I'm often asked for natural history themed reading selections or books that might be good for a science/nature book club. I know there are many different flavors of science and what people like to read, but I thought I'd offer a list of books that I've read or those that are good for conversations in nature-related book clubs. This list is largely populated by the "Natural Selections" reading list from the Cape Henlopen book group I belonged to for years. I miss those late night discussions, they were wonderful. So for those of you thinking of buying books for loved ones, starting a book club, looking to expand your library, or for some fun winter reading, here's a list.
Birders (those who bird watch) and naturalists often have very esoteric (strange?) and earthy humor but it's uniquely paired with wit, which I love. In this blog post I want to tip my hat to a bird humor group that I joined called the "Facebook Bird Identification Group." This group prides itself in all the completely wrong and improbable identification makes that you could possibly every come up with about birds, in a fun and cheeky way. Recently one of the members posted a request for members to think of all of the bird-based novels they could possibly come up with, and the responses were amazing. I couldn't help but want to share these with the greater world because they are just that funny. So, without further ado here are Book Titles for the Birds, brought to you by the inspired minds of the "Facebook Bird Misidentifiers.
Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation, The Definitive Guide to the Evolution of Sex
Dr. Ruth Meets David Attenborough
In honor of Valentines Day I thought I'd share with you one of my all time favorite books. It's called, Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation, The Definitive Guide to the Evolution of Sex by Olivia Judson. The reason I like Dr. Tatiana is because she's written a book that I would consider as being the love child of Dr. Ruth and David Attenborough. It has tongue in cheek humor about animals and their unique reproductive problems. As her website suggests, it's "..witty but rigorous."
Naturalist's Apprentice Books: Exploring Unsung Naturalists and Inspiring Young Readers
Delve Into the History of the Founders of Natural History
As a naturalist I've always prided myself in being self-taught, then going to school, later to teach, and then continuing my learning through teaching. However, I was never taught much about the people that made being a naturalist a possibility. There are many, many unsung heroes that contributed to the study of natural history that we have never been told about. Do you ever recall learning about the first woman to scientifically study aquatic invertebrates, or learning about one of the first Native American wildlife biologists and doctors, or maybe hearing about a famous African American entomologist? In the history of science, these important people are often glossed over. If you're like me and countless other naturalists, you were probably never given a history of your own natural history interests. This is why I want to share with you a wonderful series of books called the Naturalist's Apprentice Series by Michael Elsohn Ross.
Changing Consciousness from Consumerism to Gift-Thinking Awareness
The Possibility of Deviating from "Ownership" to "Responsibility."
I like to diversify my posts a bit, and I thought it would be interesting to share a new, yet old, idea that I came across in a book called Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a Potawatomi woman, botanist and ecologist. I haven't made it all the way through her book, because it's so full of wisdom and ideas that I enjoy savoring each chapter, reading it, putting it down, absorbing it, and then coming back. It's a slow process, but one I enjoy with good books.
The most recent chapter that I read was, "The Gift of Strawberries." In this chapter Kimmerer discusses the bounty and joy of picking wild strawberries and the gift of fruit. As a child she picked wild strawberries and then gave them to their mother to bake as a special gift for their father. In the chapter she states, "Gifts from the earth or from each other establish a particular relationship, an obligation of sorts to give, to receive, and to reciprocate." The idea that she develops is that the way that an object comes to you, the relationship of how you acquire it, colors how you use and own it. In modern store bought consumerism, objects that are bought do not have an "inherent obligation" to them because the reciprocity ends when you pay for that object. There is no relationship established between the manufacturer and the buyer. However, the author goes on to explain, when the relationship changes, from producer and consumer to giver and receiver, then a bond is created between the two people. In a "gift economy" there is no capital, or collateral. What develops instead is not "something for nothing" but a form of obligation between individuals. The gifts are not free because they come with an obligation to reciprocate by either giving back to the giver, giving the gift to someone else (thus increasing the value), or not asking for "too much" because what you are receiving is a gift.
Visit National Parks in 3-D Pop-up With the new National Parks Pop-up Book
1930s Style Posters Illustrations Bring Parks to Life in 3-D National Parks Pop-up Book
I have a love and appreciation for all that our National Parks do for conservation and protection of wild-lands in America. And as an outdoor educator that has worked in National Parks (yes, I wore the Smokey the Bear hat) I also respect how hard the Rangers and staff work with very little resources and pay. These parks have been tasked with excellence in service, collaborations, citizen science, heritage education, employee development, management, research, technology, and more (https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/mission.htm). Of the 59 parks under NPS there have been over 282 million visitors each year, and the numbers are growing. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park saw over 10 million visitors in 2012 alone. The golden Gate National Recreation Area had over 14 million visitors, and the Blue Ridge Parkway had over 15 million visitors (National Parks Traveler).
Dr. Seuss Nature Books and TV Show on PBS for Children
Science and Nature in Verse
Growing up I always loved the Dr. Seuss books, especially the "Cat in the Hat," which is why I'm excited to say that there is a set of Dr. Seuss nature books for the next generation of kids. PBS has teamed up with Dr. Seuss artists and writers to create a series called "The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That," which is a science and nature series of books, animated short films (30 minutes), and lesson plans for elementary school students.
Uncover Books offer a range of books for kids (and adults) interested in knowing what goes on inside of animals.
As we're approaching Christmas, and attention is turning once again to holiday shopping and ideas I wanted to review a series of books that I've found to be a great supplement to my classes and that kids absolutely love. They are called "Uncover Books." The books are a hybrid of the models you made as a kid of the clear human body and a board book. But these books are much more.