- Hardcover: 323 pages
- Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill; 1st edition (April 15, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1565123913
- ISBN-13: 978-1565123915
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 379 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #881,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder Hardcover – April 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 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 Americas 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 childrens 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. Louvs 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 childs development. At Louvs prompting, perhaps we will see further inquiry into this matter. In the meantime, parents, educators, therapists and city officials can benefit from taking seriously Louvs call for a "nature-child reunion."
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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.
Please read this book if you care about your children...if you care about grace and beauty. My poor words are not adequate to express how profoundly revelatory an experience this book has been for me. This is an easy book to read, easy and quick...but you will probably find (as I have) the need to keep it handy as a touchstone as you try to sort out what's amiss in this modern disconnected world. This book explains my awkward first paragraph.
Please read this book, you won't regret it.
As a result we now schedule vacation time to include unstructured time spent in our national parks, local walks and hikes, and --for the first time--fishing (catch and release) at a stocked pond. It was worth it to see the ick-factor when the boys had to put a worm on the hook: "Seriously, Mom?! Shouldn't we be washing our hands?!"
Also, we dedicated most of our tiny backyard for digging: areas for them to plant veggies and flowers, to make messes, and to bury "treasure". Looks horrid, but well worth it!
Luckily, there are forces at work that are planning for a brighter future. Louv explores the success that some European countries have had with greening their urban spaces. Cities across America are working hard to preserve their open spaces, and to create more livable communities. Sustainability has evolved from a buzzword to a metric of public planning. Meanwhile, educators are discovering the real benefits of natural experience, and these ideas are being increasingly incorporated into schools and communities. He describes programs that connect farmers and hatcheries with schools, giving students opportunities for hands-on experience that can prove life changing. He paints a picture of the future in which our kids (and their kids) actually figure out how to divide resources, land, and responsibility in ways that are truly sustainable and foster health, connection, and community. We have the resources, technologies, and responsibility to make this a universal priority for all of us right now. It may be what saves us all.
Most recent customer reviews
I'll be honest, that the picture on the cover of the kid with the frog led me into wanting to know what this book was about.Read more