Great outdoor education books

You'll find my monthly post published today at Simple Homeschool.  I've written about two things we enjoy very much; reading and the outdoors. The combination of these is a post titled, Great Books for an Outdoors Education.

Reading is something that inspires us to get outdoors more; to experience this great, wide and beautiful world we've read about. Then, after we've been outdoors and want to research what we've discovered for ourselves (ie: identifying the bugs, leaves and forest floor wildflowers) books are where we turn to find our answers

Just this morning I read Henry David's House to the kiddos.  Reading this very edited and richly illustrated (oh I just love children's picture books) version of the American classic Walden, or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau inspires me to follow my dreams for simpler living, leaves me pining to return to the woods (only 4 more days till our next hike) and has piqued my curiosity to read the original. 

If you'd like to find more outdoor/nature type books to read with your children you can check out my nature study shelf at Goodreads.  

This winter Damien upped the nature-book ante by reading outdoor adventure books to our family during the evenings. These are stories about people truly being in the outdoors, not just studying it from the comfort of their heated living rooms or well equipped science labs. He's got a booklist going also at Goodreads that you can see at the bottom of the AdventureinProgress mainpage

Have any of you read Walden, or Life in the Woods? What did you think? Would you recommend it?

PS. I know there's been a lot of posts lately on FIMBY about the outdoors.  This blog reflects my life, it's not an abstract writing project, and we've been reading about, talking about and spending lots of time outdoors. And we hope to do more.  It's a good thing but I do plan to post about other more "homey" subjects.  Maybe hopefully spring gardening, with some pretty photos. 

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

  • nicola@which name?

    nicola@which name? on March 10, 2010, 10:06 p.m.

    renee, wonderful inclusions! we have a number of these as well. my educational background is biology. my brother's is marine bio, so the kids get a lot of from exposure to that and interest in science on the part of me for supplemental education. i, too, love thoreau. john muir, as well. nicola Which Name?


  • Granola Girl

    Granola Girl on March 10, 2010, 11:59 p.m.

    I love Walden. However, it is a really easy book to completely kill the interest of. It is dry if you read it straight through. Thoreau didn't have an editor, he was self-published, and thus there are parts which get long or are redundant. The first time I read it my Honors American Lit class in high school was required to listen to the entire book on tape. Many of us, including myself, completely fell asleep.

    Later in life, I re-read Walden after realizing how wonderful it was. This time, I read it in chunks about a week apart. LOVE the book that way. LOVE the insights he has to nature, the cultural commentary it poses, the idea that much of our society is a microcosm of nature, the idea that you don't need the rat-race or the "stuff" and are usually happier without it. That kind of thing. If you are going to read it to your kids (which is highly cool) I would suggest little chunks and then discussion. Some of the book gets a little heady at times. It isn't above kids, they just might need some discussion to be able to break it down and process all of it into ideas they can then express. It would be a cool dinner table discussion kind of book. You could also talk about it as you hiked and saw things from the sections.

    My son's dad is an English teacher. We recite classical poetry while we hike. Walking Through Woods on a Snowy Evening has always been one of the Barracuda's favorites. He isn't big enough for full chapter discussions yet, but Walden is definitely in our future!


    • renee

      renee on March 12, 2010, 7:53 p.m.

      Thank you Granola Girl for this idea.  I'm intimidated by reading classics.  I'm not an english major myself, more of a science girl I am. And when I read I like to be entertained. I like to laugh out loud and in the end feel better about the world.  I also love beauty which is why I LOVE quality children's books.

      I hadn't planned on reading it to/with the kids. I feel this time I need to read and digest it myself.

      Reciting classical poetry while you hike - wow.  We like to sing sometimes but the only thing that gets the kids really going is  What do you do with a drunken sailor? We're seriously lacking in classical education around here. Lol!


  • texassky

    texassky on March 11, 2010, 12:40 a.m.

    Hi there. I enjoy reading your outdoor posts! Don't apologize because it's Thoreau-ly entertaining! Sorry, about that. I am a meteorologist not a comedian. Stick to what I know, right? Well, anyhow, thanks for the inspiration. I'm loving the new look!


  • Kelly Coyle DiNorcia

    Kelly Coyle DiNorcia on March 11, 2010, 12:46 a.m.

    I love Walden - I actually read it on a trip to Walden Pond a few years ago. It was summer, and I spent the day on the beach at the lake reading. It was lovely, and so interesting to be able to actually go see the house (or at least its location, the house isn't actually there any more) and the landscape and imagine what it must have been like for Thoreau. I am going to have to check out Henry David's House, maybe I'll bring it to read to the kids on our next trip to Massachusetts!


  • Spring

    Spring on March 11, 2010, 3:30 a.m.

    We had the pleasure of a snowy trek through Walden Woods last winter. Our friends live right on the edge of it, in Concord. Now I am homesick for a winter walk in the woods- what happened this year!? I never got one in!


  • Alisha

    Alisha on March 11, 2010, 3:44 a.m.

    Renee, I have a hard time finding field guides that aren't atrociously priced. I'm sorry, but I have a really hard time spending $25 on a book, I mean, that's a nice grocery bill.

    Do you have any recommendations for finding affordable field guides and other books that would be awesome for Nature Study?


    • renee

      renee on March 11, 2010, 12:32 p.m.

      Totally hear you on that cost account.

      I have a couple thoughts on that.  Firstly, we give guide books for gifts. More specifically, Nana & Papa give guide books for presents.  Presents that are very well received by our children, I should add. Secondly, homeschooling (or raising kids for that matter) does cost money and we choose to spend some of that on quality books for our kids.  We have a small homeschool budget, compared to some, and don't get any $$ through state education programs but we don't need much either.  Right now we're saving for a microscope.  

      All that to say we value guide books enough to buy them. BUT... you can find cheaper sources. Did you read my article at Simple Homeschool? I linked there to, a place to buy textbooks and such at a discounted price.

      Oh, and you don't even want to want to know how much I spend on produce and groceries because $25 doesn't even come close to one of our weekly purchases (smile).


  • Alisha

    Alisha on March 11, 2010, 2:48 p.m.

    Lol, I hear you there. Yeah, I usually spend $75-$100 a week. It's hard work feeding black holes. sobs and they haven't even hit puberty yet! Heaven help us!

    I THOUGHT I had read your posting on SH, but I guess I just looked at Simple Mom. (I got lost in browsing the natural beauty product posts last night) Heading over there now. :) Thanks!


  • daffodil_lane

    daffodil_lane on March 12, 2010, 3:49 p.m.

    Wonderful list!! We have many of these, and I would never have thought to place them in a nature category. Duh. This will help us make even more connections, which seem to be a big point in why my kids are learning better at home, all those connections from one thing to the next. I am really looking forward to your post on how to find time from your perspective. Because let's face it, as vegetarians, somehow veggies in a crock pot all day do not have quite the same effect as meat in there all day. :) You have seriously inspired me to pare down my life in order to persue what's important, and to take a look at what happiness truly is. It's likely not found in making more money or acquiring new things.

    (Alisha) I find tons of good books at Goodwill. Field guides included - in perfect condition, and even one with an unopened bird call CD included. Granted, it helps to go at least weekly. I find that having a plan for the next few months helps me know what I am looking for. Almost all of our classic children's literature has been acquired from Goodwill, in lovely condition. This affords me the great books that I don't find, guilt free, on amazon, knowing I've tried first to search them out second hand.

    (Renee) Thanks for the sweet comment about my daughter. She is growing up beautifully and far too quickly! The photography... let's just say I have my work cut out for me in that department! It is fun though.


    • renee

      renee on March 12, 2010, 7:08 p.m.

      daffodil lane - I had to read this 3 times to figure out what "post on how to find time from your perspective" meant Lol! I'm assuming you're referring to the follow up post I've promised to Damien's One Day a Week post.  Where I plan to write about getting outdoors as a whole family one day a week from a homemaker's perspective.  If not, please do let me know what you're talking about so I don't disappoint (smile).  

      So true about veggies in the crockpot. Just ain't happenin'

      I'm honored and humbled that I'm inspiring you (ducking my head sheepishly).  What I'm trying to do is live my life with honesty and according to our values and then to share that experience with others.  A whole group of people living intentionally has the power to change things, that's something I find inspiring!


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