Family & Relationships. Nature. Nonfiction. HTML: The Book That Launched an International Movement â??An absolute must-read for parents.â?ť â??The Boston Globe â??It rivals Rachel Carsonâ??s Silent Spring.â?ť â??The Cincinnati Enquirer â??I like to play indoors better â??cause thatâ??s where all the electrical outlets are,â?ť reports a fourth grader. But itâ??s not only computers, television, and video games that are keeping kids inside. Itâ??s also their parentsâ?? fears of traffic, strangers, Lyme disease, and West Nile virus; their schoolsâ?? emphasis on more and more homework; their structured schedules; and their lack of access to natural areas. Local governments, neighborhood associations, and even organizations devoted to the outdoors are placing legal and regulatory constraints on many wild spaces, sometimes making natural play a crime. As childrenâ??s connections to nature diminish and the social, psychological, and spiritual implications become apparent, new research shows that nature can offer powerful therapy for such maladies as depression, obesity, and attention deficit disorder. Environment-based education dramatically improves standardized test scores and grade-point averages and develops skills in problem solving, critical thinking, and decision making. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that childhood experiences in nature stimulate creativity. In Last Child in the Woods, Louv talks with parents, children, teachers, scientists, religious leaders, child-development researchers, and environmentalists who recognize the threat and offer solutions. Louv shows us an alternative future, one in which parents help their kids experience the natural world more deeplyâ??and find the joy of family connectedness in the process. Now includes A Field Guide with 100 Practical Actions We Can Take Discussion Points for Book Groups, Classrooms, and Communities Additional Notes by the Author New and Updated Research from the U.S. and Abroad Richard Louv's new book,
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The author also overgeneralizes from his own life story. (Since he grew up in the country and
â€śLast Child in the Woods-Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorderâ€ť by Richard Louv
I had been interested in this book for some time. Having read blog posts and articles
This summer I found a copy at my free book â€śstore.â€ť It looked unread. I was giddy. The book thing is like random Christmas, to get something there that is actually on my book wish list, is rare.
I am someone who studies cognitive development, with emphasis in psychopathology (study of disorders not psychopaths), as well as someone with interest in how mental disorders and disability is portrayed in media. You can imagine I am leery of people making up random disorders based on what they dislike about society. They are a very real thing that people experience. They present very real challenges, in many cases are disabling and shouldnâ€™t be made light of in this way.
That said, I wanted to give it a chance, as I believe significant differences of opinion aside, Louv and I are kindred spirits.
What did I find in this book? I found quite a bit of reminiscing, some interesting history on societal change, heartwarming anecdotes, and vague blaming of nearly all of societyâ€™s ills on lack of nature, and increased use technology. Some of it, was interesting. I found myself nodding along in agreement. The ideas for reconnecting people with nature are good ones.
Yet I cannot possibly recommend this book.
There is also ableism and ignorance.
One specific, most damning example being in the chapter: â€śWhy the Young and The Rest of Us, Need Natureâ€ť
â€śThe Rise of Cultural Autism
In the most nature deprived corners of our world we can se the rise of what might be called cultural autism. The symptoms? Tunneled Senses, and feelings of isolation and containment. Experience, including physical risk, is narrowing to about the size of a cathode ray tube, or flat panel if you prefer. Atrophy of the senses, was occurring long before we came to be isolated from the natural worldâ€¦â€ť
Phrases that stuck out were, â€śtunneled sensesâ€ť, â€śisolation and containment,â€ť â€śatrophy of the senses.â€ť
My childhood was tough. There were two places I felt most free, going along with Sherlock and Watson on adventures (tucked safely in the public library) and out among the trees.
While walking the trails, watching the insects, chasing frogs, letting water run through my hands, I felt I was in paradise. I wandered and played for hours in the woods. Solitary? Yes. But I could feel the pulse of life there and knew I belonged to it. I think itâ€™s a reason Iâ€™m still breathing. My senses were alive and FILLED. Not in the least atrophied. Iâ€™m still autistic.
That isnâ€™t what is wrong with this paragraph though. I know many people are fond of a good analogy, a comparison of sorts. I am. However, writers must be responsible.
When you make such analogies, with real lived experiences of real people, you actually also encourage stereotype. If your cultural autism is atrophied, experience less, and isolated/contained (not a part of the world), then so are persons diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.
This is how Louv sees us? The thought he wishes to convey? I cannot believe he has much direct experience with the spectrum.
It goes on though, because then he also, very slyly not really saying, but implying that â€śnature deficit disorderâ€ť is responsible at least in part for the attention difficulties of children. Mmm.hmmm.
I have ADD diagnosis as well. Nature makes me feel happier, at peace,and it eases my stress. It does not change how my mind works.
One of my three autistic sons also has an ADHD diagnosis. The boy does so much better handling stress when he has time to play outside. Guess what? When we come home from the park heâ€™s still autistic. He still has attention, impulse, and learning retention problems. How about my other son, who barely speaks? The joy, the happiness being outside brings him, I cannot adequately describe with the written word.
It hasnâ€™t improved his talking.
Just because studies show that spending time outside increases attention, it doesn't mean that the difficulties are a result of not spending time outside. Non causa pro causa. (and, converse problems or as we like to say round here "ass backwards") It is irresponsible to suggest it.
I know ADHD is an easy thing to bash and blame on modern life. I know too that autism is newsworthy, catchy thing that many people wish they understood the mechanism of.
However, it is irresponsible to hint around that all we need is more time outside, or that our home and school environment is creating these problems, especially when the person doing the hinting doesnâ€™t appear to really understand either neurological condition.
I also think this could have been strengthened by providing more concrete suggestions for change at a family or neighborhood level. Most of the "solutions" are at the public policy or building code level, which isn't really helpful. Overall I'm glad I read it; it definitely confirmed many of my life choices.
Richard Louv makes important points about what we may cost ourselves, our children, and our future by becoming more urban and less connected to the natural world. Within living memory, even urban children often had access to an overgrown vacant lot which would be suitable
An important book for parents in particular.
Regardless of where you live, be it city, suburbia or somewhere more wild, there's nature there for the enjoying and this book explains why it's so very important for children (and adults) to make the most of it.
Robert Michael Pyle, author of Sky Time in Gray's River, said of this work, "[It] is the direct descendant and rightful legatee of Rachel Carson's The Sense of Wonder. But this is not the only thing Richard Louv has in common with Rachel Carson. There is also this: in my opinion, Last Child in the Woods is the most important book published since Silent Spring." First published in 2005, this edition has 35 discussion points for book groups, classrooms, and communities. Also included is new and updated research from the U. S. and abroad, plus a progress report from the author.The book has chapter notes, is well indexed and provides a list of 100 actions we can take to help work toward the goal of "leaving no child inside."
most kids no longer know what it means to just lie in a meadow and watch the clouds and listen to the wind. Louv recounts quite a few anecdotes from other people as well as his own about the value and joy of playing outside when they were young.
the concepts there were not new to me and the lack of numbered notation for references and index placed this book firmly in the land of journalism rather than scholarship. nevertheless, it makes its point well and is very much worth the read if you are interested in learning more about the diverging of humans and their natural environment and its effect on our childhood.
This was a life-changing book in
I would recommend this book to anyone. Anyone with kids or who knows kids. Anyone interested in nature or the environment. Anyone interested in education. Anyone interested in changing the world and who dares to hope.
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalm 19:1 NIV)
"In my first counseling job, I took children with AIDS to the mountains who had never been out of their urban neighborhoods. One night, a nine year-old woke me up. She had to go to the bathroom. We
"I like to play indoors better 'cause that's where all the electrical outlets are." --San Diego 4th grader
Something has went wrong. Something very deep & fundamental, states Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods.
Children in America have largely lost nature and wilderness. Their knowledge of it, their connection to it, their love of it.
Louv passionately pleads that immersion in God's creation is not just a "nice thing" for our children, but something vital for their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual development. He goes so far as to give society's current state a name-- "nature-deficit disorder."
So, is this just one more idea, one more book, or is this something real?
I agree with Louv. I think both Scripture and experience tell us that God constructed both our bodies and our souls to exist in the rich, beautiful world that he created. God intended for us to be blessed, as Louv would put it, "biologically, cognitively, and spiritually--through positive physical connection to nature." That "time in nature is not leisure time; it's an essential investment in our children's health."
This is not some flower-child nature worship-- it's just an honest realization of how God made us. We were not made to be holed up in caves of wood and concrete and steel; we were made to live in God's creation. Louv says "in our bones we need the natural curves of hills, the scent of chaparral, the whisper of pines, the possibility of wildness."
His conclusion? Alienation from God's creation, just as alienation from the God Who made it, has deleterious effects on our body and soul. As Louv quotes Luther Standing Bear, "Man's heart, away from nature, becomes hard."
His solution? A realization of the importance of living in nature, and then a restoration of that life, both on a personal level, a community level, and a societal level, both in practical steps for today and visionary plans for the future.
I loved this book. I loved the careful thought that went into it. I loved all the peppery quotes, like "In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing" (author Norman Maclean referring about his father, a Presbyterian pastor) and "God communicates to us (nowhere) with such texture and forcefulness in detail and grace and joy, as through creation...this is what connects humanity, this is what we have in common. It's not the internet, it's the oceans." (Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.).
I loved what this book did to my soul, turning it to God's creation and its importance for both my children and me. I loved how it encouraged me to more actively involve my kids in contact with and appreciation of God's creation.
So what about the spiritual content? Louv writes very broadly and generically about spirituality, interviewing many people from many religious views. The whole area of our relationship with God's creation has long been primarily, if not exclusively, the domain of "liberals" and people far from a conservative Christian viewpoint. It is sad that in the book he could find no voice from a reformed theological tradition that could have forcefully and articulately praised his ideas while grounding them solidly in a Biblical worldview. I see some seeds of change within evangelical Christianity regarding a right view and right embracing of God's gift of His creation. Hopefully readers of this book can plant some of those seeds in their own lives and in the lives of others in their spheres of influence.
Richard Louv's term, "nature-deficit disorder," is timely.
Richard Louv's book is a welcome reminder. It is a call. We must heed the call, and integrate the lessons into our education curriculum.