The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson

Published: 1956

Genre: nonfiction essay

Length: 95 pages, but 2/3rds of that are photos

Interest: I can’t remember where I heard about the book, but I thought the premise was worth checking out.

Summary: This essay is basically Carson’s personal philosophy on her approach to nature. She emphasizes the importance of getting out in nature and appreciating its unique aspects. You don’t need to know the species of bird you’re looking at to appreciate the colors of its feathers or its beautiful song. You need to approach nature with a sense of wonder. Children naturally have that sense of wonder, but usually lose it over time if it isn’t nurtured.

Final thoughts: Even though it was such a quick read, I found it quite inspiring. For example:

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, and an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength. (p. 43)

Or, “Exploring nature with your child is largely a matter of becoming receptive to what lies all around you” (p. 52). It certainly reinforced my feeling that Outdoor Adventure Group is a useful thing to do, even if there’s only a few families that join us. Just taking my kids out is useful, and it’s a bonus if I can share a sense of wonder about nature with others.

The edition I read contained photos copyrighted 1965, and they looked quite dated. They were all nature photos, but the quality of the images wasn’t near what we expect from images these days. The newest edition has updated photos, so it probably would be even better.

Title comes from: The first quote I provided

Reading challenges fulfilled: none, since this was essentially a short story

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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