For 10 years, book lovers with an interest in ecology have enjoyed lively discourse at a unique book club held at Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods. The 11th season starts this fall.
Longtime participant Dick Ettlinger of Highland Park said the leader Ben Goluboff guides the group in a thought-provoking way that stimulates fascinating discussions. Goluboff is a professor of English at Lake Forest College.
“He asks questions and invites responses,” Ettlinger said. “He gets the discussion going. He doesn’t want to make a lecture out of it.”
Goluboff said that’s his intent: To invite comments and encourage readers to delve into issues and themselves.
“I really try to make it a dialogue, like a good literature class,” he said.
One of Goluboff’s selections this season is Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition by Robert Pogue Harrison.
“This is a powerful book, a delightful, challenging wonderful book, “Goluboff said. Participants will likely discuss whether the author is truly talking about gardens or something else, he said.
Over the years, Goluboff has been fascinated and excited about what participants say and observe about themselves and the environment.
“One book, The Creation by E.O. Wilson, elicited a wide-ranging discussion,” he said. “One participant talked about how Wilson’s writing caused her to re-examine her faith,” he said.
“I thought that was extraordinary. It makes people around the table recognize the power of the writer. It’s been one of the many experiences in my life that reminds me how literature can make a big difference in peoples’ lives.”
Brushwood Center Executive Director Sophie Twichell said, “We are thrilled Ryerson Reads has thrived for 10 years. This is a truly wonderful way to discuss literature in a beautiful setting with a thoughtful, knowledgeable and well-read leader.”
Copies of the books chosen for the 2014/15 season of Ryerson Reads will be set aside and available at the Deerfield Public Library, 920 Waukegan Road as well as the Vernon Area Public Library, 300 Olde Half Day Road, Lincolnshire. Books are also available for purchase at the Lake Forest Book Store. Limited copies are on hand at Brushwood Center. The fee is $15 per session, $10 for Brushwood Center members. The entire series is $45 or $30 for members. Discussions are held from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. on the dates below.
Sept. 10, 2014: When the Killing’s Done by T.C. Boyle
Nov. 12, 2014: The Paradise of Bombs by Scott Russell Sanders
Jan. 14, 2015: The Last Animal by Abby Geni
Mar. 11, 2015: Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition by Robert Pogue Harrison
On the heels of the release of his highly anticipated second edition of The Sibley Guide to Birds, David Sibley will speak and sign books from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m., April 9 at Ryerson Woods. The book talk will take place in the Welcome Center, 21950 Riverwoods Road, Riverwoods, IL. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required.
Sibley, preeminent birder, author and illustrator, will talk about his work to expand and update his bird guide published in 2000. The second edition, just released, offers new paintings, new and rare species and copious updated information sure to astound bird lovers of all levels. The second edition also includes nearly 7,000 paintings, and all illustrations reproduced 15 to 20 percent larger for better detail.
Sibley will talk about his research out in the field and in museums to gather information he said has made his second edition more accurate and more useful to birders. The cover features the Magnolia Warbler, a bird Sibley recalls seeing first when his father, ornithologist Fred Sibley, banded it near the Point Reyes Bird Observatory in California. It’s one of many birds that will be migrating through the Chicago and suburban area in May.
Sibley’s book has been called “the finest guide to North American birds.” He is a contributing editor to BirdWatching Magazine and author and illustrator of many other books about birds. He last visited Ryerson Woods as keynote speaker of the 2003 Smith Nature Symposium. He spoke to a sold-out crowd.
Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods nurtures art, nature and discovery. One of our favorite ways to do this is through great books. As the holiday season approaches, many of us are seeking quality gifts for children. In this post, our good friend and book expert, Sue Boucher, recommends children’s books that cultivate a love of nature and of learning.
Many years ago, before I had children, I was a Girl Scout leader for girls in middle school. Our troop met a wizened older woman who knew every spring wild flower and became so excited about seeing a Jack-in-the-Pulpit for the first time that year. Many years later I am that woman (not wizened I hope). I am thrilled to find the Jack-in-the-Pulpit in the same place every year in the forest preserve near my home.
During that time I was introduced to the book The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson, a lovely book about Rachel sharing her love of nature with her young nephew, Roger. This book really made me think about the importance of sharing my love of nature with children and has served as a guide for me.
As Rachel Carson says it’s not really about identifying everything.
“It is possible to compile extensive lists of creatures seen and identified without ever once having caught a breath-taking glimpse of the wonder of life.”
She goes on to say:
If a child asked me a question that suggested even a faint awareness of the mystery behind the arrival of a migrant sandpiper on the beach of an August morning, I would be far more pleased than by the mere fact that he knew it was a sandpiper and not a plover.
Here is a picture of my old copy that was published by Harper and Row in 1956.
The quote on the front says:
Words and pictures to help you keep alive your child’s inborn sense of wonder, and renew your own delight in the mysteries of earth, sea and sky.
While that version is out of print there is a beautiful newly illustrated edition.
Here are some new picture books about nature for children:
Tap the Magic Tree
By Christie Mathison
An innovative, refreshing debut picture book about the changing seasons and the magic and true interactivity of turning a page. Matheson invites the reader to tap, rub, touch, and wiggle illustrations to make an apple tree bloom, produce fruit, and lose its leaves.
Ellie’s Log: Exploring the Forest Where the Great Tree Fell
By Judith Li, illustrated by M.L. Hering
Oregon State University Press $16.95
With help from her parents, a forest manager and a wildlife biologist, and in the company of new friend Ricky, eleven-year-old Ellie Homesly fills a field notebook with sketches and notes about nature in the woods near her home. Includes suggestions on how to keep a field notebook.
Once Upon a Northern Night
By Jean Penziwol, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
In this exquisite lullaby, a parent paints a picture of a northern winter night for their sleeping child, describing the beauty of a snowfall, the wild animals that appear in the garden, the twinkling stars, the gentle rhythm of the northern lights and the etchings of frost on the window pane.
By Virginia Brimhall Snow
Gibbs Smith $16.99
Beautifully illustrated and with rhyming narrative, the storybook teaches children to identify 24 different kinds of leaves by their shapes and fall colors. From maple to mulberry and peach to pecan, kids will have fun learning about common and fascinating trees and their leaves. And at the end of the day, they learn how to press the gathered leaves in a book and make a leaf rubbing.
Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever
By H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurray
Beach Lane $16.99
Unearth the true story of green-thumbed pioneer and activist Kate Sessions, who helped San Diego grow from a dry desert town into a lush, leafy city known for its gorgeous parks and gardens.
And some older ones that I love:
Over and Under the Snow
By Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
A little girl, out cross-country skiing with her father, thinks about the various ways familiar animals survive the harsh winter weather.
In the Snow: Who’s Been Here?
By Lindsay Barrett George
The woods are cold and desolate as Cammy and William hike through the snow, yet signs of animal life are everywhere. Help them find the clues and join in guessing, “Who’s been here?”
In the Woods: Who’s Been Here?
By Lindsay Barrett George
A boy and girl in the autumn woods find an empty nest, a cocoon, gnawed bark, and other signs of unseen animals and their activities.
And for older children, books that involve nature:
By Susan Cooper
A story of adventure and friendship between a young Native American and a colonial New England settler. The intertwining stories of Little Hawk and John Wakely offer an eye-opening look at the history of the nation.
By Gary Paulsen, illustrated by Drew Willis
Simon and Schuster $17.99
I love this anniversary edition of the classic outdoor survival story, great illustrations and additional information.
Hoot, Chomp, Scat and Flush, ecological thrillers
By Carl Hiassen
Yearling $8.99 each
Laugh out loud adventure stories about kids trying to set right the wrongs done to the planet by adults as well as touching scenes of young people enjoying nature.
Sue Boucher has enjoyed the out-of-doors her whole life. An avid hiker, biker and cross country skier, she has enjoyed the Lake County Forest Preserves for all the years she lived in Illinois. She owned the Lake Forest Book Store for eighteen years and has enjoyed sharing books about nature and the out-of-doors with parents and children. She has recently sold the book store and moved to Northern Michigan right in the middle of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore where she is busy enjoying her favorite pastimes and helping out in another wonderful independent book store.