Monday, November 20, 2006

Rachel Carson: The Sense of Wonder

In 1956, biologist Rachel Carson (author of the landmark book, Silent Spring) published an article in Women's Home Companion Magazine titled "Help Your Child to Wonder." It's a beautifully written essay about why it's important to help children develop (and keep) a sense of wonder. In detailed and delicate prose, she outlines some little things you can do to encourage that a gift as simple as a magnifying glass can open up whole new worlds of possibility and imagination.

In 1965, a year after Rachel Carson died of cancer, the essay was published as a book, with gorgeous photography by Charles Pratt, and in 1998, Harper Collins published another beautiful versionwith photography by Nick Kelsh.

"If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder," writes Carson, "he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in."
The Sense Of Wonder has been an inspiration to me on so many levels, and while Carson wrote it specifically in reference to children, I truly think that her words are important for all of us. Maybe even for adults especially, because it's so easy in the daily routine and grind of adult life, to lose our sense of the wonder that exists all around us. Rachel Carson says it more eloquently:

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.
The aim of The Sense of Wonder is to encourage us to hold on to that "true instinct" as long as we possibly can. And as long as there are books like this in the world, that task is made just a bit easier.

For more information on Rachel Carson and her work:

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