We all know that we should be spending time out in nature, no matter what the weather, but the milder weather tends to be when a lot of us start feeling like starting up nature study in the fresh air again. I’ve found 5 excellent free living books for nature study that are public domain for you to use as your springboard for some nature study fun. Living books are great ways to introduce a nature topic in an appealing way, or to extend the nature learning. Charlotte Mason knew what she was doing! And free living books are a wonderful budget-friendly option.
What’s a living book? For those who aren’t familiar with the term, they are books that give the information through a story and let readers feel what it would be like to be there….for example, would you rather read a textbook about the Middle Ages, or would you want to read a story that follows a king or peasant’s life through that time period, seeing it through their eyes? I know which I’d rather learn from!
Grab these stories, load them onto a Kindle or iPad, and spend some time learning natural science in an engaging way. I often read one of these aloud and let my children draw a picture and a few lines about what they understood.
- School of the Woods by William J. Long (as well as the three other Animal Nature Stories books he wrote) are available on The Baldwin Project.
- The Fairyland of Science by Arabella Buckley is free in Kindle format and also on The Baldwin Project. Did you ever wonder about sunbeams? Ice? Bees? This and loads more are in here, in a late-1800s story form.
- Wild Animals I Have Known by Ernest Thompson Seton is also a Kindle freebie. It was his first book and led to a life of writing, many of which are still popular with homeschoolers today. It goes through the lives of 8 animals, including crows and foxes as well as partridges and others. Fun!
- Madam How and Lady Why by Charles Kingsley is also on The Baldwin Project if you don’t own a Kindle. The content is a bit more Christian, typical for the era, but easy for secular readers to just skip parts that you don’t want during a read-aloud, without affecting the storyline. It covers a lot of geology in a really interesting way.
- Johnny Bear and Other Stories from Lives of the Hunted by Ernest Thompson Seton I know this is the same author as #3 above, but if your children want fun, interesting animals and a sense of adventure that isn’t too scary, this is one that should be on your list.
Do you have other free living books about nature that you’d include on this list?
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