Episode 21: Nature Lore


This podcast episode explains Charlotte Mason's use of nature lore books and how they expand outdoor nature study work. Listen for lots of hints of our favorite such books.

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"Our main dependence is on books as an adjunct to out-of-door work...In [these] books the children are put in the position of the original observer of biological and other phenomena. They learn what to observe, and make discoveries for themselves, original so far as they are concerned. They are put in the right attitude of mind for scientific observations and deductions, and their keen interest is awakened." (Vol. 3, p. 237

"The real use of naturalists' books is to give the child delightful glimpses into the world of wonders he lives in, reveal the sorts of things to be seen by curious eyes, and fill him with desire to make discoveries for himself." (Vol. 1, p. 64)



If you would like to study along with us, here are some passages from The Home Education Series and other Parent's Review articles that would be helpful for this episode's topic. You may also read the series online here, or get the free Kindle version from Fisher Academy.

The Charm of Nature Study, Parents' Review Article



Eyes and No Eyes Series, Arabella Buckley or online here.

Madam How and Lady Why, Charles Kingsley or online here.

Life and Her Children, Arabella Buckley

The Storybook of Science, Jean Henri Fabre or online here.

Winners in Life's Race, Arabella Buckley or online here.

We Were There with Charles Darwin on the H.M.S. Beagle, Philip Eisenberg

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard

John Muir Books

John Burroughs

Autumn Across America, Edwin Way Teale

Life of the Spider, Jean Henri Fabre

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, Jacqueline Kelly

The Grasshopper Book, Wilfrid Bronson

Robert McClung Books

Olive Earle Books

Millicent Selsam Books

Charles Ripper Books

Alice Goudey Books

Girl of the Limberlost, Gene Stratton-Porter

The Keeper of the Bees, Gene Stratton-Porter

A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold

William Long Books

Treasury for Children, James Herriot

All Creatures Great and Small, James Herriot

Rascal, Sterling North

(Contains affiliate links)

27 comments:

  1. Love it! :) I'm reading Wandering Through Winter now and I really am enjoying it. I loved the Keeper of the Bees...such a good one!

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    1. Nature lore books are my favorites! I'm glad you are enjoying a few yourself.
      -Nicole

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  2. Yay! I love all the book recommendations. Thank you!

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  3. This is a wonderful list of books! I did not start CM with my daughter until 7th grade, so we missed many of the nature study books for younger children. We are volunteering to read aloud to 8-10 year old children who are struggling scholastically and I plan to incorporate some of these.

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    1. What a wonderful way to acquaint yourself with the treasures you did not experience yourself. It is only as adults that we have become familiar with many of these wonderful books too.
      -Liz

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  4. Love the podcast!!! Thanks so much for all the book recommendations!!!

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    1. I'm glad you are enjoying it, Kara!
      -Nicole

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  5. A few minutes before I listened to this episode, I found the book, "The Lure of the Falcon" in my mother in law's house. I started reading it and so far it seems to fit perfectly as Nature Lore. Thanks for all these great book suggestionsand teaching us what to look for in our Natural History books!

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    1. You are most welcome, and continue to enjoy exploring that whole wide world of literature.
      -Liz

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  6. What do you think about the Burgess Animal Book? I recently bought it for my Form 1 child and find it very dry- but I am trying to rekindle a love for nature in myself and don't know if I am the best judge.

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    1. Katie,

      There are just too many good books to slog through one that isn't grabbing you--especially when it comes to such an enthralling subject as nature study! For alternatives, we'd recommend looking at Nicole's Nature Lore Books page and choosing something that sounds interesting to you: http://sabbathmoodhomeschool.com/charlotte-mason-living-science/nature-lore-books/

      Let us know if you find something good!

      -Emily

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    2. Thank you for the site; it is so helpful!!! If I remember you correctly on the podcast, I should read from two books a week. One like Eyes and No Eyes to inspire observation and give vocabulary and then one book about any animal. Is that right?

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    3. We ordered the African Critters book because my daughter nearly jumped out of her chair when she saw it online. :) I also ordered the first volume of Eyes and No Eyes to read together as well. I really love what you said about not looking up the animal afterwards, but to read to them beforehand to hone their observation skills. That's one of our goals for homeschooling. We really want our children to be able to SEE.

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    4. I hope she loves the African Critters book, Katie! My ten year old to read it and declared, "I wish all books were like this!" I would also suggest you look at my article Elementary Science - Form I (grades 1-3) for a little more information on what types of books to use. All of the books should inspire observation and give vocabulary. It's just that their topics vary. You are looking for one that is based on an ecological region, (like a pond or forest,) and one that is based on a type of animal, (like an insect or birds). The older Form 1 students also sometimes focused on animals they could not see except in a zoo. Which is where the African Critters book comes in. Enjoy!
      -Nicole

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  7. I was just going to wonder why you guys didn't recommend the Burgess books myself, since we really like them, but I will add the caveat that I enjoy the individual animal tales much more than the big Animal book recommended by AO.

    Also, I would like to add Jim Arnosky as a great author for supplemental things. He has a fantastic tracks identification book, called Wild Tracks, that just came out. And all of his Sketching Outdoors in ... (Spring, Summer, Autumn, or Winter) are great for honing observation skills, not just learning to draw. I personally love his Drawing Life in Motion. I really feel like he is sitting there talking with you while you're drawing.

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    1. Sarah,

      It's so good to hear your family has been delving into some excellent Nature Lore!

      I agree about the individual stories! I like the Burgess Bird, Animal, Flower, and Seashore books, but not to read cover to cover. They are good to pick up here and there to find out more about a particular species.

      And thank you for bringing up Arnosky! He is a favorite in our house, and I will be sure to add Wild Tracks to my list of books to add to the library. The Sketching Outdoors series is wonderful, as is Drawing from Nature.

      Honestly, there are just so many good nature lore books, we were exercising restraint with our recommendations!

      -Emily

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    2. Thank you for the book suggestion! My daughter has been struggling with her nature journal pics (they are never good enough) and so my husband has been helping her sketch with pencils (one of his passions). I think they both will be thrilled with these books!

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  8. What about Beatrix Potter books? Did CM appreciate them or recommend them?

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    1. Alissa,

      I'm not sure I've ever read a reference by Mason to Potter, but they lived in the same neighborhood. I think Beatrix Potter is excellent reading for babies to four-year-olds--and I still enjoy them, actually.

      -Liz

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  9. I was wondering what up you guys thought about using Nature Friend magazine as a natural lore book for form 1. We love the magazine and it exposes us to a variety of topics we wouldn't normally cover.

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    1. You asked what we think, so we will simply say that we think it's great for you to have such an informative magazine around to use, but it does not qualify for nature lore reading for formal school lessons. For one thing, a magazine is not a book with one narrative thread, but short articles. They should be having some more systematic approach to a particular area of nature study for school.

      -Liz

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  10. We already have the Burgess Animal book and Pagoo. We live on a coast, so I was considering using these two for our upcoming 1A year. Please let me know if I'm on the right track with this: Pagoo for the Regional (nature lore 2--and could this be spread over both 2nd and 3rd years?), Burgess Animal/Seashore for animals (nature lore 1). I could then pick from some others for our specials. To mix things up every so often, I'd love to use the Eyes No Eyes books, but would these fall under Nature lore 1 or 2 (or does it depend on the title)? Thank you so much!!

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    1. You need to be careful with page counts. Mason would have assigned one Buckley book (for a single term or even over 2 terms) and another book of a similar size (or a portion of a book. So if you use Burgess, be sure not to use too much. I highly recommend one Buckley each term for these grades. There is nothing like them. If you find Pago too difficult for your students at this age, save for special studies in form 2.
      ~Nicole

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  11. Good to know, thanks so much. I wasn't sure how to use the Buckley, so this clears things up. We used the Burgess Bird with HUFI/AO which recommended a full bird story every other week (I just did the bird rather then the whole chapter). In adjusting to CM's actual way of incorporating these reads, would it be okay to cover a particular animal over several readings since that particular book would only be 10 minutes per week--to allow plenty of time for narration. I was even thinking to not plan the animals onto the schedule, but just read bit by bit each week.
    Also, at this age, is it just Object lessons, or should I be including special studies as well (but maybe use a bit lighter resource if Pagoo is too much (smile))? Thanks again so much for your time in answering alllll these questions.

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  12. Oops, please ignore that last question about special studies vs. Object lessons. . .I found the answer on your website!

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    1. Glad you found my website. There's definitely more information over there. To answer the question in the middle "In adjusting to CM's actual way of incorporating these reads, would it be okay to cover a particular animal over several readings since that particular book " - let the time be your guide. You'll get through what you get through. No rushing or causing your child (or you) to feel behind.
      ~Nicole

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