School Library Journal
Children's picture book author Ward (Because You Are My Baby) has compiled a slim book of activities designed to introduce to children ages four to nine the joys and mysteries of nature. Arranged by season, each activity is basically a variety of "stop, look, and listen," whether involving the birds, flowers, leaves, or snowflakes. With a few exceptions, the activities themselves are minor and are mostly discussion questions (e.g., Do puddles look like mirrors? Can you draw with mud?). Activities are accompanied by Q&A sidebars called "Help Me Understand" that answer a common question children will ask (e.g., Why does it rain?), and each ends with a checklist for desired outcomes, such as stimulating wonder or stewardship. While the importance of outdoor play is heavily documented, many kids today simply won't have the patience to stargaze with mom, and most parents won't have the time to sit quietly and reflect on what it might be like to be a butterfly. A book with more hands-on activities is likelier to connect. Not a necessary acquisition for libraries.
Julianne J. Smith
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
“Here is the potential for much fun, many meaningful experiences—and a trove of shared stories.”—Richard Louv, from the foreword
“There may be no better way to ensure the well-being of the natural world tomorrow than to introduce children to its many small wonders today. Through a series of accessible activities designed to engage young minds and all five senses, this book reminds us of—even celebrates—the magic to be found right outside our own back doors.”—Todd Christopher, cofounder of National Wildlife Federation’s Green Hour
“I Love Dirt! is a perfect book for parents, teachers, or anyone who cares about children and nature. A nature-lover herself, Jennifer Ward has done an excellent job creating a collection of fun, interactive ways for children everywhere to connect with nature and combat the growing negative impact of sedentary, indoor lifestyles on our youth.”—David Mizejewski, naturalist, National Wildlife Federation, and host of Animal Planet’s Backyard Habitat
“A perfect companion to your nature center and hiking trail excursions!”—Nashville Parent
“A wonderful resource for parents. This book could be the ticket to many wonderful memories for both parent and child.”—Portland Book Review
Read an Excerpt
There is nothing more joyful and inspiring to watch than children discovering the world around them. Whether they’re collecting fallen leaves, rolling down grassy hills, or playing in the waves at the beach—seeing that wide-eyed wonder in our children is such a gift. Regardless of the joys that nature can bring, there has been much disturbing press about the lack of quality time that children today spend outdoors, along with startling research and statistics that point to the detrimental effects this “nature deficit” can cause. And we see it ourselves. Our children rush around with too little time, too many gadgets, and too many distractions, seeking a place to play that is closest to an electrical outlet. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
I Love Dirt! is a call to parents, educators, and caregivers to help recover one of the greatest joys in childhood: spending time outdoors in nature. In five minutes, you can take children outside and turn their world around. This book will help you to do that.
These fifty-two open-ended activities offer a wealth of creative ways to give the outdoors back to your children. Be it cloud racing, stargazing, making a playdate with a puddle, or building a bird feeder out of snow, I Love Dirt! will encourage your kids to explore, discover, giggle, exercise, wonder, and have a blast with nature. Sidebars and prompts are used throughout the book to help you explain basic science and nature concepts to children. All you need to get started is the desire to open the door to a healthy relationship with nature. Soon your little ones will also discover that spending time outdoors offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy relaxation, quiet time, reflection, and insight.
The outdoors is at your fingertips, be it a balcony, a backyard, a porch, or a playground. It is a place just waiting to be enjoyed and discovered. Time in nature is cost-free—as are the activities in this book—but the benefits will stay with your children for a lifetime. Together we can give the young minds of today—of our future—the greatest gift of all: an awakened awareness of the outdoor world.
Thank you for caring enough to pick up this book. It is the first step to opening the door of discovery just waiting for you and your children outside. Now get out there and get dirty!
Chapter excerpts from I Love Dirt! Click on a thumbnail to view these chapters in PDF format.
Chapter 8: Going on a Bird Hunt
Chapter 26: Moon Shadows
Chapter 29: Zoom In