A field guide ~ that handy little book (or big book, as the case may be) that tells you factually exactly what you need to know about what you wanted to know about.
Not exactly what we think of when we think living books. Living books for me usually encompass thoughts about a really great story that captures my heart and emotions…ties me to a piece of knowledge, whether that be history or science or art or music or even math. Isn’t that the Charlotte Mason way?
It is, but oh can it be so much more!
Around this house it is the field guides that are the beloved books that steal my children’s hearts. It is the field guides that are in tatters with missing covers and a few torn pages, well-worn from the turning and turning that happens to them. It is the field guides that my children will turn to over and over that lead to the most interesting discussions and interest-led learning opportunities. It is the pictures that capture their imagination at the pre-reading level and then grow with them as they enter into the reading fold. It is the realist that touches them as their natural curiosity is insatiable.
And it was the same for me when I was a child. Yes, I remember falling in love with Laura Ingalls and Nancy Drew and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But, really, it was the Golden Guide’s pocket book on butterflies that captured me and stirred up my heart for later adult hobbies. So why shouldn’t it be the same for my children?
After all, Charlotte did say ~
…knowledge, that is, roughly, ideas clothed upon with facts, is the proper pabulum for mind. This food a child requires in large quantities and in great variety. The wide syllabus I have in view is intended in every point to meet some particular demand of the mind. ~A Philosophy of Education p. 256.
And our favorite field guides around here:
(Although, I personally like the older shabby chic cover better.)
Extensive and up to date! Another Borders bargain!
It takes you across our galaxy from stars to planets and moons to meteors all in the order of how many light years away from earth it is. And the pictures are phenomenal. One of my personal faves!
Visual Dictionary…bargain for us at Barnes and Nobles and now you can get it bargain priced as used!
Animal Tracks & Signs…a gift from Grandma!
(The poop quiz is their favorite, of course!)
I think we use this one on almost a daily basis in the spring time! And the diminutive size means it is constantly getting lost as little hands snatch it and carry it around in pockets and purses.
The Bird Songs Anthology…which they’ve looked at so much that we’ve had to glue the sound part on several times and now we just set it in with the stuffed birds basket. Most listened to bird? The ptarmigan. This erupts in giggles for hours! (And the giggling is contagious…just to warn you! Don’t believe me? Go hear for yourself!)
(native to our forests in Nebraska…will update later with a picture since I can’t find one online)
One of the best identifying books ever whether you have a pinecone, a leaf, a piece of bark or a tree seed. Real time pictures of each part of the tree…just flip pages until you see what you’re holding in your hand from that nature walk!
And, of course, we can’t forget the Crinkleroot Guides! I don’t think there is a book alive by him that we don’t love!