A matchless handbook for decades, this classic work has been the natural history bible for countless teachers and others who seek information about their environment. Written originally for those elementary school teachers who knew little of common plants and animals, and even less about the earth beneath their feet and the skies overhead, this book is for the most part as valid and helpful today as it was when first written in 1911-and revised in the spirit of its authors by a group of naturalists in 1939. After all, dandelions, toads, robins, and constellations have changed little since then! And modern society's concern with the quality of life and the impact of people on soil, water, and wildlife makes this book even more relevant. Nature-study, as used in this handbook, encompasses all living things except humans, as well as all nonliving things such as rocks and minerals, the heavens, and weather. Of the living things described, most are common in the northeastern states, and many, such as the dandelion, milkweed, and mullein, and the house mouse, muskrat, and red fox, are so widespread that people living outside the United States will recognize them easily. Anna Botsford Comstock very appropriately took the view that we should know first and best the things closest to us. Only then, when we have an intimate knowledge of our neighbors, should we, journey farther afield to learn about more distant things. Teachers and children will find the material in this book invaluable in that regard. Details of the most common, but in some ways the most interesting, things are brought out, first by careful, nontechnical descriptions of the things themselves and later by thoughtful questions and study units. Because the most common things are treated in greatest detail, materials for study are easy to find. Whether the reader lives in the inner city or in the rural outback, the handbook is a treasure trove of information.
Most helpful customer reviews
183 of 184 people found the following review helpful.
By A Customer
This is a wonderful book for studying ANY aspect of nature (except ocean life.) Thoroughly discusses all details of any living thing that you could dream of...want to know where a cricket's ears are located? How to tell if you have a male/female? What should you feed your cricket? Ever wondered why a lightning bug "lights up"? How can you tell if you have a male or female? Covers birds, fish, reptiles, wild animals, farm animals, pets, trees, flowers, rocks, weather, stars, etc, ETC!!! Many labled diagrams. A GREAT book, and written to fit in wonderfully with a Charlotte Mason philosophy. Geared towards elementary grades and complete with lessons, questions, projects, etc. Over 800 pages of easily understood information. As the original was published in 1911, be aware that the photos are not in color, nor as clear as modern nature guides, but the book MORE than makes up for this in so many ways! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
70 of 72 people found the following review helpful.
Nurture Your Love of Nature
By Mary Esterhammer-Fic
I have a fairly decent natural science home library, and this book is probably the jewel in the crown. It's packed with information, and even though some data has been updated by recent discoveries (the book was first issued nearly a century ago) much of it is still relevent.
The author has a contagious awe for the world around us, from caddis fly larvae to little brown bats (which she recommends keeping for a while in order to observe closely). She wrote this when our society was less urbanized and more hands-on, so a lot of her audience (teachers and their young students) had only to march out into a nearby field to collect specimens. Today, we're more used to sanitized, distilled, controllable nature--and nothing that can't be washed away with antibacterial soap--that we forget how compelling these little anthill or treetop dramas are.
Comstock brings us into that wild world, and we don't have to go far to find it, after all. Her anecdotes about her personal experiences and her study questions that end each section keep this book from becoming just another field guide. Even if you don't have young kids with whom to share these adventures, it's great to have this resource at hand.
And if you do have young kids, it's fun to go mucking around in a ditch right after a storm, looking for tadpoles. Don't be obsessive about diseases (we all eat a pound of dirt before we die...or so they say) and don't forget to bring this book.
95 of 101 people found the following review helpful.
One Star for the Kindle Edition
By Anon in Texas
My boys love this book, so I decided to try to get it for my Kindle because the larger font size makes it much easier for me to read. So I downloaded a sample, and found that they didn't even bother with a linked TOC in this HUGE book, the formatting is atrocious, and the pictures weren't included.
Keep in mind that this book is in the public domain. Ambleside Online provides links to download the book for free, and an internet search would surely provide the same. The ONLY reason to purchase this book rather than just downloading it would be to have a linked TOC, proper formatting, and the pictures.
Basically, Amazon took two minutes worth of time to download the free online text, then decided to sell it for a ridiculous price (considering what it lacks). Save your money and just download the text for free.