Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder [PDF / Epub] ✐ Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder ☃ Richard Louv –  The Book That Launched an International Movement
“An absolute mustread for parents” —The Boston Globe
“It rivals Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring” —The Cincinnati  The Book That Launched in the Kindle Ö an International Movement  “An absolute mustread for parents” —The Boston Globe  “It rivals Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring” —The Cincinnati Enquirer   Last Child PDF/EPUB or “I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are,” reports a fourth grader But it’s not only computers, television, and Child in the ePUB ☆ video games that are keeping kids inside It’s also their parents’ fears of traffic, strangers, Lyme disease, and West Nile virus; their schools’ emphasis on and homework; their structured schedules; and their lack of access to natural areas Local governments, neighborhood associations, and even organizations devoted to the outdoors are placing legal and regulatory constraints on many wild spaces, sometimes making natural play a crime As children’s connections to nature diminish and the social, psychological, and spiritual implications become apparent, new research shows that nature can offer powerful therapy for such maladies as depression, obesity, and attention deficit disorder Environmentbased education dramatically improves standardized test scores and gradepoint averages and develops skills in problem solving, critical thinking, and decision making Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that childhood experiences in nature stimulate creativity In Last Child in the Woods, Louv talks with parents, children, teachers, scientists, religious leaders, childdevelopment researchers, and environmentalists who recognize the threat and offer solutions Louv shows us an alternative future, one in which parents help their kids experience the natural world deeply—and find the joy of family connectedness in the process  Now includesA Field Guide withPractical Actions We Can Take  Discussion Points for Book Groups, Classrooms, and Communities  Additional Notes by the Author  New and Updated Research from the US and Abroad Richard Louv's new book, Our Wild Calling, is available now .

About the Author: Richard Louv

Richard Louv born in the Kindle Ö is a journalist and author of books about the connections between family, nature and community His book, Last Child in Last Child PDF/EPUB or the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder Algonquin, translated into languages and published in countries, has stimulated an international conversation about Child in the ePUB ☆ the relationship between children and nature.

10 thoughts on “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder

  1. Skylar Burris Skylar Burris says:

    This is typical sentence from Last Child in the Woods: he offered no academic studies to support his theory; nonetheless his statement rang true. That about sums up this book: it's not empirical, but, nonetheless, it rings true'more or less. Louv draws his conclusions far too widely and gives too much credit to what nature will do for kids, but the general idea rings true. Kids should play in nature ' not because (as Louv questionably implies) it will cure ADHD, make them better athletes, increase their math and language test scores, prevent depression, or guarantee great creativity ' but because it's fun, it's freeing, it's healthy, and they're kids, and that's what kids have done for centuries.

    The author takes an unfocused and largely anecdotal approach to supporting his argument that playing in nature makes kids better off in a myriad ways. He dubs the results of modern lack of contact with nature nature deficit disorder. He cites some studies but often ignores the maxim that correlation does not necessarily imply causation. A typical support goes something like this: look at all these creative people. They used to play in nature as kids. Playing in nature must make people creative. It's rather like picking the most creative people of the current youngest generation and saying ' look at all these creative people. They used to surf the internet as kids! Surfing the internet must have made them creative!

    It makes sense, however, that nature would have a calming effect on kids; that balancing on fallen trees as you cross the creek would build coordination, that spending time imbibing the wonders of the great Creator would inspire human creativity. And I join in a feeling of sadness for a world that is largely gone; I want my children to have the childhood I had, spending hours after school exploring the creek with friends, building forts from scratch in the woods, catching waterbus and tadpoles and butterflies, digging pits in the earth, and engaging in neighborhood-wide, week-long war strategy games from patch of woods to patch of woods. I don't necessarily agree with all of his solutions, and I don't think he realizes how large a share of the problem is owing to private familial choice and not external circumstances, but I dearly want my kids to play in nature.

    Louv has ideas for improving the problem, but, as is true of most people making public policy proposals, he doesn't really consider the cost or practicality of implementing them. And ultimately it isn't schools or poor city planners that keep kids from nature, it's family culture. And he does mention this: the overscheduling, the fear of allowing children to wander off on their own to explore, and the permissive use of electronic entertainment. But roaming freely in packs from school until dinner time is the way children have always explored nature, so until you change that private family culture of fear, structure, scheduling, and plugging-in, no amount of city planning or tinkering with the public school curriculum is going to address the problem of nature deficit disorder. This is why I think this is much more a private family issue than a public policy issue, and while I think this book is a good kick in the pants to parents (including me), it's not necessarily a good springboard for policy making, being based almost entirely on emotion rather than reason and lacking sufficient empirical verification of the claimed benefits of free play in nature or evidence that the particular policies he supports really would sufficiently increase free play in nature.

    The truth is ' nature is still there. Development has made the areas smaller, but they're there. The very same creek I explored as a child is right where I left it. The question is ' are we individual parents going to allow our kids to explore it on their own and encourage them to? Or are we going to say, I want you home after school, in your room, studying until basketball/football/piano/band practice? Even the author of this book doesn't let his kids explore the canyon behind his own backyard without taking their cell phones, and he has taught them to be appalled by hunting.

    Some questions I wished he'd addressed better (or at all):

    (1) How much of our perception of the problem might be connected to mere romantic nostalgic longing for our own pasts? I was not born into a world of personal computers (though I got my first in 4th grade) or of the Internet (which I didn't use until college); the world has changed irrevocably, and there is more difference between the childhood lifestyle of my children's generation and my own generation than there was between the childhood of me and my parents, or even me and my grandparents. The talents the future world will demand will be different; we have to acknowledge this and prepare our kids for it.

    (2) How much of it is that nature has a calming effect on children, and how much is it that in open spaces, adults are more tolerant of children acting like children? (3) I want my kids to explore nature on their own, but I did this with friends as a kid because this is what kids did. Now, how will my children make and maintain friends spending most of their time doing things most other kids simply aren't doing?

  2. Nicole Johns Nicole Johns says:

    I would give this a 3.5 rating if I was allowed.

    After that caveat, I have to say that overall this book left me feeling sad, a little hopeless, nostalgic, grateful, and angry. I had a childhood spent outside; in the fields and woods behind our house and on camping and fishing trips with my Dad. I know how formative these experiences were to my personality, spirituality, politics, and attitude about so many things. I have always pictured my child/ren having a similarly intimate relationship with the natural world. But after reading this book I realize that for the most part that ideal world where children run free in fields, vacant lots and woods all over America is no more. We have killed it with fear, legislation, litigation, and sprawl. We have removed the natural world from our classrooms to make room for science and environmental education that alienates our young people from their own habitat, both local and global. We have taken the children out of the world and have only caused them harm because of it.

    You have to read the book to really get the myriad ways we have disadvantaged our children spiritually, psychologically, intellectually, and physically by bringing them inside, in front of screens. Louv goes into great detail about all the ways this has happened, in schools, neighborhoods, parks, backyards, etc. I skimmed some parts because I couldn't really make myself care. But he also gives concrete and reasonable examples of people and programs helping children know and love nature. Personal stories about childhoods spent in nature also weave the different topics and sections together. The mix of personal stories and journalism give the book a heart, where it might just have been dull and overwhelming.

    A book to be read by everyone who cares about children and the future of our world. So, that should be everyone.

  3. Keith Keith says:

    With its heart in the right place, this book needs an editor--it reads like a rambling, book-length review article. I don't dispute the message and there were nuggets of interest (how do we allow for rambunctious play that doesn't hurt habitat?). However, if I were against this or didn't believe the premise, I don't think Louv would have changed my mind. He doesn't makes a strong argument (the evidence is circumstantial and sentimental)--just a long one. You don't need to read this book to know we all need to be outside more and engaged--observing, resting or playing.

  4. Nell Nell says:

    The idea that struck me the most is that it is not just good for children to be outside in the grass, in the trees, in the creeks, wandering and unstructured--it is vital, as necessary every day as is food, water, and sleep. The accounts of how disconnected today's society has become from nature were dispiriting, although there were also many examples of communities and schools striving to reconnect children to the natural world. I also enjoyed the arguments against several things that drive me nuts: over-scheduled children, housing association rules/city codes that discourage free use of public green areas, schools that are cutting back on recess, and kids that are kept inside because of parents' fear (of predators or the idea that nature is dangerous or whatever). And, of course, there's the whole subject of ADD, which I won't even get started on. Several of the studies the author referred to showed a marked improvement in concentration, centered-ness, etc. amongst people that had been outdoors or even just exposed to views of trees and growing things. Fascinating stuff...

  5. Audrey Audrey says:

    This book has been criticized because it doesn't really offer empirical evidence, but I think for those of us who spent time wandering the woods (we had 40 acres that I knew like the back of my hand) as kids, we know what a gift that outdoor time can be for kids. That's why this book is a must-read for parents and educators, I think -- to remind us of what's out there and possible and what we've forgotten. It may be that nature therapy can work as a form of behavior therapy for ADHD kids -- and that's fine. But the point that's most important here is that there's a huge world out there that our kids should be experiencing first-hand whenever possible, rather than through a computer screen.

  6. Betsy Betsy says:

    Rarely do I quit a book - but I did so with this one. I get what Louv is saying - it would be fair to say he is preaching to the choir. I appreciate the real and rugged outdoors as well as unstructured outdoor play for children. I guess I'd rather read something that challenges my perspective. Unfortunately, that was not what forced me to put this book down. If the babyboomers (that is the author's generation)spent so much wonderful time running around in the undeveloped landscape, how did they grow up to be the business people that took these lands away from their own children for the sake of profit? How is it that they have lead our country to be the world's most wasteful and polluting nation in the world? What did running around like Huck Finn do for them? Yes, kids need to be outside, using their imagination and engaging with nature. But they also need to be raised to be mindful and conscientious citizens. Letting them run around outside will not work wonders on it's own, as Louv and his generation have so tragically proven.

  7. Tim Tim says:

    What a significant piece of literature.

    At first glance, and even through the first chapter, one could confuse Louv for an overaggressive hippie whose soul purpose is to let mankind wander barefoot while living solely off fruits and berries.

    Instead, however, Louv has masterfully woven together monster topics such as parenthood, education, diet, relationships, and even religion--all in one book. This book should be read by all human beings, and I do not mean that in a hyperbolic way. At the very least, it's a must-read for parents and teachers. Louv's research is exhaustive in every single area, and no aspect of our society goes untouched. With so much information packed into one book, though, it makes me wonder if the book would be better served as 3-4 different shorter works.

    I rarely make time for books that are not fiction, but Last Child in the Woods is making me reconsider this approach. This has made me think differently about how I raise my children, teach my students, feed myself and my family, and my relationship with God.

  8. Patrick Henry Patrick Henry says:

    Yes, how true! I found myself agreeing with the author' illustrations time and again. For my part, I would never challenge his premise is that kids belong outside. But if someone was skeptical, they would not find Mr. Louv providing the evidence to be convincing.

    But who cares? He is right! How our culture of coddling has drained childhood of the thrills and risk of exploring and discovery. I realize even now all the adventure I found in the ravine behind our rental house, and am richer for it. Wish that for every generation.

  9. Becca Becca says:

    This was another book that is based on a great idea that I believe in, but didn't hold my interest. I felt like the author kept leading me along, implying that there was something interesting or substantial coming ahead but it never arrived (at least, not in the first half of the book).

    The book talks about how children don't have unstructured outdoor playtime anymore and what impact that may have on them. The author explores many different aspects of this, but everything in the book was anecdotal and I often felt that the quotes and stories were a bit of a stretch to make them apply to his cause. He states over and over again that there just isn't any scientific data out there on what impact playing in nature has on us. Then he proceeds to try and imply what impact it has through literary quotes and anecdotes. I really found myself yearning for him to tell us what scientific data there is...there must be at least some...instead of quoting yet another literary work that mentions nature. I was disappointed.

    I didn't finish the book. I made it about 7 chapters in and then started skimming ahead to the more interesting sounding headings. Then I had to return it to the library.

  10. Debbie Debbie says:

    Charlotte Mason got it right. Children need the outdoors.

    It turns out the outdoors also need children. Richard Louv points out the incongruity behind the environmental extremists who want to set aside nature without allowing mankind to interfere, and the fact that our children aren't experiencing nature first-hand, since they aren't getting the chance to play, live and explore the outdoors unencumbered by interfering adults. This, he says, results in children who have no love for nature and thus no need to protect it. One of the many examples he gives is of a young John Muir who spent his childhood shooting his toy gun at seagulls on the beach. How many naturalists would allow such a thing today? Yet, it is precisely this sort of destructive play (like digging holes, building tree houses and killing bugs) that give children a love of the outdoors and a love for nature.

    I confess to being guilty of the fear of the outdoors he sees as one of the problems facing children today. I'm afraid to let my kids wander off, unaccompanied by adults, to explore the woods. But I want them to experience it and have deep and lasting memories of a childhood spent with nature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *