Welcome to my Build Your Own Homeschool Library series where I'm sharing with my readers some of my favorite books from my homeschool shelf. Please note that all the posts in this series contain my own opinions, and I have not been compensated by any publishing company for any of the content.
We're all familiar with nature guides, so I don't think I need to go into details about what information they include. But I think these guide are often overlooked when building a homeschool library. Nature guides generally aren't a formal part of a science curriculum, so they don't always make your curriculum list. But to have a well-rounded library, you should have several (maybe even dozens?) of these books on your shelf.
Watch for field guides at used books stores, garage sales, and thrift shops, and snatch them up if they're in good condition and have good illustrations or photographs. (Nature guides also make great gifts for nature-loving children, so tell the grandparents!)
My favorite guides are the Audubon Field Guides because of their high-quality photographs and their way of organizing the information. It's very easy to identify animals and minerals with their guides because the photographic plates are usually organized by shape and color. The Audubon Guides are also specialized by region, so it's easy to find guides that include your local wildlife. But that's not to say that other guides aren't good; I just think the Audubon Guides set the standard very high.
How to use the books
My children love flipping through these books, looking at the pictures and reading the text sporadically. But I've also used them officially as a part of our science study, reading aloud the explanatory material at the beginning of the guides and then perusing the the illustrations together.
Some of the best uses for these nature guides are for identification, when you see a particular animal, tree, or mineral, and you want to identify it (as we did with an unidentified nest we were given). Take advantage of times like these, grab the appropriate guide on your shelf, and spend some time perusing its pages to discover the identify of the unknown subject.
View a subject-by-subject list of all the posts in the Build Your Own Homeschool Library series here.