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!
I’ve read and loved this book, happy to be reminded of it. I was out in nature a lot with my students so the book would have been such a nice one to have had. (I’m retired now.) Thanks for the lovely review!
My students are a little old for this book, but I love the idea. After her research report about nature, a former student of mine, astronomy fan, brought National Geographic Kids to class a few times this past spring so we could discuss wildlife. (There are also Nat Geo Kids Books.) Enticing stuff for young explorers and scientists (even if they don’t know they’re explorers and scientists). Our discussions of the articles led her to explore outside after school, I believe. The happiest, healthiest, brightest kids in the world are given lots of time and autonomy outdoors.
That’s awesome. They absolutely need to experiment and figure it out on their own. A friend has a farm and my kids love to play there and see the animals. The NG Kids books are awesome!