Connecting to the Great Outdoors

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Teaching children about the natural world should be seen as one of the most important events in their lives.”  ~Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth

If you are a baby boomer, no doubt you learned to read from the Dick and Jane series. For forty years (1930s – 1970s) these books were used by elementary school teachers around the world to teach children the art of reading.

dick and jane jumping ropeDid you ever notice how the Dick and Jane series had so many pictures of children engaged in outdoors activities? The books typically featured images of kids walking the dog, playing hopscotch on the sidewalk, planting flowers, pulling wagons, playing ball, lying in a hammock under the shade tree day-dreaming, and flying kites outdoors.

Miss Zerna Sharp, known as the “Mother of Dick and Jane” had great insight in the creation of the series because she felt that students would enjoy learning to read and find it much easier if they identified with the children shown in the illustrations. If she were alive today to redo the series to make the stories more relatable for this generation of children, she’d probably be horrified to realize what would the illustrations would look like. Rather than publishing pictures of fit children playing outdoors, I suppose we’d see images of  children engaged in all things digital and figure drawings of children with physiques that look very different than those of the children from the 1930s – 1970s. dick and jane use the force

We are living in a very visual age. With the power of digital marketing perhaps we need to stir children’s interests and entice them into wanting to experience the great adventure of life called the “great outdoors.” Personally, I think our whole society would benefit by becoming more aware of our connection to mother nature and all that she has to offer.  And it may even save us some trips to the doctor!

Those are my independent thoughts, words and views for today. See you tomorrow on Have a great day, and remember to get outdoors for some fresh air! It’s good for fulfilling the mind, body and spirit.

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