Different kinds of parents are going to want different sorts of books for their kids. While I would never say that all pagans are alike — we are a very diverse group! — I have noticed that the pagan parents I know generally want to instill similar sorts of values in their children: compassion and respect for other beings (human, animal, and plant!), knowledge of the natural world and its cycles (my use of “nature” here includes our solar system and the universe), knowledge of mythology, folk lore, and fairy tales, a desire to learn, and a healthy imagination. I know that as a future parent of the pagan persuasion these are things that are important to me — I want my kids to feel the same wonder for natural cycles, and to have the same compassion for other beings that I try to cultivate in my own life.
While, of course, books are not the only route towards cultivating these values — nor should they be! — they are an important one, in my opinion.
There are so many Barefoot Books that can help with these areas, so I’ve decided to start a series here on the blog. I’m calling it Books for Pagan Parents and each post will feature the top books in one specific category.
The category for the inaugural post is — you guessed it — Books about Nature.
First on the list is I Took the Moon for a Walk, which you might remember from my first Book of the Week post. This book presents the moon as a familiar and friendly face, which is a great introduction for pagans who want their kids to learn about the moon either as its own entity or as symbol or home to gods or goddesses. The book also talks about moon cycles, which is really important to a lot of pagans I know, and nocturnal animals. I gave this book to a friend and her daughter for the daughter’s first birthday, and they LOVED it for just these reasons. My friend’s daughter is only one, but she was looking through the book and pointing out the moon on each page. It was a delight to watch.
Listen, Listen uses onomatopoeia to take you through the seasons. Each season has different sounds associated with it. This is a perfect book to read aloud, as it gives a really sensory experience of the year. Bonus: it doesn’t specify months for each season, so you could easily adapt this for the Southern Hemisphere.
Skip Through the Seasons takes kids through each season and month (specific to the Northern Hemisphere) and helps teach them what happens in each season and where in the year the season will generally fall. This book was a big hit with one of my mom’s students, who was having trouble remembering the months of the year. Now they’re a star.
Star Seeker is a journey through the solar system, accompanied by beautiful illustrations and an intro to mythology (bonus — this book gets to be a top book for both nature AND mythology!), talking about the origins for the names of the planets. At the end of the book there is information on the solar system and astronomy. You might question its inclusion on this list, but remember — the universe and space are a part of nature! Just a part we can’t run around in without protective gear.
Grandpa’s Garden takes you through a year of gardening with grandpa, and teaches you about soil, bugs, climate, planting, and much more. After I finished this book I felt like I could actually succeed in gardening, instead of continuing on the family tradition of a black thumb. The back of the book has information on what to plant and when, what plants go well together, and how to lay out your garden most effectively.
Clare Beaton’s Garden Rhymes is a collection of traditional rhymes that are about the garden and nature. Like the other books in the Clare Beaton series, it’s a good collection of those rhymes we vaguely recall from our childhoods but can’t quite remember, and the focus on nature earns it a spot on this list.
The Gift. This is a book about the natural life cycle of humans. Something people forget is that humanity is a part of nature, so any discussion of nature must, by definition, include us. The Gift is a gentle, loving, and safe introduction to the concept of birth, life, death, and regeneration, especially as it pertains to humans.
The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales. This is a collection of stories from cultures all over the world, all about the earth. It includes stories from indigenous cultures, and every story is accompanied by a craft that kids can do to connect more with the earth.
A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea. Learn about the marine food chain with this fun sing along! This adaptation of the classic song teaches kids who eats whom in the ocean, and the back of the book is full of facts about the sea. Like all Barefoot sing-a-longs, the book comes with an enhanced CD.
Kids’ Garden. Okay, so this one isn’t technically a book, but I still felt it needed to be included. Kids’ Garden, much like Yoga Pretzels, is a collection of cards in a box. On each card is an activity kids can do that’s related to gardening: exploring the garden, planting and growing, plant fun, learning about animals, or creating garden art. There are 40 activities in the box for both indoors and outdoors.
(Unfortunately, three of these things are not currently available: Star Seeker and The Gift are out of stock, and Kids’ Garden went out of print recently and hasn’t been pulled back in yet. However, it’s very popular, so we expect it to be back in print soon. As soon as these items are available again, I’ll update this post with links to them.)
See you tomorrow with the Book of the Week!