Because of this somewhat new revelation I am always on the lookout for good nature-related books. So I was more than excited when I had the opportunity to interview author and photographer David FitzSimmons. He has written no less than six children's book about wildlife and is currently working another. David is also a Sigma Pro photographer who specializes in nature photography and freelance writer.
What influenced your love of the outdoors?
My Dad was an outdoor educator, so throughout my youth I was surrounded by animals and other kinds of nature. He spent countless hours with my Mom, my brothers, and me exploring nature.
How did you get involved with writing children's books?
My Mom was an elementary school teacher, and I attended many children's literature conferences with her growing up. In graduate school I studied narrative theory—how stories work. With my love of the outdoors, it was a natural fit for me to write children's books about nature. I first tried out my high key, or white background, photography technique during an ad campaign for Sigma, my photographic sponsor. I loved the technique so much that I turned the images into my picture book series, Curious Critters.
Salamander Dance is a very unique book. What inspired you to write it?
Every spring growing up my dad, brothers and I would explore ponds looking for salamanders. In the course of my work, I discovered that there were no children's books about vernal ponds and the animals that call them home. So, I decided to write one.
You have three daughters of your own now and are busy with photography, travel and writing. How do you make time for the outdoors as a family?
We make time after school every day for the outdoors. We are lucky to live about three miles from a state park; but, if we don't have time to explore there, we head to our backyard. My wife and I hand-dug a vernal pond behind our house, and we are surrounded with woods and fields. So there is no shortage of opportunities for exploring and fun.
I am also lucky that I can take my family on a lot of my work travels. We travel all across North America, learning about people and their environments.
What are your family's favorite outdoor activities?
Our goal is to give our kids plenty of opportunities for free play and to explore nature. So, while we love to hike and garden, we spend a significant amount of time allowing our kids to "lead" our adventures. My friend, Richard Louv, author of Last Child In The Woods and founder of the Children and Nature Network, and I agree that kids need free play in nature.
There are a whole series of these books and I am sure they are all as good as the first.
- Curious Critters: Volume Two
- Curious Critters: Marine
- Curious Critters: Ohio
- Curious Critters: Texas
- Curious Critters: Michigan
What I love most about both of these books is the wealth of information for kids and adults. The photos and art work are stunning and offers readers a unique look at the animals and ecosystems. They also have additional information about the animals and ecosystems at the back of the book. If you are a teacher or are homeschooling these books are ideal. I was ecstatic when we visited our nature center this week for an activity and my daughter identified a salamander without any help thanks to the Salamander Dance. Kids really do pay attention when you give them positive attention.
Don't forget to continue to talk about what you see and read at home. Talking about nature and environmental issues at home is another effective way to help your kids learn to love nature.
Even more books that inspire kids to explore nature:
- Buddy Bison's Yellowstone Adventure
- Bringing the Outside In
- Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle
- The Truth About Nature
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”