Thursday, July 30, 2009

Recently Read: Last Child in the Woods

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

The basic point of this book is that children are not spending time in nature like past generations. They don't build forts and go fishing and work on the farm and lie on the grass and watch the clouds go by, contemplating the deeper meaning of life. The effects of this lack of nature-activity are linked to pretty serious stuff: disturbing childhood trends of growing rates of obesity, ADHD and depression.

The book discussed some of the reasons behind the shift away from nature: parent fears of strangers and diseases and traffic, kids are busy with more and more homework and structured activities, less access to nature, and of course the growth of tv and computer technology. The book offered solutions and suggestions for policy change (I admit I mostly skimmed this section).

This book was thought provoking and caused me to reevaluate the life of my family and how much time we spend in nature. Without a backyard to send the kids out to, I have to be a little more intentional when it comes to getting my kids outside time. We like to go for nature walks, but we could do it a lot more. Florida abounds with wildlife (lizards and armadillos and gators and plenty of bugs) but are we really learning all we could about these creatures?

This book was a good lesson (reminder) about how essential it is that children grow up with the chance to experience nature and make it a part of themselves. Here are some suggestions from the book of things that you and I can do:
  • Encourage children to study or play in rooms with a view of nature.
  • Encourage children to play outdoors in green spaces, and advocate recess in green schoolyards. This may be especially helpful for renewing children's concentration.
  • Plant and care for trees and vegetation at your residence, or encourage the owner to do so.
  • Value and care for the trees in your community. Caring for trees means caring for people.
I checked out the author's blog and discovered this resource guide with lots of great nature activity ideas. I really like the idea of a daily green hour. Does anybody want to join me for a weekly nature hike?!