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Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder Paperback – April 22, 2008


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Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder + The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age + I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; Updated and Expanded edition (April 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156512605X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565126053
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Scientific American

Unstructured outdoor play was standard for me as a hyperactive child growing up in the rural Midwest. I fondly recall digging forts, climbing trees and catching frogs without concern for kidnappers or West Nile virus. According to newspaper columnist and child advocate Richard Louv, such carefree days are gone for America’s youth. Boys and girls now live a "denatured childhood," Louv writes in Last Child in the Woods. He cites multiple causes for why children spend less time outdoors and why they have less access to nature: our growing addiction to electronic media, the relinquishment of green spaces to development, parents’ exaggerated fears of natural and human predators, and the threat of lawsuits and vandalism that has prompted community officials to forbid access to their land. Drawing on personal experience and the perspectives of urban planners, educators, naturalists and psychologists, Louv links children’s alienation from nature to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, stress, depression and anxiety disorders, not to mention childhood obesity. The connections seem tenuous at times, but it is hard not to agree with him based on the acres of anecdotal evidence that he presents. According to Louv, the replacement of open meadows, woods and wetlands by manicured lawns, golf courses and housing developments has led children away from the natural world. What little time they spend outside is on designer playgrounds or fenced yards and is structured, safe and isolating. Such antiseptic spaces provide little opportunity for exploration, imagination or peaceful contemplation. Louv’s idea is not new. Theodore Roosevelt saw a prophylactic dose of nature as a counter to mounting urban malaise in the early 20th century, and others since have expanded on the theme. What Louv adds is a focus on the restorative qualities of nature for children. He recommends that we reacquaint our children and ourselves with nature through hiking, fishing, bird-watching and disorganized, creative play. By doing so, he argues, we may lessen the frequency and severity of emotional and mental ailments and come to recognize the importance of preserving nature. At times Louv seems to conflate physical activity (a game of freeze tag) with nature play (building a tree fort), and it is hard to know which benefits children most. This confusion may be caused by a deficiency in our larger understanding of the role nature plays in a child’s development. At Louv’s prompting, perhaps we will see further inquiry into this matter. In the meantime, parents, educators, therapists and city officials can benefit from taking seriously Louv’s call for a "nature-child reunion."

Jeanne Hamming


“[The] national movement to ‘leave no child inside’ . . . has been the focus of Capitol Hill hearings, state legislative action, grass-roots projects, a U.S. Forest Service initiative to get more children into the woods and a national effort to promote a ‘green hour’ in each day. . . . The increased activism has been partly inspired by a best-selling book, Last Child in the Woods, and its author, Richard Louv.” —The Washington Post

Last Child in the Woods, which describes a generation so plugged into electronic diversions that it has lost its connection to the natural world, is helping drive a movement quickly flourishing across the nation.” —The Nation’s Health

“This book is an absolute must-read for parents.” —The Boston Globe

“An honest, well-researched and well-written book, . . . the first to give name to an undeniable problem.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“One of the most thought-provoking, well-written books I’ve read in recent memory. It rivals Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.” —The Cincinnati Enquirer

“Important and original. . . . As Louv so eloquently and urgently shows, our mothers were right when they told us, day after day, ‘Go out and play.’” —The Christian Science Monitor

Last Child in the Woods is the direct descendant and rightful legatee of Rachel Carson’s The Sense of Wonder. But this is not the only thing Richard Louv has in common with Rachel Carson. There is also this: in my opinion, Last Child in the Woods is the most important book published since Silent Spring.” —Robert Michael Pyle, author of Sky Time in Gray’s River

“A single sentence explains why Louv’s book is so important: ‘Our children,’ he writes, ‘are the first generation to be raised without meaningful contact with the natural world.’ This matters, and Last Child in the Woods makes it patently clear why and lays out a path back.” —The Ecologist

“With this scholarly yet practical book, Louv offers solutions today for a healthier, greener tomorrow.” —Washington Post Book World

“The simplest, most profound, and most helpful of any book I have read on the personal and historical situation of our children, and ourselves, as we move into the twenty-first century.” —Thomas Berry, author of The Dream of the Earth

From the Back Cover

In his groundbreaking work about the staggering divide between children and the outdoors, journalist and child advocate Richard Louv directly links the absence of nature in the lives of today's wired generatoin to some of the most disturbing childhood trends: the rise in obesity, attention disorders, and depression. This is the first book to bring together a body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional helath of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions to heal the broken bond.

More About the Author

VISIT www.RichardLouv.com
TAKE ACTION AT www.childrenandnature.org


Richard Louv is a journalist and author of eight books about the connections between family, nature and community. His newest book is The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder (Algonquin), which offers a new vision of the future, in which our lives are as immersed in nature as they are in technology. This future, available to all of us right now, offers better psychological, physical and spiritual health for people of every age.

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder (Algonquin), translated into 10 languages and published in 15 countries, has stimulated an international conversation about the relationship between children and nature. Louv is also the founding chairman of the Children & Nature Network at www.childrenandnature.org, an organization helping build the movement to connect today's children and future generations to the natural world. Louv coined the term Nature-Deficit Disorder™ which has become the defining phrase of this important issue.

In 2008, he was awarded the Audubon Medal, presented by the National Audubon Society. Prior recipients have included Rachel Carson, E. O. Wilson and President Jimmy Carter. Louv is also the recipient of the Cox Award for 2007, Clemson University's highest honor, for "sustained achievement in public service" and has been a Clemson visiting professor. Among other awards, Louv is the recipient of the 2008 San Diego Zoological Society Conservation Medal, the 2008 George B. Rabb Conservation Medal from the Chicago Zoological Society, and the 2009 International Making Cities Livable Jane Jacobs Award. He also serves as Honorary Co-chairman, with artist Robert Bateman, of Canada's national Children and Nature Alliance.

Louv has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Times of London, and other major publications. He has appeared on many national TV shows, including NBC's Today Show and Nightly News, CBS Evening News, ABC's Good Morning America, and NPR's Morning Edition, Fresh Air, and Talk of the Nation. Between 1984 and 2007 he was a columnist for The San Diego Union-Tribune and has been a columnist and member of the editorial advisory board for Parents magazine. Louv was an advisor to the Ford Foundation's Leadership for a Changing World award program. He serves on the board of directors of ecoAmerica and is a member of the Citistates Group. He has appeared before the Domestic Policy Council in the White House as well as at major governmental and professional conferences, nationally and internationally, most recently as keynote speaker at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference.

He is married to Kathy Frederick Louv and the father of two young men, Jason, 29 and Matthew, 23. He would rather fish than write.

Customer Reviews

I found the book to be very informative.
Allison L.
It makes so much sense and offers many suggestions on how we can help our children reconnect with nature.
AM
Definitely a book I would recommend every parent read!
SAnne

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

142 of 145 people found the following review helpful By Sam Thayer on September 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I liked the author's ideas, and his arguments, and agree wholeheartedly with his sentiment. I think he's a great person, and I'm glad this book brought this very important issue into the public discussion. However, he totally missed the root cause of the problem he is addressing, and thereby missed the answer to the dilemma. Children don't spend enough time in Nature because adults don't. If we want our children to value Nature and experience it, we must. They are just modeling our behavior. As a Nature educator, I have grown to be disgusted by the very prevalent attitude of middle class parents: "Can somebody please take my kids outside so they can appreciate Nature while I go do important things?" This book is an elaboration on that misguided and futile idea. The author seems to be trying to see beyond it, but he can't quite do it.

Nature deficit disorder is MORE prevalent in adults than in children, and we are passing the disease on to them by rearing them in a way that reflects our chosen values. It is something like parents who smoke and drink while telling their kids not to do the same. Not only is it an ineffective strategy, it is also a disingenuous one.
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89 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Wayne A. Smith VINE VOICE on March 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv is a timely book that needed to be written.

The author's point is that kids today are facing a nature deficit and that affects childhood obesity and even the potential for the next generation to appreciate the breadth of nature enough to want to preserve it. After all, if the local mall has an arboretum and that's all you know as nature, that's all you'll expect.

The culprit is not news to anyone, nor to any parent with enough income to plug their kids into all manner of electronic gadgets. Videogames, TV, computers and the like have proved a powerful pull on today's children. The cost is a lack of simple play outdoors, exploring creeks, fields, rocks and trees (the author doesn't count organized sports as nature exploration and rightly so in my book). It is sad, but not surprising to ask any kids under age 16 or so if the know how to play "Kick the Can." Hardly any do, and even fewer have played.

Louv offers a lot of data to back up the negative effects of this nature deficiency and some prescriptions to turn it around. While reestablishing phys ed in school will help, the answer is simple: parents, unplug your kids and kick them outside.

Having said this, I felt the author could have made his points and supported them in a long magazine article. There really wasn't enough for a full book and Louv gets repetitive and even inserts lists of ways to address the problem. I found myself scanning some sections later in the book because the points in those pages had been made before or the prescriptions he was offering were simplistic and I didn't feel worthy of the full play he gave to some.

That being said, important argument and point, I just wish I would have read this in about forty pages in a periodical.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Fritz R. Ward TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I was growing up in Boise Idaho, I thought nothing of spending an afternoon away from my parents fishing ponds along the Boise River. As I graduated to fly fishing, I spent time on the river itself. Closer to home, the canal which ran below South Federal Way offered a miniature green belt where my friends and I built forts and rode bikes. Urban as Boise was, even then, this tiny greenbelt was still sufficiently wild that I would occasionally find a porcupine in our front yard. Our cats were fairly adept at finding quail (and bringing their still quivering bodies to us) and in general I found it easy to retreat to a relatively tame and yet exciting out of doors. Children today have no such privileges. Indeed, as Richard Louv points out, they are literally suffering from nature deficit disorder and its effects are far more pervasive than most of us would be willing to acknowledge. Increasing urbanization is part of the problem, but only a small part. A larger portion of the blame lies with the unintentional effects of our best intentions: legislation and regulations to protect and educate children.

Louv's hypothesis, in brief, is that we have entered a third frontier. Following the argument of America's first great historian, Frederick Jackson Turner, Louv suggests that America's frontier did indeed close in the 1890s, but it was replaced almost immediately by a second great frontier: life on farms, institutions such as scouting, and outdoor activities were, he argues, commonplace until the 1980s. But, just as Turner's thesis begins with the 1890 census, Louv finds the 1990 census an equally useful demarcation point, for beginning with this census, separate farm records are no longer kept, due to the decline in the rural population.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James Denny on March 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
With "Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder," author Richard Louv has a national bestseller to his credit.

This is a must-read for anybody who cares about the state of our planet and our way of relating to the physical world. But it is also a must-read for anybody who cares about rising social unrest, crime, alienation, alarming levels of obesity, higher rates of physical illness and a range of emotional disorders among children and adults alike.

Louv's key concept, "nature-deficit disorder," is a term that he has coined but uses with reluctance. His reluctance to use his own term comes from an understanding that in using such a term, it implies a pathology that exists independently of our having been the primary reason for its emergence. It is a sort of Pogo-like irony "we have met the enemy and he is us." If we look upon nature-deficit disorder as something that has always been there, then we fail to understand our role in creating it and may dismiss the challenge of doing what we can to try to remedy it.

As Louv defines it, nature-deficit disorder is an alienation from nature, the diminished use of our physical senses and a fundamental disconnection from the natural world. In an era of electronic plug-ins with electronic technology, people in general but young people in particular are increasingly separated from the natural forces and processes from which we and all species on our planet have evolved. There is an ignorance of the natural world and of our place in it.

The problem is particularly acute in terms of appreciating and understanding the natural environments in our own communities.
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