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Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder

Review by Carolyn Allen

It's wonderful to discover a book as thoughtful and thorough as this one. Richard Louv has built on his own personal experience of life and parenting with his professional knowledge and vision.

Nature truly is a learning center like nothing we mere mortals can put together. With all our emphasis on sports and academics and the arts we are facing a real crisis in providing what works best: free time for play in nature. The rich details and natural processes and all the laws of nature are first discovered and explored by children when they wade in a puddle or dam a tiny stream or make their first tree house.

And science is adding to the wisdom of parents and grandparents. Louv has gathered together the latest research findings that show strongly that children need free time, and free time in nature -- to handle the stress of living in our highly industrialized society. They also benefit creatively, and socially as they learn to observe, relate to plants and animals and weather. And it's so cheap! Kids just need an empty lot nearby with a bit of adult supervision to deal with the manmade dangers we have created by removing nature from our adult communities.

Reading this book brought back so many good memories from my own life -- both as a child and as an adult nature lover. Quiet times of lying by a pond and watching muskrats...and times climbing my favorite apple tree to work out my spats and fears. And times spent with my brothers as we dammed a seasona stream with rocks and sticks...or carved an entire city out of dirt under our favorite summer shade tree. These time of free play are nuggets of pure gold in my life. They instilled in me a respect and wonder about plants and animals and how people live. These are the kinds of expriences today's children are missing out on -- and need desperately to bolster their self esteem, their self reliance and their health -- think alternative to obesity!

I highly recommend this book for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles -- teachers and leaders and police officers and religious leaders. We need to take every opportunity to provide safe spaces for our children...and only adults can provide that part of the equation.

Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder
by Richard Louv
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Copyright 2005

For more articles about NATURE & KIDS

Young Birders Get Serious About Birding Fun
The Squirrel Family 0 Backyard Nature Safari
Hamsters are rodents and cuddly pets
Kids Learning Links
Buddy's Diner (for the birds)
Bird Profiles for Young Naturalists