Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Last Child in the Woods: A Review

Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children form Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv is an important book for today's families and teachers. The author makes some great points about how important nature is to children, and how today's children just aren't getting enough of nature. Instead, our children have replaced nature with video games and tv, and many youngsters no longer have a clue about what lies beyond their front door.
When I was a child, I would spend hours in the woods beyond my house or the empty lots next to my friends houses. There were no cell phones, and our parents didn't know exactly where we were.... just that we were somewhere in the neighborhood and would (hopefully) be back before dark. And, Louv argues, for most of today's children, they don't have that luxury. Many children don't have woods beyond their homes anymore because they have since been filled up with more and more development. And those who do aren't always allowed the freedom to roam through those spaces as the world isn't (or at least isn't deemed to be) as safe anymore. In Portland, where I am raising my son, we don't have any woods next door for him to roam in, and if we did, I certainly might be leery of just letting him go explore, so I can see already that nature for him will be different than it was for me.
Our family does make a point of doing a lot of hiking and camping (things I didn't do much of as a child) as well as spending time in our garden and wandering our neighborhood. Louv makes the point that "nature" doesn't have to be a never-ending stretch of wilderness.. it just has to be a non man-made place that kids can explore and watch change. And I think that we can manage that within our city life. I think that everyone, everywhere can manage that.
The end of the book has some great stories about people who are trying to bring children back to the land. Wilderness outings as a type of behavioral reform, adventure parks for young children, and communities that are more focused around introducing their children to nature. Louv makes some great points that if we don't save some space now for our children to play unstructured in, they will never have that bond with nature, and will not pass that bond on to their children... so, in essence, our connection with nature, this deep tie that has been there through the ages, could be lost within a generation.
Sadly, it took me ages to get through this book. Well, just to get through the first half. It's not that it isn't well-written, it is. And, I agreed with most of what he was saying.... and I think that is what the problem was. I already understood his point, and felt the same way, so I didn't need to be convinced. The latter part of the book was full of new (to me) information and ideas, so I was able to breeze through the end. However, despite this being a long read for me, I think this is a book that should be read by families everywhere, by school administrators everywhere, and by everyone that has, works with, or influences children. We need to give our children a chance to get to know the natural world in which they live, allow them to become connected to it, discover a love for it, and pass that love down to their children. It's the only fighting chance we have at stopping ourselves from destroying this planet on which we live. So get your children outside. Let them explore, imagine and notice that world that surrounds them. Maybe you will learn a little something as well.... I know I always do. Pin It Now!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post...we have been trying to take Dmitri outside daily. It's easy to do when we've had such beautiful weather. On colder days...I'm a wimp!