Discovering the beauty of America’s parks

Enacted by an act of Congress on Aug. 25, 1916, the month of July is “Park and Recreation Month.” This is a time to recognize the value and importance of local parks and recreation programs, as well as state and national parks, and to enjoy the many benefits of what they have to offer. Additionally, the National Park Service is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding. The Manatee County Public Library has a wide array of materials, from books and DVDs to electronic databases that are available for both adults and children.

Documentary filmmaker extraordinaire Ken Burns recently produced “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” a visually stunning film that aired on PBS about the birth in the mid-1800s of the national park system. It is now viewable on the library’s Hoopla electronic database. A companion book with the same title by Dayton Duncan is also available. The Hoopla database also has a number of films available on individual national parks including Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and others. Find these in the online catalog under “National Parks exploration series.”

National Geographic is always a source for quality productions and Mel White’s “Complete National Parks of the United States” is no exception. The “National Parks Collection” is a seven-disc set that covers most of the famous parks such as Yellowstone and Yosemite, as well as Florida’s Everglades National Park.

You can also find information on parks in travel guides of individual states or by region. Most of these can be found in the 917 Dewey Decimal area. There are also books on specific parks. Florida has a wide variety of parks and preserves. Susan Jankowski’s “Everglades National Park: Adventure, Explore, Discover” is a good introduction and guide to the park. If you would like a guide for camping in Florida state parks, look no further than Gerald Grow’s “Florida Parks: A Guide to Camping in Nature.”

There are also good books for kids that will whet their appetite such as Barbara Rosenstock’s “The Camping Trip That Changed America,” which details the roles that President Theodore Roosevelt and conservationist John Muir played in the setting aside of land for preservation. The Books for World Explorers series offers “Adventures in Your National Parks” and National Geographic Kids comes through with “National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA: The Most Amazing Sights, Scenes, and Cool Activities from Coast to Coast.” With these resources, you should be able to plan a family camping trip or simply walk park trails at little or no cost; most of these places have free admission.

Don’t forget what is right in your own backyard. Manatee County has a wealth of parks, preserves, beaches, and recreational facilities, all waiting to be explored and enjoyed. Find out more on the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources website: mymanatee.org/parks.

Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday. David Breakfield is a reference librarian at the Manatee County Central Library. Access the library at mymanatee.org/library.