I’m on a mission to help you find the best field guides on the market – and I have another treasure to share with you!
The Finders Field Guides published by Nature Study Guild Publishers are unlike any field guide I’ve ever used. Instead of colorful, realistic illustrations or actual photographs of nature examples, there are simple sketches. You also don’t peruse through the books looking for the sketch that matches the object you’re observing. These don’t sound like things to be excited about, do they??
The Finders Field Guides are dichotomous keys. That’s a fancy term that means you are asked a series of questions about the object you’re observing and choose between two or three characteristics. After going through several questions, you end up with a clear identification of your specimen.
I’ll give you an example using the wild strawberry below. Let’s pretend I happen upon this berry on a nature walk and have no idea what it is. I pull out my small, easy to pack Berry Finder guide. After reading through a few pages to understand terms used in the book and plant parts, I start my simple journey to identify the berry.
The first identification page asks me to choose whether the plant grows on:
- an herb (non-woody plant) – go to page 6
- a woody plant with needles or a palm – go to page 18
- a woody plant with broad leaves which is
- a vine or creeping shrub without upright support – go to page 20
- an erect shrub or small tree with many small stems – go to page 28
- a tree with one main stem or trunk – go to page 52
After making my first choice and going to the appropriate page, I’ll be asked to make another choice. Sometimes the specimen can be identified after only making one or two choices. Other times, you must go through several steps before making the identification.
I just love this type of ID! It’s more than just a simple photo match. You and your children have to really observe the specimen – leading to a much more in-depth examination and understanding!
The Finders Field Guides are not only easy to pack, but VERY affordable at $3.95 each. They also come are written for three specific regions of North America – Pacific Coast, East of the Rockies, and Rockies & Great Basin. I have the East of the Rockies set of Finders Field Guides which we’ve enjoyed immensely!