Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-deficit Disorder

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Algonquin Books, Jan 1, 2008 - Family & Relationships - 390 pages
"I like to play indoors better 'cause that's where all the electrical outlets are," reports a fourth-grader. Never before in history have children been so plugged in—and so out of touch with the natural world. In this groundbreaking new work, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today's wired generation—he calls it nature deficit—to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as rises in obesity, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and depression.

Some startling facts: By the 1990s the radius around the home where children were allowed to roam on their own had shrunk to a ninth of what it had been in 1970. Today, average eight-year-olds are better able to identify cartoon characters than native species, such as beetles and oak trees, in their own community. The rate at which doctors prescribe antidepressants to children has doubled in the last five years, and recent studies show that too much computer use spells trouble for the developing mind.

Nature-deficit disorder is not a medical condition; it is a description of the human costs of alienation from nature. This alienation damages children and shapes adults, families, and communities. There are solutions, though, and they're right in our own backyards. Last child in the Woods is the first book to bring together cutting-edge research showing that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development—physical, emotional, and spiritual. What's more, nature is a potent therapy for depression, obesity, and ADD. Environment-based education dramatically improves standardized test scores and grade point averages and develops skills in problem solving, critical thinking, and decision making. Even creativity is stimulated by childhood experiences in nature.

Yet sending kids outside to play is increasingly difficult. Computers, television, and video games compete for their time, of course, but it's also our fears of traffic, strangers, even virus-carrying mosquitoes—fears the media exploit—that keep children indoors. Meanwhile, schools assign more and more homework, and there is less and less access to natural areas.

Parents have the power to ensure that their daughter or son will not be the "last child in the woods," and this book is the first step toward that nature-child reunion.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

User Review  - RR Houise - Christianbook.com

I first read this book as part of a local bookclub. I was skeptical at first as I assumed this would be a tree-hugging directive on how to introduce children to "mother earth." On the contrary, this ... Read full review

Last Child In The Woods

User Review  - crystallite - Overstock.com

What a wonderful frightnigeyeopening book. My fourteen year old granddaughter was shocked to find out how many kids do not know anything nor care to know about nature and the outdoors. It breaks my ... Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
THE NEW RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHILDREN AND NATURE
5
WHY THE YOUNG AND THE REST OF US NEED NATURE
37
THE BEST OF INTENTIONS WHY JOHNNIE AND JEANNIE DONT PLAY OUTSIDE ANYMORE
113
THE NATURECHILD REUNION
161
THE JUNGLE BLACKBOARD
201
WONDER LAND OPENING THE FOURTH FRONTIER
235
TO BE AMAZED
289
NOTES
317
SUGGESTED READING
329
INDEX
333
A FIELD GUIDE TO LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS
345
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Richard Louv, recipient of the 2008 Audubon Medal, is the author of seven books. The chairman of the Children & Nature Network, he is also honorary co-chair of the National Forum on Children and Nature

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