Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
by Richard Louv
According to the author, in the past two generations, not only have areas available for children to play in nature decreased, but parents have been (intentionally or not) discouraging kids to play outdoors. Fears of injury, strangers, and all kinds of accidents that could result in lawsuits have resulted in laws, rules, and parental restrictions on kids' outdoor play. There is a serious lack of direct experience with local nature for them, unstructured play being replaced by organized sports, environmental learning being about places far away (like Africa) and attractions like video games and computers keeping them indoors. He argues that this lack of nature experience can have serious emotional and spiritual consequences. He presents studies that show how contact with nature can help children overcome depression, attention deficit disorder and obesity. Other studies show that hands-on nature education helps children develop skills in independence, critical thinking, problem solving and creativity. Finally, Louv presents a variety of ways parents, teachers and civic leaders can help children reconnect with local nature in a safe, creative and beneficial manner.
Based on research and countless interviews with children, parents and educators, Last Child in the Woods is a serious look at the current alienation many kids have from nature and the importance of "reconnecting" them. I did get a bit bogged down by all the statistics presented, but overall this is an excellent and thought-provoking book. Visit these links for interviews with the author.
Rating: 4/5 ........ 310 pages, 2005