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Round the Year with Nature

Nature volume 88, page 476 (08 February 1912) | Download Citation



TO write a satisfactory introduction to natural history for children seems to be a difficult task. After examining some hundreds of attempts and testing them practically, I find that the most successful results are obtained by the following type. This has three characteristics: (1) the number of species described is practically complete for the British Isles—if the more significant foreign species can be included, so much the better; (2) there are pictures of every species described; (3) the descriptions, both pictorial and verbal, are of the diagrammatic order; in other words, rigidly scientific. The more nearly the pictures approach the geometric style, and the language the Euclidean—simplified—the better is the result, both for the child's intelligence and actually for his interest. He wants neither baby-language nor mawkish sentiment, nor teleological moralising; he wants solid fact and plenty of it. Those fine photographs from wild life are rather wasted on him unless they approach diagrammatic completeness. The pictures he gets most out of are those which resemble the best kind of toy, namely, the lay-figure type, which can be taken to pieces. His imagination does the rest. He has also an unvoiced demand for some admixture of the comparative method and of evolutionary theory.

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