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Kenneth Ellman Reviews Anna Botsford Comstock Handbook Nature Study

Kenneth Ellman Reviews Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock,, Newton, New Jersey 07860. October 7, 2013.
If you are going camping or traveling in the woods and forest or just want someone to help you and your children with Nature Study, this is the book. It will help you to understand what is around you in such an attractive and comfortable way unequaled by most other such publications. I have not yet come across any other book quite like this. Unfortunately like many good things the author is long dead having been born in 1854 (yes, before the Civil War) and died in 1930 during the depression.

Anna Comstock was a Professor of Nature Study in Cornell University who possessed three wonderful things; a deep love of nature, a deep caring to teach children and adults and an academic ability to compile this extraordinary book. She was a woman anyone would have been fortunate to know. I think what she left behind with this work is timeless. Her gift to us is 887 pages in the 1986 Cornell Paperback edition which does not have her valuable suggested readings and bibliography. Prof. Vern Rockcastle writes in the Foreword that it was intentionally left out due to their belief the reader would have difficulty obtaining access to such references. How nice of them to strip a valuable part of the book for no legitimate reason. Other than that lapse this book still has all the wonder and teaching material that it always possessed.

Prof. Comstock can speak for herself as the following quote explains a little of the thinking of this wonderful Professor: “For many years the requests have been frequent from parents who have wished to give their children nature interests during vacations in the country. They have been borne in mind in planning this volume; the lessons are especially fitted for field work, even though schoolroom methods are also suggested.” She then goes on to state regarding her 1000 page work:”However it does not contain more than any intelligent country child of twelve should know of his environment…although it might take him half his life-time to learn so much if he should not begin before the age of twenty”. Her aspirations for her students were high and she gave them the way to obtain that knowledge.

This book covers a full panoply of nature with teaching on plants, animals both land, air and water, earth science, weather, soil, rocks and minerals, magnets, astronomy and more. It does so in a way that leaves you feeling it was there all the time for the taking and you need only want to open your eyes to partake of it lying all about you. The photographs while black and white are good and provide what you need. The lesson plans are laid out with some question and teaching guides.

The only sad part is that you will never be able to speak to or meet Prof. Anna Comstock, but you can know her a little bit through this work and learn an appreciation of Nature as she told its story.

If you get an older edition you will even have the suggested readings and bibliography to give you more fun hunting for such old references and supplementary reading, where ever they may be found. Let the adventure start!! Let me know how you make out with this book! Kenneth Ellman,, Box 18, Newton, N.J. 07860