On the Shelf: The Golden Guides (Plus a Great Giveaway!)

golden guides

Earlier this summer, on a trip to a local Audubon center here in Massachusetts, we were delighted to find that the center gift shop stocked the entire line of the Golden Guide field guides. Originally printed in the mid-twentieth century, the Golden Guides became popular again in the nineteen-eighties, which may well be the last time that I really thought about them. But the moment that I saw them there on the little book tower in the nature center gift shop, I was immediately transported back in time and had to work very hard to resist the urge to scoop up each and every one of the pocket-sized guides right then.

The Golden Guides are remembered by many families as the classic “family friendly” field guide series. And, with good reason. They are accessible for kids as well as grown-ups, and the visual layout is easy to reference, while also being appealing for the casual browser. They are also great guides for families who are just getting started in identifying the birds, insects, plants, and other wild species that they find. Field guides often feature photographs of each of the species inside, which is great for viewing detail, but it can also make identification tricky if you are new to a particular plant or animal and the specimen you’ve got doesn’t look just exactly like the one that was photographed for the guide. The Golden Guides use drawings, rather than photos, to represent each of the species included, ensuring that you’ll get a view that is generally representative of the species as a whole. And the drawings have an incredibly pleasing sort of vintage sensibility to them that makes them fun to look at, even if you aren’t necessarily looking for any particular item.

There are a handful of other reasons to feel friendly towards the Golden Guides. We particularly like how small they are; it makes them manageable for taking on a day hike, and they appear to be perfectly sized for tucking into a back pocket as needed. The inclusion of a built-in ruler on the final pages of the books, as well as appendices giving scientific names and background information are also nice features. Oh, and perhaps best of all: most of the guides are available for around five or six dollars. This obviously becomes less helpful if you are attempting to control your urge to buy five at once.

M to M bag cast kit Text

Since we here at Mud Puddles to Meteors have such fondness for the Golden Guides series, we thought that it would be fun to share the love a little bit. And, we also wanted to thank you all for making this new blogging endeavor such a success and so very much fun. So, we are having our first official giveaway.

One reader will receive a track casting kit containing everything you need to preserve animal tracks (see the project post from yesterday for more details about how this fun activity works) as well as the mammals field guide from the Golden Guides series. And, it all comes in a cute little embroidered patchwork bag made by Dawn. To enter, use the widget below and we will pick a winner next Friday. You can also receive more entries in the giveaway by liking our Facebook page or following us on Twitter.

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41 comments… add one

  • Wendy N September 27, 2013, 7:58 am

    Y’all are doing a great job! I remember the Golden guides, loved them as a youngster!

  • amy September 27, 2013, 8:30 am

    Beautiful work, Dawn! I wanted to see the whole project after your sneak peek yesterday. :)

  • Julie@forestpoppy September 27, 2013, 9:21 am

    I have been enjoying the blog and thanks so much for the giveaway – we’re UK based but a lot of the mammals will overlap (including your grey squirrel which was introduced here and is a real pest, especially to our native red squirrel!). Thanks, Julie P.S. I’m seriously tempted to try and track down a copy of the tree guide – I’m a forester and many of the species we use are native to North America, it would be intriguing to see them in a guide book rather than a text book!

  • Jen September 27, 2013, 9:49 am

    I’ve never heard of the Golden Guide series so thank you so much for introducing it to us all! What a wonderful giveaway. I’m loving this new blog!!

  • Laura September 27, 2013, 10:05 am

    These guides look amazing! Congrats on the new blog – I’ve really been enjoying it.

  • leslie rhodes September 27, 2013, 10:28 am

    this is so awesome!!! i want one!!

  • Angela September 27, 2013, 11:25 am

    I am loving the new blog. It is a perfect fit for our family and all that we value. I have checked a few Golden Guides out from the library this summer for identification of our finds. Field guides are great tools for kids to learn to us. Our bird guides gets a workout.

  • nancy September 27, 2013, 12:16 pm

    Loving your new blog :-)


  • Alexis September 27, 2013, 12:55 pm

    I’d love to win these. My little one is very interested in classifying the animals we see in our neighborhood.

  • Jenny September 27, 2013, 1:55 pm

    Casting tracks brings back very fond memories of summer camp!

  • Debbie R September 27, 2013, 2:37 pm

    I just love this site. Thank you so much for all the care and consideration that goes into this wonderful content.
    So much fun!

  • Meryl September 27, 2013, 4:01 pm

    What fun! I keep seeing a fox mama and baby on my morning runs–it would be fun to try to find their tracks.

  • Kim September 27, 2013, 4:08 pm

    I love that bag. Such a sweet giveaway, thanks!

  • Cindy September 27, 2013, 4:41 pm

    Love the blog and the giveaway! The bag is just so cute! We have a few Usbourne nature books and a really fantastic bird book: “Wild about NorthEastern Birds” that we just picked up. The Readers Digest Explorers Guide “Far Out! Exploring Nature with Binoculars” is another of our kid favorites. I haven’t seen the Golden Guides yet but they look great too! Definitely on the wish list!

  • Sarah September 27, 2013, 8:14 pm

    That is one adorable bag!

  • Heather W September 27, 2013, 9:20 pm

    Love this new space! My two nature-loving boys would sure love for their mama to win this!

  • bookboxer September 27, 2013, 9:29 pm

    This is a great site for us new grandmothers! Thanks for your generosity!

  • Becky September 27, 2013, 10:03 pm

    Love the blog! Love the giveaway! Love the bag! Love getting outside with little ones! Thanks for inspiration.

  • Lise September 27, 2013, 10:05 pm

    I’m a huge fan of Golden Guides! We have a big basket of them, and I’m always looking for more.

    Thanks for the chance to win such a cute kit! Track casting is something I have yet to try…

  • Rachel~At the Butterfly Ball September 27, 2013, 10:18 pm

    We love Golden Guides here! We haven’t done any plaster casting in several years. Your post from yesterday has really inspire me and the kids to get the stuff together to start again! We are really enjoying this blog ever since we found it!

  • MojraL September 27, 2013, 10:44 pm

    Oh, yes! I remember the Golden Guides, I used them in the ’80’s with my daughter. It would be fun to use them with my grandchildren now.

  • KC September 27, 2013, 11:17 pm

    That bag looks amazing. So excited to get another chance at winning Dawn’s casting kit. :)

  • Erin September 27, 2013, 11:23 pm

    What an exciting find—both the golden guide books & your exciting new website! Thanks for all the work that goes into publishing something like this! I will definitely be back for more! :)

  • Kirsten September 28, 2013, 1:03 am

    Love the concept of this blog and love the giveaway! We love making track casts. Thanks

  • ariana September 28, 2013, 6:56 am

    Thrilled to have found your blog and thoroughly enjoying all it has to offer! Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Kat September 28, 2013, 7:55 am

    Plaste casts! I have to introduce my 5 year old to them, he will be as obsessed as I once was, yay! Great new website, I’ve already told a few nature loving families about it.

  • Becca September 28, 2013, 8:09 am

    I do love those Golden Guides! Very sweet books. We have the snake book and the boys love it!

  • Heather September 28, 2013, 2:54 pm

    Wow! Another fantastic blog! Great giveaway! Thanks so much for all your hard work & awesome ideas :)

  • Sandra September 29, 2013, 5:20 pm

    Great new blog initiative!! And thanks so much for this chance to win the kit and guide. That bag is adorable, btw :)

  • Lisa A September 29, 2013, 9:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing these. I think I will have to keep an eye out for them. (Although hopefully I can win the giveaway!). Thanks also for such a great blog. I am enjoying following.

  • Meg Blair September 30, 2013, 1:14 am

    These guides look great. I’m in Australia though so quite different animals here. You have reminded me though, to get onto the Gould League guides (an Aust.n equivalent) to check out some for my brood. Thanks for the reminder and thanks for the blog. Great work!

  • Agnes September 30, 2013, 1:50 am

    I’ve never heard of the Golden Guides, but we do have some laminated California Wildflowers and Sealife guides; the kids love them, and I’m sure they will love these too. Thank you! Congratulations on the new blog!

  • Annie 2.0 September 30, 2013, 7:25 pm

    Eeek, I love these Golden Guides. My grandma used to have a stash of them I would read on long summer days as a kid. Love the embroidered bag, too, so cute!

  • tamara September 30, 2013, 9:04 pm

    This is such a wonderful new blog and we are loving it. With the cooler weather coming we are trying to get outside as much as possible. I have some great guides for when we go walking and am looking for more – these would be great!

  • Willow October 1, 2013, 7:23 am

    Oh my goodness! How darling that little critter is on the Golden Guides cover. What a wonderful set, and congratulations on your new blog. It looks absolutely inspiring.

  • Rhonda October 1, 2013, 7:02 pm

    Love this idea — my kids are big time naturalists and one ESPECIALLY loves all things animals — the more wild the better. So anything to keep my little munchkins busy in the great outdoors is a great thing…

  • April Smith October 1, 2013, 8:29 pm

    My parents gave me the Rocks&Minerals field guide when I was a girl in the eighties. I have given the same to my son who is interested. Fond memories! I love them all.

  • Cassandra October 2, 2013, 10:53 am

    So inspiring! Thank you!

  • Misa October 3, 2013, 7:07 pm

    I love the new blog you’ve set up here. It’s really lovely.

    I remember casting animal tracks at camp, only we really just took these big rubber “animal track stamps” and used those to push into the sand with. I keep thinking about doing it with the real thing.

  • Missy October 3, 2013, 7:17 pm

    Oh, I do love Golden Guides! They are just perfect for little hands. What a beautiful kit!

  • becca rowell October 3, 2013, 9:43 pm

    these books look awesome!

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