Living Books for Nature Study

by Jimmie Lanley on December 3, 2013

Living Books for Nature Study

Of course, the best way to learn about nature is through first hand experiences. Nothing can substitute for a nature walk. But a living book with nature themes is a great option when you’re not out exploring the woods or the beach. Fortunately for us, many of the books Charlotte Mason recommended are available for free in the public domain.

Science should never be boring! If you are a homeschooler, consider replacing your dull science textbooks with real books – living books. Both fiction and non-fiction books can be valuable for teaching science in an engaging and memorable way. Simply Charlotte Mason has an excellent article about the value of adding science books to your nature study.

Four Main Types of Nature Books

  1. novels in natural settings
  2. nature readers
  3. biographies of famous naturalists
  4. non-fiction picture books

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Books Recommended by Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason recommended these naturalists’ books for reading aloud to children. As she says, they are “all pleasant reading, many of them written by scientific men, and yet requiring little or no scientific knowledge for the enjoyment.” Fortunately many of them have entered the public domain and can be found online for free.
1. Fairyland of Science by Arabella Buckley, 1879. Topics include sunbeams, the ocean, water, ice, a rose, coal, bees. This book is also free in Kindle format. You can find a free audio recording of this classic at Librivox.

2. Madam How and Lady Why by Charles Kingsley, 1891. This is mainly a book about geology –earthquakes, volcanoes, coral reefs, soil, etc.

3. Wild Animals I Have Known by Ernest Thompson Seton, 1898. Tales of eight wild animals — crow, fox, dog, mustang, etc.

4. Works by William J. Long The Baldwin Project has online texts for four volumes of Long’s Animal Nature Stories:

  • School of the Woods
  • Ways of Wood Folk
  • Secrets of the Woods
  • A Little Brother to the Bear

5. Water Babies by Charles Kingsley, 1863. A novel about a boy who lives underwater and learns about sea creatures. Get a free audio book at LibriVox.

Living in the Woods Fiction

For many of us, thoughts of nature evoke images of the forest. These books all deal with people living in or trying to save the forest.

Kildee House
by Rutherford G. Montgomery
This Sonlight title is a very sweet book about a man living in the woods who befriends not only a lot of animals but an entire family.

My Side of the Mountain
by Jean Craighead George
A classic book about survival in the wild.

by Gary Paulsen

Riding the Flume
by Patricia Curtis Pfitsch

Chapter Books —Wildlife Turned Pet

An owl, a raccoon, a capybara, and a panda are all unlikely pets. But in these novels for grades 3-5, wild animals do become pets. Through the fiction, children learn about wildlife.

Modern Nature Readers

These books were not in print in Miss Mason’s time, but they certainly fit the spirit of the nature tales she recommended. The book number roughly represents grade level. Read a review of these books, written by a homeschool mom, at Curriculum Choice.

Christian Liberty Nature Reader Books 1-5  (Christian Liberty Nature Readers)

(The information in this post came from a Squidoo lens I created. But due to some restrictions there, I have relocated the information to my own site.)

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary December 3, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Riding The Flume is one of Anna’s all time favorite books!


Freedom Acres Farm December 4, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Two of our favorites are Miracles on Maple Hill and Girl of the Limberlost!! We LOVE nature living books!!!


Nina April 11, 2014 at 2:15 pm

I love nature novels! Another good one is Lost in the Barrens by Canadian author and environmentalist, Farley Mowat! Brilliant! Also, Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling, an American author!


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