Earlier in the week, as we sang the praises of The Field Guide to Fields, we thought more about the power of nearby landscapes, especially in the life of a child. All of this reminded us of one of the Land Library’s favorite quotes:
“…the places children like best for play are the secret places where no one else goes….the peaks of a child’s experience are not visits to a cinema, or even family outings to the sea, but occasions when he escapes into places that are disused and overgrown and silent. To a child there is more joy in a rubbish heap than a flowery rockery, in a fallen tree than a piece of statuary, in a muddy track than a gravel path.” — Iona & Peter Opie
Very much in keeping with the Opie quote are two books from our Waterton Canyon Kids Library: In Defense of Childhood: Protecting Kids’ Inner Wildness by Chris Mercogliano, and David Sobel’s classic book Children’s Special Places: Exploring the Role of Forts, Dens, and Bush Houses in Middle Childhood. May every child have a bush house in their life!
When the Opies write about a secret place disused and silent, they definitely could be describing the imaginary town that’s the subject of Alice McLerran & Barbara Cooney’s picture book Roxaboxen (pictured above). To the adult eye, Roxaboxen was a rubble strewn hilltop, but to a child this was a magic place where imagination was let out the door. They line the “streets” with white stones and broken glass, and use pebbles for their currency. This is a classic book that captures a children’s innate ability to infuse their environment with meaning, fun, and excitement.
and here’s three more titles that will keep your sense of wonder alive, no matter how old you are:
I Love Dirt! 52 Activities to Help You & Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature by Jennifer Ward, Natural History of Vacant Lots by Matthew Vessel & Herbert Wong, and A Natural Sense of Wonder: Connecting Kids with Nature through the Seasons by Rick Van Noy