Time Era

Historic time period: 1945–early 1970s

Discover and Protect Nature

In her 1956 article “Help Your Child to Wonder,” Rachel Carson advised parents to explore the natural world with their children because “Those who dwell . . . among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life . . .” (Full article available online). In the spirit of her article’s suggestions, explore the reading guide below and its extension activities.

Rachel Carson was a pioneering environmentalist whose book, Silent Spring, had a huge impact on how people thought about their relationship with nature. A copy of her book is just one of the many objects at the National Museum of American History which help tell the story of environmentalism in American life and politics.

Read This Book

You can learn more about environmentalism by reading these books. Click on the book titles below for more information, or visit our complete bibliography.

Rachel Carson and Her Book that Changed the World book cover

Featured Book

Rachel Carson and Her Book that Changed the World

by Laurie Lawlor

Illustrations copyright (c) 2012 by Laura Beingessner. Reprinted from Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawler by permission of Holiday House.


  • A butterfly on a leaf

    Outdoor Survey

    Take a Trip

    Keep count of the animals and plants you see on your next trip outside!

    Download the PDF »
  • Child holding a camera

    Photos of Nature

    Use Technology

    Take photos together while on the hunt for nature's wonders: big, small, smooth, and rough!

    Download the PDF »
  • A sketch of a flower with handwritten notes

    Sketch From Nature

    Play and Create

    Look closely at something from nature. What do you notice about its colors and textures? Capture it all in a nature sketch.

    Download the PDF »
  • Environmental activism buttons

    Convince Me!

    Study in School

    Read short passages from Silent Spring to explore Rachel Carson's use of persuasive rhetoric, then craft your own statements to convince someone to support your own environmental cause.

    Best for grades 4-6.

    Download the PDF »

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Smithsonian's History Explorer