The Sense of Wonder

Bookshelf: The Sense of Wonder

The Sense of Wonder – Rachel Carson

The Sense of Wonder
The Sense of Wonder

American conservationist Rachel Carson wrote several other books, three of which – ocean-related – I have reviewed here (The Sea Around Us, The Edge of the Sea, and Under the Sea-Wind). The Sense of Wonder was published after Carson’s death, in 1965.

This book isn’t particularly about the ocean, but is concerned with sharing the natural world with children. It’s a slim volume that can be read in one sitting, illustrated with magnificent yet simple photographs of nature. Carson adopted her nephew when he was five years old, and in this book she describes her adventures with him: stepping carefully through rockpools on the sea shore, or marching through a forest in the rain.

Carson’s central thesis is that knowledge of scientific names and reams of facts are not essential for appreciation of the world around us. All that is required is curiosity and the ability to be amazed, to wonder at things.

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. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year… The alienation from the sources of our strength.

I think this book shoud be essential reading for parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. You can throw in babysitters, older siblings, teachers and anyone else who interacts with children.

You can get this book for your kindle here, otherwise here, here or here (the last link is for if you’re in South Africa).


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Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.