With Earth Day around the corner, it seems appropriate to consider why we need to care about the natural world and to share that love of nature with our children.
by Richard Louv
Algonquin Books 2008
"Leave no child inside"
In this book, Richard Louv details how today's children are cut off from experiencing the natural world. As a child I relished my childhood private explorations of the abandoned lot on the corner of my street. It was a place I could follow worn paths in the brush and watch ants building a hill, grain of sand by grain of sand, or wonder why the grass was so tall and dusty compared to the neat trimmed lawns of the surrounding suburbia. I would peer into burrows wondering what animal lived inside.
Today many parents are afraid to let their children wander unsupervised in abandoned places or undeveloped woodlands in the way I did as a child. It is a different world I am afraid. Children are literally being scared out of the woods because of dangerous strangers or given only very controlled experiences under the guidance of watchful adult eyes. Other children have become so tied to the TV screen or the computer or tablet that they don't "have time" to explore nature. And if they are dragged outside, they are wearing headphones or talking on the cell phone!
Yet, exploring nature is balm for the soul and exercise for the body. It can calm a child and improve physical health. Louv makes the following suggestions:
To address the safety issues of the world we live in parents and communities might initiate children's parks and natural playgrounds - as tiny as an abandoned lot in a city - where children can explore on their own in a place that is safe.
Louv writes well and supports his ideas with carefully selected research and examples. Reading Last Child in the Woods will inspire you to celebrate the importance of nature and make sure our children celebrate it too.
Reviewed by Joan Koster
Randy White lists multiple benefits for children exposed to the natural world as reflected in current research. Here are a few of them. Find the rest here.
Children&Nature - Green Play
National Wildlife Federation Lesson Plans Ranger Rick and more
NAEYC Children and Nature Nature activities for little ones