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

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

No. 8730

by Richard Louv

"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. Hardcover. (353 pp.)

About the authorRichard Louv has been a columnist and member of the advisory board for Parents magazine and has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Christian Science Monitor. He is an adviser to the Ford Foundation's Leadership for a Changing World award program and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. He founded Connect for Kids, the largest child advocacy Web site. He writes a column for the San Diego Union-Tribune and is the author of six books.


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