Fun Winter Reading

Winter Reading

Reading by a cozy woodstove.

Although electronics minded people often claim that paper books are either dead or dying, we disagree.

Few things are as pleasant as spending winter hours curled in a comfortable chair by the wood stove reading a real book.

Even better is sharing a book with a child or grandchild. A new sharing book is Walking With Bigfoot, a Beginners Guide to the Common Trees of North America by Sharen and Mark Mellicker. It can be ordered online.

Many years ago nature study was just that. Naturalists urged people to learn outdoor specifics, such as how to identify trees, fish, rocks, birds, or some other object. Later came a movement where specific knowledge was de-emphasized and considered less important than just going outside and absorbing nature. In recent years there’s been a blend of the two. Often having some specific knowledge of aspects of nature helps create understanding of our environment.

Walking With Bigfoot is a children’s book well suited to winter reading. It helps kids learn specific tree species and various details about each one while enjoying the travels of Bigfoot through forests. It’s a fact filled story book that will pique the interest of folks of all ages in trees.

Another favorite is Emily M. Stone’s Natural Connections, Exploring Northwoods Nature Through Science and Your Senses. It can be ordered online from the Cable Natural History Museum.

Iowa native Emily Stone is Education Director at the Cable Natural History Museum in Wisconsin.   Her book follows north woods nature through the four seasons. The book, from her columns, is filled with reflections, facts, and illustrations of plants, insects, birds and more drawn by children.

Winding Pathways encourages you to don warm clothes and go outside and play during cold winter months. Then, come inside to enjoy a cup of cocoa and the fireplace or furnace’s warmth while reading a truly enjoyable book.

Summer Reading

Take in some great summer reading! Cornelia (Connie) Mutel, Winding Pathway’s good friend, sent us her most recent book, A Sugar Creek Chronicle: Observing Climate Change from a Midwestern Woodland.

Her book weaves three themes together that encourage readers to enjoy woodlands and embrace actions to lessen climate change.

Connie is a gifted nature writer who transforms her observations into delightful prose that reminds us of Joseph Wood Krutch‘s style. Her book is a pleasant way to learn about and enjoy a woodland as it progresses through seasons and responds to weather.

As the title implies, she relates changes in her woods caused by climate change. Nature is neither politically correct nor untruthful. A knowledgeable observer, as the author is, recognizes alarming signals of a warming planet communicated by vegetation and wildlife but often unnoticed by those less informed.

Finally, she weaves her personal story into a blend of woodland delight and climate concern. She bemoans her reliance on fossil fuel to get to and from work and to run her air conditioner, expresses joy at sharing woodland hours with grandchildren, and relates her long term cancer relationship with earth health.

Sugar Creek Chronicle is a lovely book about a serious environmental threat. Perhaps its major virtue is how the author blends joy of nature’s beauty, concern about the planet’s future, and a love of life that encourages readers to lessen  the impact of climate change.
University of Iowa Press Bur Oak Series
ISBN: 978-1-60938-395-4

Marion’s all time favorite summer series is by Jean Craighead GeorgeMy Side of the Mountain, The Far Side of the Mountain, and Frightful’s Mountain.

Other good books to read this summer:
The Intelligent Optimist”s Gide to Life.  Jurriaan Kamp. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. 2014. ISBN: 978-1-62656-275-2

Places of Quiet Beauty: Parks, Preserves and Environmentalism. Rebecca Conrad. University of Iowa Press. ISBN: 0-87745-558-9

Their Name Is Today: Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World. Johann Christoph Arnold. Plough Publishing House. ISBN: 978-0-87486-630-8

The Gift of Winter Reading

Bring nature inside this winter with a selection of books from two “nature friendly” stores. Winding Pathways encourages readers to shop locally to support small community businesses. Happy reading!


Julie Welcomes Guests to New Bo Books

Step into the warmth of winter reading with a great selection at New Bo Books.

Books at New Bo Books

New Bo Books is a local bookstore affiliated with Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City. Check out their wide array of current adult topics and children’s classics for this Holiday Season.

For Children

A Leaf Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas. ISBN 9780761362036. A leaf is a leaf – or is it more? This poetic book helps little ones explore the role leaves play throughout the year.

If You Hold a Seed by Elly MacKay. ISBN 9789762447213. Inspire those you love; either a seed or a dream, planted and nurtured can grow. Beautiful illustrations!

Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies. ISBN 9780763655495. An illustrated treasury of poems that reflect what children learn in their first encounters with nature.

Adult Nonfiction

Mountain Eyes by Scott Peters. Self-published. Wonderful photography and insightful reflections on man and nature from Scott Peters’ travels in Alaska, Patagonia and the Pacific Crest Trail. Number x120.

American Canopy by Eric Rutkow. ISBN 9781439193587. A broad historical study of the deep connection between America and its trees, from the colonial era to present day.

Indian Creek Nature Center Sign

After a brisk walk on the trail stop in to pick up some great winter reading.

Books at Indian Creek Nature Center

 Indian Creek Nature Center features a variety of books for children and adults. Certain general adult topic books are on sale for 20% off until gone. They also carry great nature/science kits for kids (Animal Tracks, Science on a Nature Walk, Going Green). New this year are all natural with bark still on building block sets and origami projects and books.

Just out: The Tallgrass Prairie Reader. Edited by John T. Price – University of Iowa Press ISBN-13 9781609382469. A wonderful collection of literature from and about the Tallgrass bioregion with voices and perspectives from the days of buffalo and immense prairies into the present. Individual writers honor the Tallgrass Prairie from their unique experiences and perspective.

Children’s Books

Hunting Red by Jean Snodgress Wiedenheft. ISBN 9780615907925. Inspired by the plants, animals and landforms of Indian Creek Nature Center, Hunting Red takes you on an adventure looking for the color red as it appears in nature.

The Prairie that Nature Built by Marybeth Lorbiecki. ISBN 9781584694922.  Romp through the prairie above, below and all around while also discovering unique creatures and fragile places. This beautiful richly illustrated book also comes with a scan code to get the free pop-up app. Watch the animals pop up from each page!

Adult Nonfiction

The Locavore Way by Amy Colter. ISBN9781603424530.  Discover and enjoy the pleasures of Locally Grown Food. Learn how to source, experience and savor the freshest foods from your area.  Features sustainability, and organic and humanely raised food.

Home Herbal Remedies by Melanie Wenzel. ISBN9780778804895.  Recipes, treatments, sources and identification guide with photos. Exceptionally complete guide written by a homeopath expert.

New Bo Books (Continued)

For Children

It's in the bag!

Great reading at New Bo Books!

On the Wing by Dave Elliott. ISBN 9780763653248. Take to the sky to explore all things avian – from the tiny, restless hummingbird to the Great Horned Owl. Verse and lovely illustrations.

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynn Cherry. ISBN 9780152026141. A story to bring the larger story of endangered rain forests to life by taking the problem one creature at a time. Vibrantly colored watercolor drawings and a letter from the author to her readers to inspire care for the world.

These Bees Count by Alison Formento. ISBN 9780807578681. Can bees talk? Listen to their buzz as they count their way through fields and flowers.

This Tree Counts by Alison Formento. ISBN 9780807578902. Trees talk, if you listen very closely. Count your way through the worms, birds and others that need trees. In the end, trees most need friends like you!

 Adult Nonfiction

Walden by Henry David Thoreau. ISBN 9781590306383. This lovely edition of the classic is complete with exquisite wood engravings that bring the text to life.

The Outermost House: A Year of Living on the Great Beach of Cape Cod by Henry Beston. ISBN 9780805073683. This modern twist on Thoreau’s Walden is a nature classic filled with the wonders of life itself. This book captures humanity’s relationship with nature.

A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold. ISBN 9780195059281. Outdoor prose writing at its best by one of the foremost conservationists of our time. A book filled with beauty, vigor, and bite. Reveals Leopold’s deep love for a healthy land.

Adult Fiction

The River Why by David James Duncan. ISBN 9781578050840. Through the eyes of Gus, the young main character, we are led on a series of explorations into the wilds where the reader is treated to direct experience of the coastal rivers and forests. What begins as a physical journey becomes a spiritual one.


Drift Ice by Jennifer Atkinson. ISBN 9780979745003. Atkinson evokes the natural world in loving detail. These poems move on inner currents and reveal astonishing worlds within our world.

Darkness Sticks to Everything: Collected and New Poems by Tom Hennen. ISBN 9781556594045. Hennen’s poetry is filled with attentive engagement with the natural world. He writes of seasonal weather, outdoor work, flora, fauna and a nuanced relationship to the upper Midwest.

Indian Creek Nature Center (Continued)

 For Children

Nature comes alive in books

Nature comes alive in books

Winter Walk by Virginia Brimhall Snow. ISBN 9781423637479. All sorts of wonderful discoveries await while on a walk through the winter woods with Grammy.  A warm, rhyming tale of animals, birds, trees and surroundings.  Includes activities and winter trivia.

Wooly Bear Caterpillar by Laurence Pringle. ISBN 9781620910009. This bright, beautiful book reveals the secrets of the Wooly Bear Caterpillar. Why are they wooly? Find out!  Excellent hardcover book for gift giving.

Adventure Board Book Series by Stan Tekiela. Preschool board books written by a naturalist and wildlife photographer. Charm is in the bright and clear pictures that bring the animals to life through fun facts.

Snouts & Sniffers ISBN 9781591934264.

Floppers & Loppers ISBN 9781591934240.

Peepers & Peekers ISBN 978159193423.

Paws & Claws ISBN 9781591934257.

Bird Color by Alison Hill Spencer. ISBN 9781591934288. Realistic and colorful this book introduces kids to birds they might see in their yard or the park as it teaches colors.

Smithsonian’s Nature Activities Bird Watcher by David Burnie. ISBN 075661029X. Hands on guide with easy activities, filled with facts and photos of birds. Also includes a fold out identification chart. Lots of fun!

Series by Claudia McGehee, University of Iowa Press. Each book presents learning opportunities illustrated by lovely scratchboard illustrations.

A Woodland Counting Book. ISBN 0877459894. Walk through the woods counting plants and animals from one to 50. Children will learn about the interactions of the woodland family and the seasons with notes for further discussion.

A Tallgrass Prairie Alphabet. ISBN 13 9780877458975. A prairie stroll follows the alphabet with flowers, animals and habitats. Beautifully and colorfully illustrated.

Where Do Birds Live?  ISBN-13: 9781587299193. (not annotated)

Airplanes in the Garden – Monarch Butterflies Take Flight by Joan Z. Calder. ISBN 9780983296218. Monarchs are colorfully depicted throughout their life cycle as seen by a little girl who adopts two monarch caterpillars and shares their amazing transformation.

Animal ABC. Firefly books  ISBN 13 9781770854567. (not annotated)

Series by Bobbie Kalman. Habitats, animals, weather, seasons, food sources and homes.  Photos highlight each topic.

Backyard Habitats ISBN 10 0778729850.

A Grassland Habitat  ISBN: 10: 0778729877.

Time for Kids – Butterflies! By the Editors of Time for Kids ISBN 13 9780060782139.
(not annotated)

Chickadee’s Message by Douglas Wood. ISBN 1591932289. Master storyteller shares an inspiring and timeless Native American folktale about goodness and beauty.

Who Was Here?  Discovering Wild Animal Tracks by Mia Posada.  ISBN 9781447718714.Wild animal tracks! First young readers find tracks and clues then turn the page to discover the animals they belong to!

Numbers in a Row. An Iowa Number Book by Patricia A. Pierce.  ISBN 158536164X. All things Iowa counting from one to 100 reflects the wide variety of activities, history, locations, events and beauty all found in Iowa. Great way for kids to learn about the Hawkeye State!

Indian Creek Nature Center also carries great nature and science kits for kids (i.e. Animal Tracks, Science on a Nature Walk, Going Green) and new this year are all natural with bark on building block sets and origami projects and books.

Adult Nonfiction

Raw Energy by Stephanie Tourles. ISBN9781603424677. Nature’s Fast Food! Recipes to restore energy with simple, delicious, portable and raw snacks. Easy to make at home and take along such as bars, smoothies, juices and mixes. Pick it up to learn more!