At camp, we love to read. As part of the American Camp Association’s Explore 30 reading program, Sanborn is building an outstanding library for our campers at both High Trails and Big Spring to encourage both independent reading and the long-held tradition of reading aloud in cabins, tents, and by the campfire.
We know reading inspires the imagination, enhances a sense of wonder, builds community, teaches life-skills, and limits summer-learning loss–much like the camp experience as a whole. Books can take you to places you have never been, introduce you to creatures and people you have never met, and create environments and situations you have never imagined. And, after reading a book, the story becomes part of you.
Thus it was a little discouraging as parents, educators, and advocates of the Children in Nature movement when we read the USA Today piece last week which detailed the loss of nature environments and themes in current children’s picture books. Researchers examined Caldecott Medal award winners and honorees from 1938 to 2008 and determined that, over the course of 80 years, children’s books are moving away from nature environments, themes and characters. According to the study:
•Early in the study period, built environments were the primary environments in about 35% of images. By the end of the study, they were primary environments about 55% of the time.
•Early in the study, natural environments were the primary environments about 40% of the time; by the end, the figure was roughly 25%.
As Richard Louv says this study demonstrates “a physical disassociation with the natural world.” He recognizes that “Nature experience isn’t a panacea, but it does help children and the rest of us on many levels of health and cognition. I believe that as parents learn more about the disconnect, they’ll want to seek more of that experience for their children, including the joy and wonder that nature has traditionally contributed to children’s literature.”
So to help you connect your kids to the outdoors through children’s literature, we have a Pinterest Board celebrating some of our favorites….and if you don’t see your favorite nature-based children’s book on the list–let us know and we will add it for you!
What are some of your favorite nature-inspired children’s books?