365 Nature – Day 317

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Learn more about the project and see all the 365 Nature posts.


On our day off yesterday, we made the trip to Goodwill, one of my favorite places to visit when I get a chance. A big reason for this is their shelves of children’s books, which is extensive. As a bonus, most of the books are only .79 each and they have a lot of older books which are out of print. My daughter and I browsed through and I started to realize how much more important it will be to foster her achievements in science. The world was already tough for females in STEM, and although great strides have been made, I worry they may be set back dramatically in the next few years. Not just for women, but science as a whole.

It was with this thought that I picked up books and tossed them into our cart. No Disney Princesses, but plenty of Magic School Bus and other nature and science books. Among the books we picked up was What’s Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew, a book that goes into the microscopic building blocks of everything in our world. We read about atoms and nucleus and quarks and electrons. When we read about bacteria, she pointed to one of the illustrations and determinedly said that was a bad bacteria and was the one that made her friend sick at school.

We also picked up two more Magic School Bus, a popular book series in our house and I’m lucky to always find a couple at Goodwill. On this visit we found Inside a Hurricane and In the Rain Forest. We’ve read several others and I love the science involved in each story as they dive to the sea bottom, or shrink and travel through the human body. My daughter learns a lot from these books and frequently looks through them herself. We also love teacher Ms. Frizzle and her always appropriate outfit.

Cactus Cafe: A Story of the Sonoran Desert was another book we found which features the great saguaro cacti and the life they support, from bats to owls and woodrats.

The Science Book for Girls and Other Intelligent Beings is a bit advanced for my preschool aged daughter, but it’s full of basic everyday science and experiments. The second chapter describes the various sciences, such as being a geologist, chemist, astronomer and so on and discusses famous female scientists. The final chapter is full of brain exercises and puzzles to build your brain.

Although we have several field guides to Pacific Northwest beaches, Into the Field Guide: A Walk on the Beach is written for kids and a bit more simple for them to understand. It covers the geologic makeup of sand through to animals and plants.

Finally, I found a book we’d first checked out from the library, Insects are My Life. It’s about a little girl who loves insects, but nobody in her family understands or supports her interest. At school she gets teased, but she always stands up for herself. At the end she meets another girl who is just as passionate about reptiles.

These books will join the others on our shelves at home and will be read and reread many times. I believe it’s important to have many books in our house for our daughter to explore and learn from. And we will continue reading them to her as frequently as she likes.

Kelly Brenner
Follow me

Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist and writer based in Seattle. She founded and writes The Metropolitan Field Guide, a blog for ideas, thoughts and resources for the design of urban wildlife habitat and has contributed articles to a variety of other websites and publications.

Kelly has a certificate from the University of Washington in non-fiction writing. She continually takes classes and attends talks on various natural history topics. In 2009 she earned a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon.

She's also an avid photographer focusing on the natural world.
Kelly Brenner
Follow me

Commenting area

  1. My son and I are fans of Magic School Bus. I didn’t watch it in middle school. I wonder why. I was interested in science even then. Thanks for mentioning the future of science and women in STEM giving recent events.

  2. Love this, Kelly. Always look over the books at thrift stores for books for my kids.

    We are proud owners of the complete series of Magic School Bus on DVD (won it through a Portland family magazine Facebook contest). Holding on to the set for when Afton (now 4) is a bit older. 🙂

    • I absolutely love thrift store books and finding the treasures. Especially older, out-of-print books.

      We’ve watched a couple Magic School Bus episodes and our daughter really loves them. Lucky win for you!

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>