“We were all meant to be naturalists, each in his degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.” (Charlotte Mason, Volume 1, p 62)
The reason behind nature study is simple: to care. To care for not only the marvels found in plant and animal life, but to care for The Creator that made them. Each one of us can be a naturalist, each in his degree. All we need is to step outside and prepare ourselves to see.
I'm new to the PNW and, like you, I am learning about the plants, animals, weather, and geographical features of the majestic Pacific Northwest. Here are a few books I'm reading with my children to help us see, know, and care. We don't read these cover to cover, but rather dip in and out, a chapter at a time.
Look at That Bird by Karen DeWitz-- a charming book that tells about the most common birds in the PNW in an engaging voice.
Foraging with Kids by Adele Nozedar-- a handy guide for the beginning forager with straight-forward recipes.
Curious Kids Nature Guide by Fiona Cohen-- lovely illustrations fill this guide that gives a friendly overview of plants, animals, and insects.
Fylling's Illustrated Guide to Pacific Coast Tide Pools by Marni Fylling-- this guidebook is compact enough to fit in a small pack so you can reference it while you explore.
Exploring the Salish Sea by Don Douglass-- the maps of Puget Sound and the Straight make this guide an A+ find in my opinion.
By the Shore by Nancy Blakey-- a fun guide that is perfect for your guest room or coffee table, it gives ideas of ways to enjoy the features that make the PNW unique through all four seasons.
I recommend the National Audobon Society's Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest as a reference to keep handy at home. However, it is a bit bulky to carry in your pack. When we take walks or trips to enjoy specific plants or animals, we like to either look through or bring Sibley's waterproof guides. Small, flat, and waterproof, the topics range from hummingbirds, tide pools, bees, mushrooms, marine mammals, common trees, wild flowers, fish, and raptors.
What are your favorite resources for nature study that are specific to your area?