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Gifts for the Budding Naturalist

As the year draws to a close, it's a great time to reflect on Rachel Carson's Silent Spring once more. 2012 marks the books 50th anniversary. The book encouraged many young naturalists and, with the holidays approaching, we've come up with two gifts to further one's love of nature: a pair of binoculars and a bird guide.

These gift ideas were inspired by Rachel Carson's book, The Sense of Wonder. The title of the work comes from its most quoted sentence:

"If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder. . .he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in."

In regards to discovery, a decent pair of binoculars has launched many environmentally minded youngsters. Binoculars are great for the young observer – they bring nature intimately closer.


For the bird guide, the Stokes "Beginner's Guide to Birds" is a great choice, especially if it’s accompanied by a birdfeeder. Children get really excited about birds. And why wouldn't they? They’re lively, colorful, and easy to see year-round. There are lots of field guides for lots of subjects that help the naming process and learning the names of birds is often the first step in connecting with the natural world.

No matter what guide or pair of binoculars you buy, the important thing is that you use them. Rachel Carson urged that adult and child go forth as fellow explorers equally open to a "sense of wonder". In her words,

". . .the sharing is based on having fun together rather than on teaching."

In my words: we're never too old to chase milkweed seeds on the wind.

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