May 14, 2018

Best Free Nature Lore Books


As a child, I had the privilege of spending many days outside in a large rural yard with some woods out back. I was a longtime girl scout and experienced many meaningful (if not overly frequent) camping experiences as a scout and with family.

When I observed my own children in nature and when I read what Charlotte Mason expected of her students in terms of nature-knowledge, I realized that there is a lot more richness to mine from the natural world than I ever imagined. I've come to agree with Wordsworth's sentiments about nature:
She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless—
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness. 
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can. 
 --from The Tables Turned
Embarking on a deeper knowledge of nature can seem overwhelming at first. But I've learned that by reading and noticing and recording, you can slowly but surely grow your own knowledge and appreciation of nature. And your children's knowledge will surely blossom as well.

In our family, we read nature lore at morning time, include nature lore as part of twice-weekly natural history lessons, select and learn about special plants and animals each term, record daily observations in our nature notebooks, paint natural objects, keep a calendar of firsts, and, of course, spend time in nature regularly.

How to Identify Living Nature Books


Fortunately, it is easy to find excellent nature lore books.  Sabbath Mood Homeschool has a wonderful list of nature lore books and Ambleside Online's Curriculum also includes many good titles for natural history.

And since many of these titles are in the public domain, they are available as free ebooks to read online or even print, potentially saving a lot of money without sacrificing any quality in content.

Even if you use physical books for all lessons, consider adding read alouds from free ebooks. The children won't need to engage with an ebook but will still get all the rich wonderful knowledge through you.

I've curated the following list of free illustrated nature lore ebooks. Many of the titles I learned about through the Sabbath Mood Homeschool or Ambleside Online book lists, but all the links are my own.

Note:
I prefer to link to Google Book versions when available. Once added to "Your Library" you can read them via the free Google Play Books app or on a computer or even print PDFs of the text.

If there is no Google Book version available, I link to the Internet Archive. Some of these may only be "checked out" and read online. We typically read these titles using a browser on a tablet or laptop. They don't always make for the best reading experience but still can be a great way to add a short book to morning time or to preview a book to decide if it is worth purchasing or requesting through your public library's interlibrary loan program.

Best Free Nature Lore Books


Margaret Waring Buck
All of the following titles can be borrowed online for 14 days from the Internet Archive.

Arabella Burton Buckley
All can be read online or downloaded as free PDFs from Google Books or Internet Archive.

Glenn Orlando Blough
All of the following titles can be borrowed online for 14 days from the Internet Archive.

Barbara Brenner
All of the following titles can be borrowed online for 14 days from the Internet Archive.

Wilfrid Bronson
This title can be read online or downloaded as a free PDF.
All of the following titles can be borrowed online for 14 days from the Internet Archive.

John Burroughs
All can be read online or downloaded as free PDFs from Google Books.

Olive L. Earle
All of the following titles can be borrowed online for 14 days from the Internet Archive.

Jean Henri Fabre
All can be read online or downloaded as free PDFs from Google Books or Internet Archive.

Alice E. Goudy
All of the following titles can be borrowed online for 14 days from the Internet Archive.

Ernest Ingersoll
All can be read online or downloaded as free PDFs from Google Books.

William J. Long
All can be read online or downloaded as free PDFs from Google Books.

Robert M. Mclung 
All of the following titles can be borrowed online for 14 days from the Internet Archive.

Margaret Warner Morley
All can be read online or downloaded as free PDFs from Google Books.

Clara Dillingham Pierson
All can be read online or downloaded as free PDFs from Google Books.

Charles L. Ripper
All of the following titles can be borrowed online for 14 days from the Internet Archive.

Millicent E. Selsam
All of the following titles can be borrowed online for 14 days from the Internet Archive.

Dallas Lore Sharp
All can be read online or downloaded as free PDFs from Google Books.

Edwin Way Teale
The first two titles can be read online or downloaded as free PDFs from Google Books.
All of the following titles can be borrowed online for 14 days from the Internet Archive. 

By others:
All can be read online or downloaded as free PDFs from Google Books.

If you like free ebooks, check out my other lists of free books.


Know of any other gems that belong on this list? Let me know in the comments.

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