Dr. David Dussourd, Professor of Biology, publishes a children’s book about nature.

 The book encourages exploration of the outdoors and curiosity about life. It teaches self-acceptance, acceptance of others who are different, numbers, colors, and antonyms – all while emphasizing the beauty and magic of the extraordinary creatures found all around us. The book is illustrated with pictures of children from four continents interacting with nature and with over 140 photographs of animals and plants that ask “Can anyone love me” despite their unusual features or habits. For parents, the book includes a 22 page appendix on identifying and avoiding common insects and arachnids that are potentially harmful for children, together with tips on how to keep small animals collected in the wild.

Dr. Dussourd wrote the book out of concern that children nowadays are often brought up indoors with little connection to nature. Other motivations include the perception of increasing intolerance in our culture for others who are different, plus skyrocketing mental health issues in young people, some associated with excessive use of social media and gaming causing loss of self-confidence, depression, and anxiety. Nature has the potential to benefit children (and adults) in many ways. Studies have documented that time spent outdoors in green spaces improves physical, mental, and social health and development. Of course, nature also presents risks, such as the prospect of tick-borne diseases. But with care and understanding, we can all venture into the great outdoors and enjoy the allure of creatures large and small. The natural world is just as incredible as the imaginary worlds of dragons, fairies, and mermaids in children’s books, but it actually exists and thus learning about nature and spending time outdoors can help children throughout their lives.