Kid Stuff…with Thoreau

Every child begins the world again, to some extent, and loves to stay outdoors, even in the wet and cold…Who does not remember the interest with which when young he looked at shelving rocks, or any approach to a cave.  Thoreau, Walden

A number of years ago, I attended a lecture. Henry David Thoreau’s work was the subject, and the speaker was a prominent academic, an acknowledged Thoreau expert. He lost me early, when he said that Thoreau was an unsuitable subject for anyone under college age – translation: for anyone except people like me or those we teach.

I was in mid-career as a high school teacher and in no little awe of the insight and engagement that swept through the classroom as we read Walden and Walking and Civil Disobedience.

Really? I recall thinking. Would the writer who famously loved kids and celebrated the child’s clearest eye like being locked away with this particular academic? I thought not.

That moment returned to me when, a year or so ago, I got the happy news that Corinne Smith was writing a book called Thoreau for Kids. How just right, I remember thinking. And now that promise has come to publication; Corinne’s book nears its launch this Saturday.


You all know Corinne as a master, Thoreau-inflected storyteller on this site. And many of you know her previous book about Thoreau’s last journey west, Westward I Go Free – Tracing Thoreau’s Last Journey. Here is a chance to return to the insights and joys of childhood that Thoreau might help you rediscover. And, if you have or know children, here is a chance, complete with 21 activities, for them to discover a writer and presence who can last a lifetime, a writer for all seasons of life.

Corinne’s publisher, Chicago Review Press, has an interview with her at the other end of this link:

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