We are so lucky in 2020 since there are many, many fantastic nature books for children. A google search “nature books for children” produces several large lists of excellent books. However, in this time of quarantine, and with the cancellation of many summer group events, I wanted to share two books we were going to use in our Garden Creativity Camp this year. These books, the additional resources, and activity ideas may help you fill a summer afternoon, or more.
It’s difficult to imagine a time when we did not learn about the life cycle of a butterfly in our early years of school as we do now. Summer Birds takes us to just that time with beautiful illustrations and a simple tale. This book is directed at children from kindergarten to third grade, and you can view a reading of it here. Older children (10-12 years old) will be fascinated by the multi-award-winning book The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science. Both of these tell the story of Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717).
In the Middle Ages people believed butterflies were evil creatures that emerged from the mud in summer. They did not realize the connection between caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly. By careful observation, and documentation of those observations, Maria Merian discovered metamorphosis in butterflies, and then frogs. This young girl overturned an idea that had lasted hundreds of years as received wisdom. Maria went on to be an accomplished artist, scientist, and leading entomologist of her time.
We were going to use these books in our Garden Creativity Camp this summer to encourage the participants to observe, draw and think about nature. In the process, I wanted them to realize people of all kinds can make scientific discoveries and can challenge received wisdom with their careful research. Oh, and make lots of beautiful drawings and crafts too.
About Maria Sibylla Merian:
Butterfly craft ideas:
Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian, by Margarita Engle (Author), Julie Paschkis (Illustrator)
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First edition (April 27, 2010)
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science, by Joyce Sidman (Author)
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (February 20, 2018)