We took advantage of yesterday’s unseasonably warm weather to go to Concord and visit Walden Pond. The trip was actually suggested by my son who is studying Henry David Thoreau in his English class. The last time we were at Walden Pond, my son was a toddler and did not care about Thoreau’s impact on generations of people seeking the simple life. At two, he had achieved perfect simplicity – food, sleep and play. But now that he’s actually reading about the naturalist and philosopher, we decided to visit the site of the famous cabin in the woods.
It was a lovely day, but thanks to D.B. Johnson’s picture books, I kept picturing Thoreau as a cubist-style bear wearing a sun hat. Johnson’s five books are a wonderful way to introduce children to Thoreau’s ideas and to nurture a respect for nature. Each story captures the spirit of Thoreau’s belief -and joy – at being immersed in the natural world. I’ve read Johnson’s books to first through third grade students many times with great success. They fit in especially well with a discussion about fundamental needs…when two of Thoreau’s friends pronounce his cabin “too small.” Thoreau replies that “it’s bigger than it looks.”
Yesterday’s visit reminded me just how small the cabin was. But for just a moment, looking out at the pond, I thought maybe it would be enough – if the weather was good!
The titles of Johnson’s books are:
Henry Hikes to Fitchburg
Henry Builds a Cabin
Henry Climbs a Mountain