Saturday, August 27, 2011

Last Child in the Woods: A Book Review

About The Book:

In his landmark work Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv brought together cutting-edge studies that pointed to direct exposure to nature as essential for a child's healthy physical and emotional development. Now this new addition updates the growing body of evidence linking the lack of nature in children's lives and the rise in obesity, attention disorders, and depression. Louv's message has galvanized an international back-to-nature campaign. His book will change the way you think about our future and the future of our children.

Richard Louv was the first to identify a phenomenon we all knew existed but couldn't quite articulate: nature-deficit disorder. His book Last Child in the Woods created a national conversation about the disconnection between children and nature, and his message has galvanized an international movement. Now, three years after its initial publication, we have reached a tipping point, with Leave No Child Inside initiatives adopted in at least 30 regions within 21 states, and in Canada, Holland, Australia, and Great Britain. This new edition reflects the enormous changes that have taken place since the bookand this grassroots movement were launched. It includes: 101 Things you can do to create change in your community, school, and family. Discussion points to inspire people of all ages to talk about the importance of nature in their lives. A new afterword by the author about the growing Leave No Child Inside movement. New and updated research confirming that direct exposure to nature is essential for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. This is a book that will change the way you think about your future and the future of your children.

About The Author:

Richard Louv is the author of seven books. He is the chairman of the Children Nature Network, has served as adviser to the Ford Foundation's Leadership for a Changing World award program and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. He has appeared on Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, NPR's Morning Edition, and many other programs. For more information about the impact of the book and the work being done, visit:

My Review:

As an early childhood educator I had heard about Richard Louv and his 2005 release, Last Child in the Woods, when it was first released. Louv recently updated the book, and I had the chance to review it. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to do so! 

I cannot stress enough the importance for EVERY parent and educator of young children to read this book! It will change the way you look at play, education and learning forever. As good as the increase in technology and modernism has been for man, there have been so many downfalls as well. Particularly in the way our learn. Not only do you have children not connecting with their natural world, like my generation did (and those prior), but we are seeing an epidemic of sorts in childhood diabetes, obesity, behavior issues, and more. All that can in many senses be related to our disconnect to nature. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying these physical issues are caused by children not going outside, but there is a definite correlation, and Louv explains his thoughts on this in his book.

Although Louv uses a lot of statistics, history, etc,but not a lot of empirical data, the book is very easy to understand, flows nicely and will definitely your thinking about children and nature play and exploration.  I also LOVED the revised version including 100 Nature Activiites for Families to enjoy.

I have already done a few of the activities from the list with my girls, and my family child care program:

a) Be a cloudspotter: we all went in the yard and laid down in the grass to observe clouds and find pictures in children are preschool age, but we looked up the names and types on clouds in our child encyclopedia and online later to learn more! It was great to hear all that the children found in the clouds! (p. 361)

b) Go Digital: I bought three second hand digital cameras for the kids to use outside and take picture of their surroundings. It has been so much fun going through the pictures and seeing what they do on a daily basis! (p. 363)

Here are a few quotes from the book that especially resonated with me:

"If getting our kids out into nature is a search for perfection, or is one more chore, then the belief in perfection and the chore defeats the joy. It's a good thing to learn more about nature in order to share this knowledge with children; it's even better if the adult and child learn about nature together. And it's a lot more fun." 

“I like to play indoors better ‘cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.”

"Unlike television, nature does not steal time; it amplifies it"

"An environment-based education movement--at all levels of education--will help students realize that school isn't supposed to be a polite form of incarceration, but a portal to the wider world." 

I highly recommend this book and give it a huge thumbs up.

BUY IT: You can purchase Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv at your favorite bookseller, from Thomas Allen & Sons Ltd

***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of Thomas Allen, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

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