Topic | Burgess Books- What about all of the talk of mother nature?

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  • TheAttachedMama

    Hi Everyone,

    So I have only heard good things about the books by Thorton Burgess.  And I was actually planning on reading them to my children as a fun way to study nature.  We are headed to the ocean next month, and I was all set to start an ocean study by reading the “Seashore” book of his.  We didn’t have a copy of any of his books at my local library, so I just purchased a copy on amazon.

    Well, I was upset to find so much talk of “Old Mother Nature”.   This kind of bothers me for various reasons.  I don’t feel right refering to God’s creation as something made by “Mother Nature”.  Or insinutate that some “mother of nature” had anything to do with the wonders we experience outside. That doesn’t seem to be giving credit where credit is due if you know what I mean! 

    Has anyone else run into this problem?  What did you do when reading the book?  Did you substitute a different phrase in place of “Mother Nature”?   Did you discuss the term with your children?   Do I shelf the book until my kids are older?  (they are 4.5 years old and 3.5 years old.)  I don’t want to confuse them at all. 



    My 9 & 11 yo just finished reading Burgess Anmal Book.

    So after reading your post– i called them into the livingroom and asked the

    about this and what did they think?

    They both said “Mommmm, were not dumb– we know it is really God who made everything– that is what unbelievers call Him”

    They then said — “People write about santa and the tpoth fairy— but we know the truth.” 

    So—- if I were reading it outloud— I would personally substitute God in place of ‘mother nature’.

    Or make sure and discuss it with older children who read on their own.

    You could look at it as a lesson in ‘Biblical Worldview’ 




    We’ve read many of these books as well and have had no confusion about WHO our creator is.  All of the animals have real names, i.e., Old Reddy Fox, Buster Bear, Chatterer Red Squirrel, Danny Meadow Mouse,  etc. and they all “talk” which we know isn’t “real”.

    But the bottom line is, just because my family/children are okay with it (have never expressed confusion) doesn’t mean it’s okay with you or your family.  You have to make that decision for yourself (not that you don’t already know that;) A while back there were discussions about this very topic on the forum; it might be worth reading and then come to your own conclusion.


    Just to let you know, I always change “mother nature/father time” wording to God.   And, I am continuously giving God His due credit.  When we are outside and see gorgeous clouds or some other beautiful thing in nature, my comment is always, “oh, look at the clouds God made today”, or something along those lines.  When my son was much younger, he just “knew” rolling thunder meant God was “bowling” … Lol.  Just my 2 cents.


    Here is the link to the other thread related to these books:

    I had made a similar comment as you.  Although I have stopped playing the mp3 stories, I did purchase the Seashore book which was not on the mp3.  I may read this aloud and substitute God for Mother Nature.  Thank you for sharing your concerns.  I am glad to see that I am not the only one.  dh thought it was fine since they are just stories.  But it bothers me.  ds is upset to find out that many dinosaur books have lies in them, so I am sure it would be upsetting to him to continue to listen and find out that another worldly source that he likes is spitting out more lies.  Give credit where credit is due.  In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. ~ Genesis 1:1  This does make for great discussions on worldviews if dc are ready for that.


    IMO, yours are a little young; even to fully appreciate the stories, whether the ‘mother nature’ thing was there or not. I think after age 6, not only will they be able to more readily separate the fictional literary term of ‘mother nature’, but also be able to understand the living lessons within the storyline that TB put in there to learn about creation. Does that make sense?

    I think at their ages, it is prime time to impart to them the Creator’s handiwork explicitly, through the Bible stories and books that don’t use those literary terms. Also, the time to instill into them the surety of the Creator and love for His creation.

    We live in such a pagan society now; speciafically an earth worshipping pagan society (my sister is a pagan, so I have always been vigilant in this area); it’s imperative to get that surety in there early. Then later, they won’t have any discernment issues.

    Personally, I would shelve it until the youngest is 6 or 7. Here are some great books for their ages that mine enjoyed from Rod and Staff:

    God is Good Series (my children loved these)

    My Little Farm Book

    My Little WIld Animal Book

    G-d’s World and Johnny

    Dictionary of Bible Animals

    Caterpillar Green

    We Want to Learn about Zoo ANimals

    The Locust Story

    3-G-d’s Miracle books

    Nature poetry-here and here

    Creation-based coloring books

    You could read the Christian LIberty Nature Reader K out loud-

    LAstly, are the books from AIG and MAsterbooks suitable for their ages,183.aspx

    Buddy Davis books aloud; like the Marvels of Creation 3-book series and he also has some DVD’s.

    With this foundation, combined with actaul nature observation nature study, there will be no doubt that they will enjoy the BUrgess books and there will be no discernment issues.

    HTH, Rachel

    We decided to use The Living Forest Series for now, we have many of the Burgess books though. When they are old enough to read the Burgess books themselves then I think they will be old enough to understand the difference.  My oldest would be fine, but not sure about the younger bunch. I do like the books though and would happily sub the wording if I did not have the other books.


    Oh, yes; mine (ages 10 and 101/2) have been reading those for 2 years; they each usually read through one or two a year.

    They’re great!



    I have had the same concerns: not liking “Mother Nature”. My DD simply told me one day that we don’t need those books in the house because they don’t talk about God. She is getting older now where she might be okay with the stories and be able to work through the issues of the words (she is an extreme realist with black-and-white thinking, on the autism spectrum). So, I found the document online (somewhere on the AO site) and copied it into a Word document. I then changed the wording a bit, to suit us. That is the beauty of digital! I plan to use it this year, so we’ll see. She loves animals and will love the stories, we just needed to get the wording correct for her to be able to get past that part. Hope that helps!!!!


    p.s. I can’t just say the words differently as we read, cuz DD sits right beside me and reads the words along with me. She corrects my words if I say the wrong one. :-)


    Sonya Shafer

    I like to think of Mother Nature in terms of “all the natural laws that God put in place.” Just as a mother cares for her children, so God lovingly put these laws into place to care for the animals and all of nature. 

    And like we sometimes personalize an inanimate idea or item, like Old Man River or referring to a ship as “she,” some authors like to refer to God’s natural laws as Mother Nature.


    I’ve read all these books multiple times with young children (although most of the longer books I read more in the 6-7 age group–yours are very young for the Seashore-Animal-Bird books IMO) and it’s never confused my children.  As Sonya mentions, my kids seem to think of it as a personification something along the lines of Smokey the Bear—in fact, I once had a kid draw a picture of Smokey the Bear and Mother Nature together scolding someone who started a forest fire.  I guess I’m old enough to remember the margarine commercials with Mother Nature in them and I always thought it a farcical type of thing that no one took seriously. 

    I also think maybe they are a little young, but as the others have said, pretty soon they will be able to know the difference between things and then those are delightful books. Sometimes we underestimate our children’s understanding, and if they have been taught about God and His Creation, they will know that God made the animals and the birds and insects. I am familiar with some of the books that Rachel mentioned and I would recommend them as well. Personification in literature is very common and they will meet it often in their future studies, but they will understand, I would not worry. Linda


    Sonya put what I was thinking into words so well…I was trying to figure out how to say that… =)

    Our kids really enjoy these and because they understand that God created all, there has never been any confusion.


    I agree with Sonya.  We had a great time with these books, and my children understand what “Mother Nature” is referring to.  Also, my children were 7 or older when being read to or reading these books.

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