Harper and Row
“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that, for most of us, that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.”
This gem of wisdom is hidden in the very center of Rachel Carson’s shortest book, The Sense of Wonder. It is representative of the book, itself a gem lustrous with details of her explorations of the tidal zone and uplands of her summer home in Maine with her nephew Roger. The time that the spent together was recreational, never intended as instruction, yet Roger quickly learned the flowers and seashells in this natural paradise.
The book is a collection of insights about the natural world as classroom, yet it contains no instructional strategies or pedagogical discourse. It is simply a statement of the sense of wonder in a child’s eyes and the importance of keeping that sense of wonder throughout our lives. Miss Carson points out the value of unstructured time in the outdoors with these words, “It is more important to pave the way for a child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.”
The book is handsomely illustrated with photographs by Charles Pratt. Mr. Pratt’s work gives further luster to the writing.
Sadly, Miss Carson’s intent to expand and revise the book was cut short by her untimely death due to cancer in 1964.