spark conversation about the importance of becoming responsible stewards of our planet and her resources.


The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein

“And the tree was happy.” (But, was it really?)

The storyline seems simple, and first glance… about a boy who receives the gifts of nature’s bounty …

However, this book has generated many opposing opinions. One interpretation is from an environmental perspective. Shel Silverstein’s message is sure to inspire intriguing conversation, and can be used to examine the affects of taking from the environment and not giving back.

Other Ideas for Well-Selected Book Choices-


Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv

For parents who wish to enrich the lives of their children by sharing nature experiences with them, a list of books on the Children and Nature website provides excellent well-selected book choices. Please seriously consider purchasing a copy of Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. His research about the importance nature plays in the social, emotional, and academic growth of children is impacting, and his suggestions for overcoming, what he calls, nature deficit disorder, could dramatically change how the family spends time:


For people of all ages, the selection of a nature guide is an excellent choice. Pick a nature category tailored to the interests of the people on your gift list. The following are suggestions from Good Reads :



  1. One recent picture book that you may have seen is You Are Stardust by environmental scientist / educator Elin Kelsey, illustrated by Soyeon Kim. I caught a CBC interview with Kelsey, who said she’s worried that fewer young people will choose to enter environmental science programs because they’ve been depressed and guilted by growing up with so many negatively-slanted news stories. So she penned a simple narrative outlining our relation to Earth’s beginnings and other planets and pollen…we drink the same water that dinosaurs drank, and start new flowers when we sneeze…

    I’m not disparaging The Lorax. Advocacy begins with Seuss! I think Kelsey’s viewpoint, though, might be that if you start by loving Fido, you’ll be more inclined to brush him and walk him.


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