There are many books that talk about women from the late 1800s and early 1900s who were forerunners of the study of nature, I wrote about a few of them once before. One of the newer additions to this collection is Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story, written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Jessica Lanan.
In the late 1800s children were expected to play outside and keep themselves occupied in a way that children today rarely get to do. There were also a lot more wide-open spaces for them to explore. For this reason, Anna Comstock was able to explore nature and discover an early love for it. There were not a lot of other things to do, and her patience and desire to sometimes just sit and watch what was going on around her allowed her to make fascinating discoveries about the world around her. She ignored the standard of the day that kept most women from getting higher education and instead found ways to help others learn about nature.
What is extra special about Anna Comstock, and what young readers will appreciate most, is that she made a concerted effort to get the study of nature into schools and not simply as a classroom subject. She knew that in order to truly have an appreciation of nature, you had to be in nature. Anna Comstock encouraged educators to consider alternate methods of teaching.
Nonfiction picture books such as this one are great for read alouds and classroom libraries not necessarily for the kids to learn about the individual, but to see the power of discovering a passion and keeping to it. There is also power in wanting to share the knowledge that you have gained rather than just keeping it to yourself. Anna Comstock saw a need in the scientific world and a need in the educational world and made a difference.
It is finding gems like this that make me so glad to participate in the nonfiction picture book challenge hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. Check the linkups on Alyson’s site for more!