Homeschoolers who want to enjoy serious nature study often ask me, “Which are the best field guides?”
I do have favorites and I’ll be sure to tell you in just a minute, but first you should know that you have lots of really wonderful options. Most likely, you won’t go wrong if you choose field guides that appeal to you for one reason or another.
If you have younger children, pictures and succinct, kid-friendly information is helpful. Older children who are already interested in nature topics, will appreciate a field guide with several pictures of specimens and thorough explanations. Luckily, you can find field guides for each of these needs and everything in between.
In order to find the field guides that work best for your family, I always suggest that you borrow various types from the library and give them a try. Once you find the ones you love, consider investing in a shelf full so you have them available whenever the opportunity or interest strikes for nature study.
Purchasing field guides is an investment. As I considered putting money into a collection, it was important to me that the books could be used by multiple ages for years to come. It was also important to me that we could view vivid pictures for identification and have plenty of information available to us if we needed it.
The Best Field Guides
For those reasons, plus a few others, I quickly found the National Audubon Society Field Guides to be my overall favorites. Here are a few reason why:
They’re relatively inexpensive, especially when you purchase a single one here or there for back-to-school gifts or stocking stuffers.
They’re durable. This would be very important to me even if I didn’t have three children who want to handle the books after they’ve romped in the creek or dug a critter out of the dirt! The vinyl cover can be wiped off easily and is less likely to get bent while traveling around in nature bags. Plus, the pages are also tightly bound. In fact, I’ve never had one of the Audubon guides lose a page or break at the binding.
They’re small enough to fit into a nature bag, but big enough to have very clear pictures. Both points are incredibly helpful on almost every occasion.
They’re thorough. It’s hard to be thorough in the world of nature because God is so awesome and creative! But, even though the books can’t cover everything, I’ve found them to be quite helpful for identifying most things.
They’re organized. When field guides are organized well, they are much easier to use. It doesn’t take us any time to figure out where to look in the book for a certain colored nature object or a certain size. Pictures are categorized in the front half of the book with a very clear system that makes it so easy that children can locate things without much help. In the back of the book you find detailed descriptions about each nature object such as – size, color, texture, range, season and much more.
They are available for many topics. Once we get used to a certain type of field guide, it’s nice knowing the other books in the series will follow the same general “searching style”. Plus, my collection looks nice lined up on the bookshelf together!
So there you have it. The “why” behind my general recommendation for the best field guides. Of course, we have other guides on our nature study shelf that we happen to love, but we haven’t felt the need to collect everything in their series.
I would love to know which field guides are your favorites?
Do you need nature study curriculum?
Let me help you find a good use for all the wonderful field guides you will be collecting! Whether you want to dig deep into a nature study topic or you simply want grab-n-go ideas for quick nature walks, you can find anything you need in the Our Journey Westward Shop!
Here’s a sampling of the more than 30 curriculum options you can find!
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