Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder Hardcover – Apr 15 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Today's kids are increasingly disconnected from the natural world, says child advocacy expert Louv (Childhood's Future; Fatherlove; etc.), even as research shows that "thoughtful exposure of youngsters to nature can... be a powerful form of therapy for attention-deficit disorder and other maladies." Instead of passing summer months hiking, swimming and telling stories around the campfire, children these days are more likely to attend computer camps or weight-loss camps: as a result, Louv says, they've come to think of nature as more of an abstraction than a reality. Indeed, a 2002 British study reported that eight-year-olds could identify Pokémon characters far more easily than they could name "otter, beetle, and oak tree." Gathering thoughts from parents, teachers, researchers, environmentalists and other concerned parties, Louv argues for a return to an awareness of and appreciation for the natural world. Not only can nature teach kids science and nurture their creativity, he says, nature needs its children: where else will its future stewards come from? Louv's book is a call to action, full of warnings—but also full of ideas for change. Agent, James Levine. (May 20)
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From the Back Cover
Inside This Book(Learn More)
IF, WHEN WE WERE YOUNG, we tramped through forests of Nebraska cottonwoods, or raised pigeons on a rooftop in Queens, or fished for Ozark bluegills, or felt the swell of a wave that traveled a thousand miles before lifting our boat, then we were bound to the natural world and remain so today. Read the first page
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As parents we don't have to move to Montana, or trap our meals to make a positive impact. It can be many little things, like catching fireflies, wading in a small stream with your kids, following animal tracks in the snow. These are all no cost and high-benefit activities that we can do with our kids to introduce them to the wonder that lies just outside our doors.
This book is a call to action. I'm giving it to the principal at my son's elementary school. If you have kids, are thinking about having kids, or are concerned with the future of childhood - READ THIS BOOK!
We had unplugged the tv for a few months and, frankly, were wavering. (We miss it too). After reading Last Child in the Woods, the TV is staying in the cellar. Maybe for the long haul!
A baby who was scared to touch ground? Her mother admitted that her offspring had never felt grass because her mother feared it might be too full of "germs". I urged her to at least let her daughter smell a handful of freshly picked clover but she looked at me as though I were crazy.
I then told her of summers spent barefoot, of exploring creeks and finding crayfish and even some snakes, of coming across a newborn fawn in the woods, etc.
That's when I realized that there could be a whole generation of children losing touch with the natural world around them and I started paying attention to the kids and teens in our neighborhood. Sure enough, very few of them were climbing trees, exploring creeks, walking through the nearby woods. Very few of them built forts or learned the joy of wading in a cold stream or simply lying on the grass and looking up at the clouds, listening to the birds or trying to identify the different types of trees in the neighborhood. All of these things were common activities for me as a child (admittedly, during a time when tv channels were limited to 3 or 4 and there weren't video games or cellphones).
If there is ONE POINT this book makes, it is that parents need to make an effort to help their children discover nature. Whether it is because parents are too busy or too fearful to let their children discover nature or whether kids have too many electronic devices to distract them and which prevent them from automatically turning to the pleasures of the outside world, the result is that children spend more and more time indoors and less time being active.
Is it any wonder that there is an epidemic of childhood obesity? I'm not naive enough to suggest that spending time outside will cure obesity but I DO believe that it might encourage children to at least contemplate the idea of running through a grassy field, climbing a tree (carefully and respectfully) or simply chasing a butterfly through a meadow, trying to see where it goes.
Most of all, this book might help both parents and children realize that nature can be as mysterious, powerful and awesome as any video game or television show (I'd say even MORE so). If our children, our future generations, are going to learn to care about the environment and preserving the wonders that are out there, it is up to parents, teachers and other role models in their lives to foster that appreciation...and, hopefully, that passion...early on.
I have never read a book before that made me think as much as this book did. It rekindled old memories of childhood that were almost forgotten, it encourage me to strike up conversations with strangers who asked what I was reading about, and it converted me into an almost preacher for this book.
The book is not a non stop page turner, but it was fun to read; made my eyes well up with emotion several times; and most of all encouraged me to think about a subject that I did not realize had so much meaning to me.
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