New Books Aims to get Kids Hooked on Nature

Book Review
“The Observologist”, written and illustrated by Giselle Clarkson. Published by Gecko Press, price $39.99. Reviewed by Tony Orman.

The Observologist” is a highly illustrated, fun-filled guide for young budding naturalists and that  has to be great intention in encouraging youngsters to get out in the outdoors instead of being slaves to the mobile phone, internet and television. But the book goes well beyond just inspiring youngsters into the outdoors and observing nature. Adults in general, could do with a dose too.
While the book doesn’t touch on stream life, the trout fishing parent(s) could be a subject area to explore with the youngster(s). Looking at various nymph life that is trout food, identifying the species and working out which habitat (e.g. fast flowing water or slower areas or riffles) each prefers is an area to observe and study. Or how about eels, fascinating creatures, a fish of mystery in terms of going to sea to spawn? Or trout themselves, such as studying a fish killed for the dinner table and analysing the food eaten? How much is aquatic and how much is terrestrial, e.g. cicada, brown beetles, willow grub?
Leaving the watery environment how about did you know toadstools and mushrooms are one and the same? Or that many insects have compound eyes that can see backwards and forwards at the same time? That earthworms can feel pleasure and pain? It’s not just for kids, as adults’ curiosity can be stimulated to accompany their youngster and explore the natural world around them.
This book in encouraging kids to go investigating and observing Nature’s creatures is tailor-made for parent and child to do so together in a sort of scientific research project. Giselle Clarkson has set her text and illustrations out in comic book style making it immediately appealing to young minds. Yet it will  introduce readers, of all ages, to the world about them.
The authors text is written with humour, encouraging the fun element to surface from the young reader.
This book is an antidote to boredom that may invade young minds, an invitation to put aside the digital gadgetry and to go out and observe the natural world with curiosity to the fore.
The book has a sensitive touch, such as imparting advice on carefully handling earthworms or how to help an exhausted honey bee or bumble bee.
The author herself a confessed observologist with “an insatiable curiosity for tiny creatures”  was encouraged by her parents to go “gently poking around under rocks and logs”. 
“Watching insects and looking for other tiny interesting things genuinely is one of my favourite hobbies,’ she says. “I hope my book gets children started or encourages them further, on a lifelong interest in the natural sciences.  When you’re an observologist, you can always marvel at the cleverness of a spider’s work or be delighted by the patterns in a moth’s wing and a bit of everyday joy and wonder is something we can all use.”
“I think being a conservationist starts when you feel a personal connection to a plant or an animal or a place., and observing the quiet magnificence of a spider, a moth or dragonfly is a wonderful way to building that relationship with nature.”
The book should be introduced to every youngster and perhaps could be a standard primary school textbook? 
Highly recommended for every family, kids and even the duo of parent and child to go observing and learning together.

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5 Responses to New Books Aims to get Kids Hooked on Nature

  1. "Biology Teacher" says:

    A good idea. The goal of teaching kids about stream life is really to teach kids how to take care of their local rivers and streams.
    A youngster can be shown how to collect macro-invertebrate samples. This simply meant dragging up some stones from the bottom of the stream, with a muslin net or like below, to see what kind of bugs and larva are there. It shows the kids that streams are a living ecosystem to not be ruined by pollution, or sedimentation or chemicals, e.g. nitrates.

  2. Frank Henry says:

    Kids are losing their touch with nature due to technology. It’s recognised as a big problem so much so that kids spending too much time indoors has become so extreme that the crisis has a name given it by the “head shrinks” – Nature deficit disorder. NDD.

    Encourage kids outside and they’ll learn much.

  3. Rex N. Gibson says:

    Wonderful idea. We need more of it. As an educator I have witnessed a decline in interest and competence in sciences in general over the last few decades. The problem lies in the lack os science competence in primary schools. This is improving and every tool we can give them improves the outlook for the childrens future; a future dominated by distance from the natural world and its inherent relationships.

  4. Justice Will B. Dunn. says:

    The best advice I ever read about raising kids was from the “Slackers’ Guide to Raising Kids”: Tell them to “get outside.” Kick ’em out. They’ll soon figure out some mischief and adventure to fill in the hours. Here endeth the lesson.

  5. margaret adams says:

    Re: Frank Henry’s comment, nature deficit disorder, the book written by Richard Louv in 2008 explains this so called disorder very well. His book “Last child in the woods: saving our children from nature deficit disorder” is based on
    his talks with parents, children, teachers, scientists, religious leaders, child-development researchers, and environmentalists who recognize the threat and offer solutions. Louv discusses an alternative future, one in which parents help their kids experience the natural world more deeply–and find the joy of family connectedness in the process.

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