There are so many incredibly rich pieces of literature out there in the world. Here at Educated by Nature, we feel that it's important to keep up to date with current research and practice.

Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature

Jon Young, Ellen Haas, Evan McGowan

Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature has been hailed by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, as “good medicine for nature-deficit disorder.” The first edition quickly became the essential guidebook for mentors, parents, teachers, camp directors, and others wanting fun and exciting ways to connect children (and adults!) with nature. Based on feedback from nature mentors and educators around the world, the second edition is not only more comprehensive it’s grown from 408 to 548 pages but it’s much easier to use, with beautiful full color photographs, a comprehensive index, and color codes that link the principles and activities for easier navigation.”

This book sits at the core of Educated by Nature; a guiding light if you will. It inspires all our programs and guides our daily practice and flow, even when working on administrative tasks.

Children and Nature: Design principles for educations

David Sobel

In Childhood and Nature, noted educator David Sobel makes the case that meaningful connections with the natural world don’t begin in the rainforest or arctic, but in our own backyards and communities. Based on his observations of recurrent play themes around the world, Sobel articulates seven design principles that can guide teachers in structuring learning experiences for children. Place-based education projects that make effective use of the principles are detailed throughout the book. And while engaged in these projects, students learn language arts, math, science, social studies, as well as essential problem-solving and social skills through involvement with nature and their communities.

In their teaching, Daniel and Trudi look towards Sobel’s 7 Play Motifs or Design Principles for connecting children’s learning with nature and the natural world. Educated by Nature programs aim to implement these design principles within the activities, sessions and experiences they offer for children and their families. The ability to connect learning, curriculum design, opportunities for exploration of new ideas to experiences in nature is at the core of Educated by Nature’s philosophy and Trudi and Daniel’s personal teaching philosophies.

Free to Learn – Why unleashing the instinct to play will make our children happier, more self-reliant and better students for life.

Peter Gray

“In Free to Learn, developmental psychologist Peter Gray argues that our children, if free to pursue their own interests through play, will not only learn all they need to know, but will do so with energy and passion. Children come into this world burning to learn, equipped with the curiosity, playfulness, and sociability to direct their own education. Yet we have squelched such instincts in a school model originally developed to indoctrinate, not to promote intellectual growth.”

Peter Gray reminds us to leave copious amounts of time for free-play opportunities as well as the importance of having wild places and solid neighbour relations in our communities. Play is the way that both animals and humans have evolved to process and practice the things that they see in their society and it smoothly continues into the work they take on as adults. Our Educated by Nature sessions, particularly KIN Village, are designed to provide space, resources and a community for children to learn from each other and play with the ideas of belonging and being a member of their own society. Learning through play is best done in multi-aged groups of children. Most schools and after school activities segment children into age groups. We’ve made the decision to open our sessions to a wide range of ages so that younger children can watch, learn and have assistance from older ones, and older children can be inspired by young imaginations while practicing empathy and nurture.

Balanced and Barefoot

Angela Hanscom

“In this important book, a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of TimberNook shows how outdoor play and unstructured freedom of movement are vital for children’s cognitive development and growth, and offers tons of fun, engaging ways to help ensure that kids grow into healthy, balanced, and resilient adults.”

Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (And You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage

Dr Stuart Shanker

“The foundation of self-regulation is the feeling of calmness and safety that children experience with their parents. Children’s ability to deal with stress in life, whatever its source, stems from the security they experience in their families. In Self-Reg, Dr. Shanker helps us begin to recognize, not just when our child is becoming dysregulated, but what to do about it: the process that will enable us to experience that calmly focused state where learning and growth can occur.  Learning Self-Reg has an unexpected benefit for us parents: as we come to understand our own hidden stressors and how those impact our brains and bodies, we find science that answers many questions and invites us to have a new gentler lens on ourselves as parents.”

9 Things: A back-to-basics guide to calm, common-sense, connected parenting birth – 8

Maggie Dent

“In her informed, heartfelt way, popular Australian parenting author Maggie Dent takes a comprehensive look at the 9 Things that truly matter in raising children, and why they matter so much. She uses the metaphor of a wise aunty, Wilma — a voice of ancient wisdom that seems to be disappearing amidst the chaos.  With passion, warmth and humour, Maggie draws on current research and her extensive experience as an educator, counsellor and mother of four to guide parents and caregivers in their endless decision-making, to raise children who are happy, healthy, strong, kind and resilient.”

Maggie’s messages of down-to-earth ways to help children – especially young children – develop resilience sits so beautifully with our core aim as an organisation. We love reading her books, watching her video blogs and spreading her heartfelt messages of hope for our future generations.

Evolutionary Playwork

Bob Hughes

“Play is a crucial component in the development of all children. In this fully updated and revised edition of his classic playwork text, Bob Hughes explores the complexities of children’s play, its meaning and purpose, and argues that adult-free play is essential for the psychological well-being of the child. This revised edition reflects important recent advances in our understanding of the evolutionary history of play and its impact on the development of the brain, of the role play in the development of resilience and of the impact of play deprivation. Evolutionary Playwork is still the only book to combine the reality of playwork practice with the fundamentals of evolutionary and developmental psychology, and it is still essential reading for all playwork students, practitioners and researchers.”

Playwork and Playworkers are terms used quite extensively in Europe and America and reflect the role of adults working in spaces and situations that allow opportunity for children to be involved in unstructured play. Here at Educated by Nature we aim to find ways to bring the characteristics of these supportive adults (Playworkers – who allow play to happen without directing or controlling children’s exploration) into the Australian context. We also believe in Bob Hughes’ message that as adults, especially adults working with children, we need to return to our inner creativity and find opportunities to play and explore the world around us to help us connect with the intricacies and importance of ‘play.’

Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder

Richard Louv

“Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond—and many are right in our own backyard.”

We take inspiration from child advocacy expert Richard Louv; his ability to share the hard hitting facts and current research pointing towards the dangers we are facing with regards to children, nature and education. His phrase ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ is known among educators and parents across the world. It paints a realistic picture of the troubles we are facing, highlighting the concern that exists and pointing towards suggestions for a more balanced future.

Raising Boys & Raising Girls

Steve Biddulph

“Raising Boys was the first book to acknowledge that boys really are different.  Including the 3 stages of boyhood, what dads do,  help for single mums, and how to help boys be contributing, caring and positive at home and school.  A million and a half copies sold, in 21 languages. This book now includes new material on teens and late teens as well as boys right from babyhood on.”

“Raising Girls is both fierce and tender in its mission to help girls more at every age. It’s a book for parents who love their daughters deeply, whether they are newborns, teenagers, young women – or anywhere in between.”

These two wonderful books are ‘must-haves’ in any parent or educator’s book collection. Steve’s down-to-earth writing style makes these books so accessible and easy to read. They are great books to read from cover to cover or have on the coffee table and come back to time and time again. With very practical hints and tips, they are field guides for working with boys and girls at various ages and stages of development. It is well known that boys and girls have very specific difference and helping them to grow and flourish, to become balanced individuals takes time, patience and help from others. As the old proverb says – it takes a village to raise a child, and Steve Biddulph is a village member you want to keep close by.

Toxic Childhood: how modern life is damaging our children… and what we can do about it.

Sue Palmer

“Is 21st century life damaging our children? In the last couple of decades, huge changes in adult lifestyles have affected the way we look after children, both at home and in school. Toxic Childhood explains how a toxic mix of side-effects of cultural change is affecting the development of a growing number of children. It also explains how a few simple adjustments to lifestyle can ‘detoxify’ children’s lives.”

This is a wonderfully optimistic book – despite it’s harrowing title, it very clearly and simply outlines some of the ways that childhood has changed over the last few decades. It respectfully offers suggestions for ways that families can support their children, and themselves, get back to a more ‘balanced’ lifestyle. It is a very realistic exploration of the struggle that is currently going on in our houses between the rapid speed at which life travels and technology zooms past us and the ways we need to help ourselves slow down and consider the options. We take heed of these suggestions in our Educated by Nature sessions, allowing families to find some ‘scheduled’ free time in nature – sharing the gifts of the natural world as a family.

No Fear: Growing up in a risk averse society

Tim Gill

“Focusing on the crucial years of childhood between the ages of 5 and 11, No Fear examines some of the key issues with regard to children’s safety: playground design and legislation, anti-social behaviour, bullying, child protection, the fear of strangers and online risks. It offers insights into the roles of parents, teachers, carers, the media, safety agencies and the Government and shows how risk averse behaviour ironically can damage and endanger children’s lives. In conclusion, No Fear advocates a philosophy of resilience that strikes a better balance between protecting children from genuine threats and giving them rich, challenging opportunities through which to learn and grow.”

This book can be downloaded for FREE from

The Sense of Wonder

Rachel Carson

"First published more than three decades ago, this reissue of Rachel Carson’s award-winning classic brings her unique vision to a new generation of readers. Stunning new photographs by Nick Kelsh beautifully complement Carson’s intimate account of adventures with her young nephew, Roger, as they enjoy walks along the rocky coast of Maine and through dense forests and open fields, observing wildlife, strange plants, moonlight and storm clouds, and listening to the “living music” of insects in the underbrush.

“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 is a refreshing antidote to indifference and a guide to capturing the simple power of discovery that Carson views as essential to life."

Project Wild Thing

“Project Wild Thing is a film led movement to get more kids (and their folks!) outside and reconnecting with nature. The film is an ambitious, feature-length documentary that takes a funny and revealing look at a complex issue, the increasingly disparate connection between children and nature. Project Wild Thing is much more than a film, this is a growing movement of organisations and individuals who care deeply about the need for nature connected, free-range, roaming and outdoor playing kids in the 21st century. Hundreds of people have already committed huge amounts of time, energy, resources and money to help get the project where it is today. Which is really just the beginning.”

Ok, so this may not be book but it just had to feature on this page, as a ‘text’ that inspires us. It has made public headlines around the world and has been viewed in locations across the globe. We love the fun that this film generates and the accompanying website is jam-packed full of great resources, links, connections, ideas and inspiration. We urge everybody to check out the website and jump on board Project Wild Thing.

I Love Dirt: 52 activities to help you and your kids discover the wonder or nature

Jennifer Ward

"I Love Dirt! presents 52 open-ended activities to help you engage your child in the outdoors. No matter what your location—from a small patch of green in the city to the wide-open meadows of the country—each activity is meant to promote exploration, stimulate imagination, and heighten a child’s sense of wonder."

A fun, joyful book full of exciting ways to make nature a part of your family’s repertoire of nature-based activities.