Stories from Where We Live: The California Coast is one of my favorite resources to begin a conversation about California habitats. I was introduced to this book when my kids and I studied California history as a part of our homeschool curriculum. While looking in the book stacks in the California section of the Children’s Reading Room at our library, I noticed this book and checked it out. I kept the book for months, often returning to it in our studies.
Edited by Sara St. Antoine, the book contains a variety of nonfiction stories about life along the California coast. Some are set in our current time; others date back to the 1800’s and are excerpts of much larger pieces of writing. In addition, the book contains poetry about nature and animals located in California. One of the best features of the book is it’s inclusion of stories about children’s adventures in California. On the jacket, it states it is for ages 9 and up; there are many selections that are appropriate for even younger children.
One of my favorite stories is “A-Birding on a Bronco.” Set in 1898, author Florence Merriam writes about her travels along the interior of the San Diego area. At her uncle’s ranch she rides a horse named Canello twice a day; armed with a spyglass and her notebook, she makes many observations about the local birds. One of the advantages to birding on a horse is that the birds were not as startled by the motion of a horse as they would be with the sound of human footsteps approaching. With the birds unspooked, she was able to make more careful observations.
With it’s vivid description, this story — like a field trip — invites the reader to smell the sagebrush, and feel oneself trotting along on Canello listening to the caw-caw of a raven in the distance.