100 Best Books for Children ~ Holder

Charles Frederick Holder’s Marvels of Animal Life and Living Lights are numbers 88 and 89 on the Hundred Best Books for Children found in The Book-Lover by Baldwin.

Holder was a Quaker naturalist and prolific writer of books and scientific magazine articles. He was part of the American Museum of Natural History faculty and coauthored a popular zoology textbook. He was a sportsman (hunter, big game fisherman, swordsman, pugilist, wrestler, and yachtsman). And oddly enough was the co-founder of the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena, California, where he spent his later life.

At once an enthusiastic sportsman and an enemy to all indiscriminate destruction of animal life, he possessed a rare blend of qualities sometimes regarded as incompatible one with the other. Something of his repugnance to the reckless slaughtering of animals characteristic of too many hunters, may possibly have been due to the fact that he came of stanch Quaker stock, one of his direct ancestors, Christopher Holder, having founded, in 1656, the first Society of Friends in America.

Science, December 10, 1915

In Marvels of Animal Life Holder attempts to point out the attractive parts of animal life to encourage young students to become interested:

Natural objects are not appreciated by the majority of young people until the attractive side has been pointed out, and I have endeavored to accomplish this by presenting some of the thoroughly interesting features of nature that will incite my young friends to take to the woods and streams, and become investigators themselves, selecting some of the subjects — mimicry, nest-building fishes, etc. — as their specialties. The way to study the sword-fish is to first go swordfishing, if you can, and so with all natural studies, take to the field and arouse an interest for the work to be done. I have told about sharks and other animals while giving my own experience with them, in this way hoping to show how much profit and pleasure may be derived from personal observation in these and other subjects.

Holder shares his experience with various forms of wildlife from all over the world:

…that from the striking evidence of design in their structure and ways are deemed the marvelous productions of the Great Maker.

This is a living book. That is, the “facts” are included (including the scientific names in parenthesis), but the information is presented through stories of the animals Holder encountered. Most of the encounters are not your typical observations of wildlife!

Besides these humbler pets, there were a number of goats, one of which deserves mention for her remarkable intelligence and distinctive traits. As a pet she was like a dog, following the members of the household about, and insisting upon remaining in the house, showing a decided preference for the library, where she contented herself with the bindings of books. In fact, Bon was an expensive luxury. Numerous valuable articles, such as lace collars, important papers, Panama hats, etc., being considered by her as choice delicacies. One of the last of her depredations that I remember witnessing, was seeing her leave my side and rush at a box that stood among the trees, and seize a long, eight-page letter that some one had just written and left for a moment.

There is enough in this book to interest the most finicky natural science reader. Reading the book aloud will be a delight. The illustrations are very interesting as well.

Living Lights is similar in purpose:

THE object of the present work is to interest young people in natural history by the presentation of an attractive — indeed, marvellous — phase of nature, and to encourage healthful outdoor observation, as well as habits of investigation.

The subject chosen for this work — that embracing the phenomenon of luminosity in animals, plants, and inorganic matter, and especially those that seem intended as illuminators of the ocean — is one which has ever possessed a fascination for the author.

Because the author is enthusiastic, the reader will be as well.

Young students learn science best by observing and doing. Holder encourages outdoor investigations and observations.

Free eBooks

Marvels of Animal Life

Living Lights

Additional Resources

Marvels of Animal Life
Reprint version.

Living Lights
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Author Notebooking Pages {Free Download}
Use this free set to create an author notebook for our 100 Best Books for Children series.

The Hundred Best Books for Children ~ Introduction
The Hundred Best Books for Children

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