I just finished reading “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv, a birthday present from my parents – and I just have to share this wonderful book with you! Having young children, this book has grown and stretched my outlook on parenting and I highly recommend it to every parent and teacher to read. My short review probably will not do this book justice, but I want to share anyways!
I grew up in a rural setting where gardening, exploring and nature were prevalent parts of my childhood and I’ve always felt this kinship with the natural world. Louv’s research only reaffirms what I’ve always subconsciously known – nature is crucial for healthy child development and offers humans healing, restorative benefits.
Nature Deficit Disorder
Louv coins the non-medical term of “nature deficit disorder” that this generation is suffering from. Children simply do not spend the quality time they once did outdoors. People are searching for answers to why teen suicide and depression and school shootings are on the rise. Why are our children so overweight? Why aren’t our children meeting education standards and testing? Why are more and more children being put on ADHD medication? While these are all complex, multi-faceted issues with no clear-cut answer, Louv provides us with a simple solution to at least offer help – nature.
“The CDC found that the amount of TV that children watch directly correlates with measures of their body fat. In the United States, children ages six to eleven spend about thirty hours a week looking at a TV or computer monitor.”
This book is jammed packed with case studies and research about how important it is for child development to establish a meaningful connection with nature, and the links between a rise in youth depression, ADHD, obesity and screen time with a decrease in the amount of time children spend outdoors exploring nature. We need to unplug our children from modern technology and let them freely explore nature. This free play nurtures creativity, leadership and confidence within kids and build their self-esteems. We owe our children tree houses, building forts, climbing trees, catching fish, learning to garden – simple activities that are being replaced with iPads, video games, television shows and laptops.
“Nature is often overlooked as a healing balm for the emotional hardships in a child’s life. You’ll likely never see a slick commercial for natural therapy, as you do for the latest antidepressant pharmaceuticals.”
Call to Action
This book isn’t suggesting we all move to Montana and live on a 500-acre farm. But Louv encourages parents and teachers to provide our kids with natural experiences. We are losing an entire generation that doesn’t relate to the earth and could care less where their food comes from, and parents need to make an effort to help their children discover nature. As a society, we do not value what we cannot name and fewer and fewer children can identify even local animals and plants. Yet they are alienated, bored, and increasingly, heavily medicated so they can function in our urban society.
” Nature inspires creativity in a child by demanding visualization and the full use of the senses.”
This book is a true call to action! I am inspired by Louv’s writing and I’m anxious to read his next book, “The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age ” – another gift from my parents. Those parents of mine…I think they’ve figured something out and I thank them all the time for the childhood they gave me!