How I Learned to Love the Books of Thornton Burgess

How I Learned to Love Thornton Burgess Books

Extended Family Introduced Me To the Books of Thornton Burgess


Cousin Edna, my dad’s mother’s first cousin,  introduced me to the Thornton Burgess animal stories.  Since Mom’s mother died when I was only seven, Cousin Edna played the role in my life that grandparents did not. She lived close to us, but my paternal grandparents didn’t.

Since I was a child, the adults in my have been sharing books with me. I not only had a mother who read to me, but Cousin Edna and my father’s Uncle Ike, pictured with me here,  also read to me.

How I Learned to Love the Books of Thornton Burgess
Uncle Ike Sharing a Book with Me


Cousin Edna was a teacher when I was a child, and she wanted to get me off on the right foot. She was my main book supplier during my childhood, and she always seemed to know just what I would like. I will always be grateful that she introduced me to Thornton Burgess by giving me six of his hardcover animal stories for Christmas when I was six. I had read them by New Year’s Day and wanted more.

Thornton Burgess Book Gifts Became a Tradition

Every birthday and Christmas after that I got more of the books until I had all that were available then. Children today are fortunate enough to have access to all the Thornton Burgess titles and several formats. You can buy books individually, in boxed sets, and in books of short stories.

As I write this, Dover has some of the Burgess books on sale cheaper than you may find them anywhere else.  Check out these Dover Books – On Sale. Besides some Burgess books, you will also find  Little Activity books that fit in Christmas stockings, stickers, tattoos, classic literature, mazes, drawing books,  and a variety of books about children’s hobbies. Many of these items are half price and under a dollar. 

Thornton Burgess Books Introduced Me to Nature

Thornton Burgess was the first writer to spark my interest in nature by showing me realistically how the animals lived while also giving them human characteristics. He showed them talking to each other and exhibiting human character traits that fit their animal natures.

From  Burgess, I learned that toads had beautiful eyes. The next time I saw a toad I checked its eyes and discovered Burgess was right. I learned which animals preyed on squirrels and rabbits. I learned that skunks had little reason to fear other animals. I learned what the forest animals liked to eat. I learned how they defended themselves from other animals by watching them in action. I learned more than I have room to tell you here.

Many more of Burgess’s books have become available since I was a child. They are available individually and in collections. A slipcase set turns six inexpensive paperbacks into a gift that children who love animals will cherish.  If you click the image or link below you will be able to find them. You can also get them direct from Dover, the company which published most of them. Just click the image below.


Which Books Should You Buy First?

If you are the cautious type and you want to try just a few of the books to sample Burgess, try the first ones I read. They come in a slipcase with the books Cousin Edna gave me for Christmas. I suggest you read Chatterer the Red Squirrel first, since I did,  and it’s always been my favorite. Favorite Thornton Burgess Animal Stories Boxed Set

As children read these animal stories they learn not only about nature, but also about human nature. Characters often reveal their inner thoughts and reflect on their mistakes. Some people may find the little rhymes scattered sparsely through the book a bit too moralistic, but they are easy for children to remember and they are full of wisdom.  Here’s one that reminds children that actions have consequences. There is also part of the story that comes before or after that shows children the saying is true.


When you grow careless even though it be in matters small
Old Mr. Trouble you will find is bound to make a call.

If your children love nature, make sure they have these books. You might also want to read what Burgess wrote about his own life in Now I Remember. If you click that link you will also find other books about the life and influence of this naturalist so many of us love.


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