Last Child in the Woods

Last Child in the Woods

Saving Our Children From Nature-deficit Disorder

Book - 2005
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Workman Press.
“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are,” reports a fourth grader. But it’s not only computers, television, and video games that are keeping kids inside. It’s also their parents’ fears of traffic, strangers, Lyme disease, and West Nile virus; their schools’ 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 children’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 attentiondeficit 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 deeply—and find the joy of family connectedness in the process.
"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.


Baker & Taylor
Presents a study showing how a child's lack of connection to nature can cause obesity, distraction, and depression, and offers suggestions on how nature can be used to enhance problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Baker
& Taylor

Warning parents about the dangers of allowing children to grow up without contact with natural areas, this provocative study shows how this lack of connection to nature causes obesity, distraction, and depression and offers helpful suggestions on how to develop an environment-based educational program that can enhance children's problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making skills.

Publisher: Chapel Hill, NC : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2005
ISBN: 9781565123915
1565123913
Characteristics: x, 323 p. ; 24 cm

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SPL_Shauna Nov 07, 2017

If you're a nature lover who's hoping to impart the same love in your children, this book is essential. In the first half of the book, Louv's research details the many ways exposure to nature helps kids' physical, mental and emotional development. The second half of the book focuses on how to put the research into action to benefit your family.

Louv's writing is compelling and impassioned, a call to the outward bound. Enough of the research is applicable to all ages that this book is a good companion read for those who read The Nature Fix, and are hungry for more information. This book is a treasure, and highly recommended.

v
vcaron
Dec 16, 2016

This is a must read book. It's not just for parents about children; it's for all of us and our need to be outdoors in nature in order to be a well-balanced, whole individual.

k
kanbantus
Dec 18, 2015

Great book, I've read it from cover to cover in a matter of days, so interesting. Very well reaserched, it tells many interesting facts. I am a nature lover myself, and try to teach my children to treat it with respect to - I found quite a few great ideas to use in parenting. It is not a how-to manual, but
I took the information relevant to me from this book and read a lot of eye opening facts.highly recommended for parents.

t
thebritlass
Apr 07, 2015

While not (yet) an official diagnosis, the premise that people, particularly today's children, are suffering from a lack of contact with nature is compelling and inspiring. Contains good arguments to get one making some lifestyle changes

andreas1111 Mar 11, 2014

Great premise to this book. Basically the author contends that due to a number factors such as parental and societal paranoia and the lure of electronic media kids don't get enough time in nature, and that lack of nature has a lot of negative impacts.

I agree 100%, but I still found the book a bit of a tedious read. Seems like the book could easily have been half the length.

Also didn't focus enough on role of parents. if parents are obsessed with electronics and at best ambivalent about spending time outside then how do we expect kids to connect with nature??

k
kelidei
Feb 16, 2014

Fascinating and widely researched.

drchestnut Feb 01, 2014

This book was recommended for the library by the artist Robert Bateman who told me in an email that "nature is transforming". He also says research has shown that many issues facing our young people today can be improved by being exposed to nature.
Nature teaches us many life lessons and if we are quiet and listen many wonders.

j
justslide
Aug 20, 2013

I would recommend this book to anyone with children and it is a wonderful resource for anyone that works with children and youth as well. Louv speaks about today's young people and how they are growing up in America's third frontier, which includes: the detachment from the sources of food, the virtual disappearance of the farm family, the suburbs and their ever shrinking open space, the ambivalent new relationship between humans and other animals, and a generation that is so "plugged-in" that it has lost the connection with our natural world...but he provides hope for the future and talks about the change that is already in full force. He provides beautiful quotes throughout his chapters. I gotta say, after reading his book, I was truly inspired.

e
EricaReynolds
Nov 02, 2010

A terrific book--recommended for all parents. "Nature-deficit disorder" might be a bit of hyperbole, but even for nature-loving parents, this book is an eye-opener with a lot of good evidence of why kids really need and benefit from unstructured outside time in natural environments and that nature needs to be infused into children's daily lives and not just fun vacations.

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acornsandnuts
Jun 09, 2014

We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children's memories, the adventures we've had together in nature will always exist.

a
acornsandnuts
Jun 09, 2014

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.

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acornsandnuts
Jun 09, 2014

In this influential work about the staggering divide between children and the outdoors, 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 the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.

Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond—and many are right in our own backyard.

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