Kinship with Animals

The Bee Book

Jakob Streit



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Streit’s father was a beekeeper and it was in early childhood that Jakob developed a passion for the honeybee. This exquisite reader factually and scientifically allows one to enter into the magic and mysterious world of the bees.

The Bee Book offers a beautiful transition from the Animal and Human Being lesson block of Grade 4 to the Botany lesson block of Grade 5 - and would be an appropriate reader for those grade level.

Little Bee Sunbeam

Jakob Streit



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This story reader for younger children relates the adventures of a honeybee named Little Bee Sunbeam. The little bee is in a search for a particularly good nectar to make honey when it suddenly becomes very cold. Honeybees cannot fly when the temperature drops so abruptly and our little bee must spend the night alone in the forest where an exciting adventure unfolds.

I would recommend it for Grade 5 as a reader based on the level of vocabulary used - it also fits in beautlifully with the Botany lesson block. For grades 3 and up, it can be used as a story to be read by an adult.

Bees and Honey - From Flower to Jar

From Flower to Jar

Michael Weiler



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We all know that bees make honey. They mystery for most of us is what happens between the time when those bees are buzzing around our garden and when we stick our knife in the jar. Based on careful observation and years of experience, Michael Weiler reveals the secret life of bees. He looks at all aspects of a bee’s life and work and vividly describes their remarkable world.

Did you know, for example, that it takes approximately 12,000 bee hours to produce a single jar of honey? If bees earned minimum wages, one jar would cost almost $100,000 (plus retail markup).

Here is a fascinating book for anyone interested in the intricacies of nature and the life of these fascinating insects.


Rudolf Steiner

With an Afterword on the Art of Joseph Benys



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In 1923 Steiner predicted the dire state of the honeybee today. He said then that in fifty to eighty years we would see the consequences of mechanizing the forces that had previously operated organically in the beehive, such as the practice of artificially breeding queen bees. The fact that over sixty percent of the American honeybee population has died during the past ten years and that this same phenomena is occurring around the world should urge our attention to the importance of the issues discussed in these lectures.

Rudolf Steiner began this series of lectures on bees in response to a question from an audience of construction workers. From physical depictions of the daily activities of bees to the loftiest esoteric insights, the lectures describe the unconscious wisdom contained in the beehive and its connection to our experience of health, culture, and the cosmos. They are essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the true nature of the honeybee, as well as those who wish to heal the contemporary crisis of the beehive.

Animals in Translation

Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson



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I've read and heard many reviews of this remarkable new book by Temple Grandin. Depending on the reviewer's focus, Animals in Translation has been seen as a groundbreaking revelation of animal behavior and awareness and/or an inspiring revelation of the world seen from within autism. It is both these things, but in my opinion it is also something else - I experienced it as one deep and brilliant insight after another into human nature itself, not just autistic human nature, but all human nature.

Grandin's insight into animals is so uncluttered and straightforward that she penetrates into the recesses of the human heart as well. The descriptions she gives of the sources of many animal behaviors apply unswervingly as well to the things hidden in the depths of the human soul that well up as surprising, irrational or inconsistent reactions.

If you work with children, this book has more to offer you than I can describe in the space of one review. I can, however, give you an example which I think goes to the heart of how this book can be used on behalf of other people, especially young people. On page 145, Temple begins a discussion of Fear-Driven Aggression. She has previously described Assertive Aggression and is now contrasting it with aggression resulting from fear:

Fear-driven aggression causes so much violence and destruction in the animal and human worlds that I've often asked myself, What is rage for?

Why do we have rage circuits at all?

When you look at animals living in the wild, the answer is simple. Rage is about survival, at the most basic brute level. Rage is the emotion that drives the lion being gored to death by the buffalo to fight back; rage drives a zebra being caught by a lion to make one last-ditch effort to escape. I once saw a videotape of a domestic beef cow kicking the living daylights out of an attacking lion. It was some of the hardest kicking I have ever seen. Rage is the ultimate defense all animals draw upon when their lives are in mortal danger.

When it comes to human safety in the presence of animals, fear cuts two ways. Fear can inhibit an animal or a person from attacking, and very often does. Among humans, the most vicious murderers are people who have abnormally low fear. Fear protects you when you're under attack, and keeps you from becoming an attacker yourself.

But fear can also cause a terrified animal to attack, where a less-fearful animal wouldn't. A cornered animal can be extremely aggressive; that's where we get the saying about not getting someone's "back up against the wall." An animal with his back up against a wall is in fear for its life and will feel he has no choice but to attack.

On average, prey species animals like horses and cattle show more fear-based aggression than predatory animals such as dogs. That shouldn't be a surprise, since prey animals spend a lot more time being scared.

I categorize maternal aggression differently from some researchers; I put it in the fear department. I think maternal aggression is fear-driven at heart because over the years I've observed that the high-strung nervous animals will always fight more vigorously to protect her young than will a laid-back, calm animal like a Holstein dairy cow. Many a rancher has told me that the most hotheaded, nervous cow in the herd is the one who is most protective of her calf.

Any mother, nervous or calm, will fight to protect her baby. That's why on farms the human parents always warn their children to stay away from mama animals. But the fact that it's always the most nervous, fearful mother who shows the most maternal aggression makes me think that maternal aggression is driven by fear, even when the animal is calm by nature. When mother animals think their babies are in danger, they feel fear, and their fear leads them to attack. That's my conclusion.

This brings me to the fundamental question you have to ask yourself any time you're trying to solve a problem with aggression: is the aggression coming from fear or dominance? That's important, because punishment will make a fearful animal worse, whereas punishment may be necessary to curb assertive aggression.

When Elephants Weep

The Emotional Lives of Animals

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson with Susan McCarthy


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I think I'll let Jane Goodall (whom I have loved and admired since childhood) tell you about this book:

This is not only an important book, it is marvelous! If animals could read they would be filled with joy and gratitude to the authors - as I am. It is scholarly, vivid, and compelling. Please read it.

This is a truly great book - I also hope you will read it.

Dogs Never Lie About Love

Reflections on the Emotional World of Dogs

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

Currently being offered as a FREE BOOK with $25 purchase. Click the link in the sidebar for details.


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** Originally $14.99 **

Myth, literature, scientific studies, personal stories, observation and just plain LOVE guide the reader through the surprising depth of canine emotional complexity, revealing what dog lovers have always known, that our 'best friends' have a wonderful and rich inner landscape. The author's own three dogs are the centerpieces of the book and lead the way in his exploration of a wide range of subjects - from emotions like gratitude, compassion, loneliness, and disappointment to speculating what dogs dream of and how their powerful sense of smell shapes their perception of reality. As he sweeps aside old prejudices about animal behavior, Masson reaches into a rich universe of dog feeling to find its essential core: love. A great, soul-warming journey.


Anne Stockton



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It's hard to know what to say about a book whose every passage evokes tears of both joy and grief. Honey-Bun is as much a Song of Songs to the love that passes between human and animal as it is a Requiem for a lost friend. Anne Stockton has not written just another beautifully written story about a beloved pet (and I love such stories); she has created a work of art - poetic prose, luminous pastel paintings, and a story both unique and universal. This is a very special book - the kind that is treasured and cherished as it is passed among family and friends.

Thinking in Pictures

My Life with Autism

Temple Grandin, Ph.D.



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Prepare for an incredible journey into the workings of the human mind - both normal and abnormal. Temple Grandin, a Ph.D. animal researcher who is also autistic, has gifted us all with an intimate "insiders account" of autism. You will learn more about the nature of this syndrome and of the workings of your own mind from this account than you could from any collection of theoretical reports. Further, because Temple is also a consummate scientist, her report is filled with the latest discoveries about the neurological basis of autism and about what therapies have been found to work and for whom they are effective. This is a great book that is certain to help anyone working with any special human needs. Outstanding!


Sterling North


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Our family read Rascal many times over the course of our nightly family story time - it never lost its ability to captivate, charm and delight. Rascal is truly one of the best animal stories every written - and even better because it is a true story, told by an author who lived every wonderful minute of it.

Rascal is a baby raccoon, orphaned in the woods when the boy Sterling brings him home. Soon, Rascal is ready to join Sterling at swimming, fishing, and camping. He's also ready to initiate some of the most hilarious adventures of his own. The raccoon's unique approach to life fits right in with the home Sterling and his father share - a home where skunks, woodchucks, a crow named Poe and an 18-foot, half-finished canoe are resident in the living room!

Wonderful reading for everyone - as a read-to for ages 7 and up; read on their own from age 12.

The Dog Who Wouldn't Be

Farley Mowat


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In this practically perfect story, Farley Mowat recounts his boyhood days on the Canadian prairie as they revolved around Mutt, a dog of uncertain pedigree and absolutely certain eccentricity. Mutt climbed trees and ladders, rode in an open car wearing goggles, and hunted with a skill approaching genius. A thoroughly marvelous dog portrayed in a thoroughly wonderful story. For ages 10 and up at family reading time, for teens on their own and for any adult in need of a refreshing break.

Never Cry Wolf

Farley Mowat


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Never Cry Wolf was my first encounter with Farley Mowat as a naturalist and gifted writer. I have never forgotten it. There is more heart, clear observation, and truth in this book than in dozens of reports on the state of the environment. It is an unflinchingly true story.

Sometime in the early 1960s, the Canadian government's Wildlife Service assigned Farley Mowat to investigate reports that hordes of bloodthirsty wolves were slaughtering the arctic caribou. Mowat was dropped alone onto the frozen tundra, where he began his mission to live among the howling wolf packs and study their ways. Contact with his quarry comes quickly; and Mowat discovers not a den of marauding killers, but a courageous family of skillful providers and devoted protectors of their young. As Mowat comes closer to the wolf world, he comes to fear not the savagery of the wolves, but that of the bounty hunters and government exterminators who seem bent upon erasing the noble wolf community from the Arctic. Mowat now lives in Port Hope - an ideal name for his dwelling place on Earth. Outstanding for teens and adults.