Book of the week: Nature's Child, by John Lister-Kaye

2nd April 2004 at 01:00
Nature's Child: encounters with wonders of the natural world
By John Lister-Kaye
Little, Brown pound;16.99

One of the true joys of teaching is that you get to guide children through the same discoveries - first encounters with everything from familiar songs and nursery rhymes to the intricacies of planetary motion - that have shaped your own world of understanding and enjoyment. So when the teacher says: "It keeps me young," it's a truth that's rather more literal than you might think.

The process is much the same for a parent of course, except that without the discipline that keeps teacher and child focused, a lot is left to chance.

For Sir John Lister-Kaye, though, for one golden period in his life, in the late 1990s, everything came out right. His youngest child, Hermione, turned out to have an unbounded interest in the natural world at the same time he was running the Aigas Field Centre in the Scottish Highlands, and reinforcing his reputation as one of the UK's most distinguished naturalists and environmental educators.

So finding Hermione, then aged six, collecting caterpillars from the garden was the start of a wonderful period in which Lister-Kaye shared his talent and deep knowledge with a daughter eager to learn.

The book tells the story - actually many stories - of the journey they made together over about six years, not only in Scotland but across Britain and Europe and into Africa.

Read more in this week's TES

Aigas Field Centre:


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