Connecting Children to Nature

| 1890 - 1940 | 1940 - 1960 | 1960 - 1980 | 1980 - Today | Special Interest Series |

Literature from 1890 to 1940

Seed Babies by Margaret Warner Morley - 1898

Seed BabiesAges (8-12)

  • Summary:  Three little children, excited by their discovery of how beans grow from seeds begin to watch closely for new life springing up all around them.
  • Quote:  "But I don’t care; for more leaves will grow above the first two, and I shall have plenty of stem and many leaves… I am just a bean baby."

Question:  Have you ever planted a seed and watched it grow?  Tell me about it.

Literature from 1890 to 1940 Discussion Blog

The Wild Animals I Have Known by Ernest Thompson Seton - 1899 

Wild Animals(Young adult)

Podcast (excerpt)

  • Summary:  Seton, a naturalist and one of the co-founders of the Boy Scouts of America, wrote this collection of fictional stories and sketches from his extensive notes on the behavior of animals and birds.
  • Quote: "Lobo came trotting along the trail, but he stopped in time, and why or how he knew enough I cannot tell, the Angel of the wild things must have been with him …" 
  • Question: Have you ever watched and kept notes on how animals behave in the wild?  What would be your favorite method: writing in a journal or drawing sketches?

Literature from 1890 to 1940 Discussion Blog

Among the Meadow People by Clara Dillingham Pierson - 1901

Among the MeadowAges (8 - 12)

Podcast (excerpt)

  • Summary:  Pierson has written a delightful book that explores the life of everyday meadow creatures.  You will be captivated by the fantastical tales of birds, insects, and small animals.
  • Quote:  "I am willing to speak to you, of course, but we can never be friendly.  A Mat beetle, indeed, in company with a caterpillar!  I choose my friends among the Moths, Butterflies, and Dragonflies, - in fact, I move in the upper circles."
  • Question:  Have you ever sat in a meadow or field and looked closely with a magnifying glass at the living world around you?

Literature from 1890 to 1940 Discussion Blog

Old Mother West Wind by Thornton W. Burgess  –  1910

Mother West WindAges (8-12)

Podcast (excerpt)

  • Summary:  Burgess captures the love of nature in this series of short novels containing tales that reflect his childhood.  He weaves morality into a wild world set among gentle creatures of the earth.
  • Quote:  "I’ve just come across the Green Meadows, said Old Mother West Wind, " and there I saw the Best Thing in the World."
  • Question:  What have you seen in your environment that might inspire you to write a story?

Literature from 1890 to 1940 Discussion Blog

Literature from 1940 to 1960

Paddle to the Sea by Holling Clancy Holling - 1946

Paddle to the SeaAges (9 - 12)

  • Summary:  A boy carves a wooden model of an Indian in a canoe and after placing it in Canada’s Lake Nipigon, the water takes the canoe on a journey through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, eventually ending in the Atlantic Ocean.  Holling embraces a sense of wonder when the canoe is discovered as it travels down it's along it’s natural pathway.
  • Quote:  "The rain made a thick curtain.  The pond rose by an inch.  Part of the sandy main along the river bank gave way.  Torn lily pads, loose wood, and islands of watercress raced in and out to Lake Superior.  Paddle was again on his way to sea."
  • Question:  If you placed a little wooden canoe in the waters of the Potomac, where might the waters take it?  Look on a map and see if you can plot its possible course.

Paddle to the Sea Discussion Blog

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey - 1948

BlueberriesAges (3-7)

  • Summary:  Sal and her mother go blueberry picking one afternoon in the countryside.  Sal gets so engrossed in her picking that she does not notice a mother bear and her cub nearby.  Both families work side by side picking and eating berries.  Sal and the cub form a connection through their playful attitudes and a common love of blueberries.
  • Quote:  "Kuplink, Kuplank, Kuplunk…"
  • Question:  Have you ever seen a bear up close?  What would you do if you saw a bear and her cub eating blueberries?

Blueberries for Sal Discussion Blog

A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry - 1956

A Tree is NiceAges: (3 - 7)

  • Summary:  A Tree is Nice celebrates all the ways trees make our life fun and meaningful. The pictures are simple and memorable.
  • Quote:  "A tree is nice because it has a trunk and limbs.  We can climb the tree and see over all the years."
  • Question:  Do you have a favorite tree?  What is special about your favorite tree?

A Tree is Nice Discussion Blog



The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson - 1956

Sense of Wonder(All Ages)

  • Summary: Carson and her young gran-nephew observe nature up close. She urges parents to introduce their children to the wonders of nature all around them and to nuture children to develop an instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring.
  • Quote:  "There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature-the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter."
  • Question:  Name something that you have seen, heard, or felt in the woods, at the beach, or any outdoor place that you thought was beautiful or special?

The Sense of Wonder Discussion Blog

Literature from 1960 -1980

The Giving TreeThe Giving Tree: by Shel Silverstein - 1964

Ages: (3-7)

  • Summary: A boy and the tree share a friendship that illustrates the gifts from Mother Nature that we overlook everyday.
  • Quote: " And the tree was happy."
  • Question: Sit and take a moment and spend some time with a tree. Become a tree in your mind or move your arms like a tree branches in the wind. How do you feel?

The Giving Tree Discussion Blog

Ranger Rick Magazine - National Wildlife Federation - 1967

Ranger RickAges: (7 - 12)

Summary:  Ranger Rick is a children’s magazine first published in 1967 by the National Wildlife Federation.  The magazine is a major resource for teachers, parents and students in the classroom and home in understanding the natural environment.  Ranger Rick, a racoon and the leader of a small group of animals living in the deep woods, has explored the world with his friends for over 40 years.  Through their adventures children learn about how to protect the natural environment instilling a sense of stewardship at a young age.

Quote:  "Long celebrated for engaging children with wildlife, Ranger Rick’s magazine captivating stories and photos foster a deep connection with nature."

Question: Have you ever helped a group of people pick up trash or care for nature in a special way? 

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George - 1972 (Newberry Award Winner)

Julie of the Wolves(Young adult)

  • Summary:  Lost in the Alaskan tundra with no food and no shelter, thirteen -year - old Miyax, or Julie, discovers the value of her family’s traditional Eskimo ways as she struggles to survive by winning the acceptance of a pack of wolves. 
  • Quote:  "Out here she understood how she fitted  into the scheme of the moon and stars and the constant rise and fall of life on earth."
  • Question: Think about a time when you had a relationship with an animal. What did you learn from them?  What did the animal learn from you?  

Julie of the Wolves Discussion Blog

Sharing Nature With Children by Joseph Cornell - 1979 [updates 1989, 1998]

Sharing Nature

  • Summary:   Cornell's guide engages and encourages teachers and parents to spend time with children in nature and use sensory and physical activities to nurture a love of the natural world. Highly recommended for educators and parents. 
  • Quote:  "The unutterable Beauty of a blossom, the grace of a high flying bird.  The roar of wind in the trees.  At one time or another in our lives, nature touches you… and me …and all of us in some personal way."
  • Question:  Take a walk around the woods.  Draw a picture of everything that you love about the woods.  Can you remember everything?



Literature from 1980 to Today:

Owl MoonOwl Moon by Jane Yolen - 1987

Ages (Pre-K to 1st grade )

  • Summary:  A father takes his daughter "owling" one wintry night.  Their walk awakens the senses.  The woods are quiet, but full of life.  An encounter with a great horned owl connects the girl and her father in a special way.
  • Quote:  "We watched silently with heat in our mouths, the heat of all our words we had not spoken.  The shadow hooted again."
  • Question:  What did you learn about owls from reading Owl Moon?  Can you make the sound the owl made?

Owl Moon Discussion Blog

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen - 1987

HatchetGrades 6 and up


  • Summary:  Thirteen - year - old Brian is the only survivor when a small plane crashes into the Canadian Wilderness. He learns to build a fire, fish and hunt, and make a home with a single hatchet.  Lots of gritty detail creates an exhausting and exhilarating story of the personal qualities needed to understand and appreciate the forces of nature.
  • Quote:  "He started ripping the bark, using his fingernails at first, and when that didn’t work he used the sharp edge of the Hatchet, cutting the bark into thin slivers, hairs so fine they were almost not there."
  • Question:  What was it about Brian that made it possible for him to survive in the wilderness alone?

Hatchet Discussion Blog

Flotsam by David Wiesner - 1998 (Caldecott Award Winner)

Flotsam(Infant - Grade 2)

Summary:  Readers of Flotsam are transfixed by the vivid watercolor paintings in this wordless story exploring the ocean life. 

Quote:  "A boy walking on the beach discovers a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera and what he finds on the film inside will delight and amaze you."

Question:  We see the pictures from the camera that the boy found on the beach.  Choose the picture you like best and tell me what you see?

Flotsam Discussion Blog

Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman - 1988

Joyful Noise

(Young Adult)

Summary:  Written to be read aloud by two voices – sometimes alternating, sometimes simultaneous – Joyful Noise is a collection of irresistible poems celebrating the insect world.  From the short life of the mayfly to the love song of the book louse, this is a book to share, with your family as you make a joyful noise together.

Let light undying       Let Light undying

    Shine Upon them      Shine Upon Them

    Question:  What is your favorite song made by insects in the summer?  How do you feel when thinking about that song?

Special Interest Series

Brother Eagle, Sister Sky by Chief Seattle; Illustrated by Susan Jeffers {Native American Perspective]

bbsisSummary:  A powerful message of respect for the Earth and all its creatures told in stunning pictures and words.  Adapted from a speech delivered by Chief Seattle at treaty negotiations in the 1850’s are words to ponder and to cherish.

Quote:  "The bear, the deer, the great eagle , these are our brothers."

Question:  Chief Seattle sounds both proud and sad in this speech he made to Congress.  What is he proud  of ?  What is making him sad?

Project Learning Tree: Activity Guide K-6 - American Forest Council - 1990

  • Summary: "Project Learning Tree offers an opportunity for educators and students to step into the forest…the forest of poetry and song, of richness and renewing life, of culture and of nature…and to thereby develop awareness, knowledge, and skills necessary for living in harmony with the world of living and non-living things" (Kirkland, 1990 - Preface).
  • Quote: "ProjectHealing WoundsObjective - Students will be able to recognize damage to plants and also the ability of trees to heal themselves."
  • Question:  How many times have you used Project Learning Tree in a science class?  What was your favorite lesson?  If not tell your science teacher about this resource.

Wild Song: Poems of the Natural World - Edited by John Daniel et al. - 1998 [Nature Poetry]

Wild Song

  • Summary:  83 poems offering visions of creatures and landscapes from all regions of America.  Aside from the scientific understanding of nature, poetry brings a just – as – important knowledge based in the heart.
  • Quote:  "When we learn the language of trees
    • Will we hear the season’s pulse?
    • And find the heart’s beat is but an echo?"
  • Question:  Have ever written a poem about a defining sensory experience in nature?


Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit by Richard Louv - 2006

Last Child in the woodsSummary:  Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical growth of children and adults. 

Quote:  "There is a real world, beyond the glass, for children who look, for those whose parents encourage them to truly see."

Question:  How can we weave nature into our daily existence so that we grow to be healthy mindful people.




No Child Left Indoors: Creating a Field Guide to your Schoolyard by Jane Kirkland - 2007

  • Summary:  Kirkland delivers a guide inviting quality environmental education to children right in the schoolyard.  The lesson plans presented in the manual provide practices for teachers and student s to gain a better understanding of plants, animals, and insects that inhabit schoolyards every day.  The plans are detailed and fun for everyone, even the shy and timid child in the classroom.
  • Quote:  "Students learn about environmental ethics, respect, kindness, and caring for the environment.  They will witness the effects of human impact on our natural world."
  • Question:  What would be the first step in making a Field for your schoolyard habitat?