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Last Child in the Woods

Myers, Caldino, Lopez, Mercado, Ramos

Gwendolyn Alley

English 2

November 1, 2012

Group Book Review

            Nature-deficit disorder is becoming one of the most recent issues in our society today and people are not taking it seriously. Nature-deficit disorder is the lack of connection between children and nature. In the book Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv explains and gives examples of people’s personal experiences trying to prevent this disorder affecting their children. One example comes from John Rick, a middle-school math teacher, who was reading an article from his new community’s newsletter about the “illegal use” of open spaces. Rick recalls, “Unlike where we had lived before, kids were actually out there running around in the trees, building forts, and playing with their imaginations” (27).

            Louv continues on with the effects of nature-deficit disorder and what it does to children. Some of the effects are: attention disorders, depression, obesity, aggression, stress, sicknesses, and the inability to adapt to life’s unpredictable turns. Louv writes, “Nature is often overlooked as a healing balm for the emotional hardships in a child’s life” (49). Science thinks that if a medication prescribed to an adult can help them, that same medication can help that of a child. The side effects of medication are more aggressive and intense to a growing body of a child, than to that of an adult body. Louv says that nature can be a form of medication to children than making them drugged out. Tom Delate says “…a growing awareness of and screening for depression by pediatricians and assumptions that the effectiveness experienced by adults using antidepressant medications will translate to children and adolescents” (49).

            As a group, we all agreed that this was a good book. The book included a broad variety of examples that could relate to diverse communities. Although the book was repetitive, it gave you a full understanding of how serious this disorder is becoming. We agreed that Louv did an excellent job giving us plenty of examples and research on how it affects children. We have realized what nature has to offer, so that when we decide to have kids we can keep this disorder in mind.

            We recommend Last Child in the Woods to parents, and people who are involved with child development. Parents should realize that there is a difference between organized play outside and random play outside. It should give them a clearer understanding of why nature is so important to the development of children. We highly suggest parents should read this, because it will show them that nature can lower the issues of depression, obesity, aggression, etc. And therefore reconsider thinking that nature is a “scary place” and allow them to be one with their natural surroundings.  


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November 2, 2012 · 1:02 am

Chapters 5-9 In these chapter’s Richard Louv concentrates on the importance of senses and ways to challenge them. Louv believes that, “Children need nature for the healthy development of their senses, and, therefore for learning and creativity” (54). How many times have you tried to calm a baby down and you play a CD of lullabies? Have you ever thought of going outside and have the baby listen to the birds instead while holding him? I believe this would be more efficient because the child would be able to smell fresh air and hear the birds and eventually calm down and fall asleep. Louv also talks about how instead of going out to walk around the neighborhood it would be better to go out to places that are not surrounded by buildings and houses and rather by trees and flowers and fresh air. It would stimulate our senses of smell, sight, and hearing and eventually will create a different perspective of nature and life. He also gives us examples of tree house and how nowadays our “tree houses” are not made by us but rather fabricated and bought at your local store. Nature deficit disorder is widely growing among our children and its time to do something about it. We need to teach our children that we must take care of our environment and appreciate it and that there are many things out there that they can have fun not just playing video games and watching TV.

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Out Door stuff for kids

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The Last Child in the Woods Chapters 10-14: 

Chapter 10: The Bogeyman Syndrome Redux

Man’s heart away from nature, becomes hard; [the Lakota] knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too.

–Luther Standing Bear (c 1868-1939)

            Fear strikes the heart of most parents. We have become “scared stupid” by the media. “The most disturbing finding of [the Duke Well-Being Index] report is not violence or abductions, but ‘that children’s health has sunk to its lowest point in the 30-year history of the Index, driven largely by an alarming rise in the number of children who are obese and a smaller decline in child mortality rates than achieved in recent years” (128). And fear causes parents to keep kids indoors away from the physical and emotional activity that they need most.

The Bogeyman Syndrome: is fear of nature

Chapter 11: Don’t Know Much About Natural History: Education as a Barrier to Nature

 To a person uninstructed in natural history, his country or seaside stroll is a week through a gallery filled with wonderful works of art, nine-tenths of which have their faces turned to the wall.

 –Thomas Huxley

            How do we EXPERIENCE nature in OUR area? How can we make nature a PRIORITY in the education of our future kids?

  • Challenge your children’s schools and educators.
  •  Be proactive, get fellow parents involved in educating themselves on what your children are learning.
  • Get children to want to be outside and not fear being outside.

Chapter 12: Where Will Future Stewards of Nature Come From

[What is the] extinction of a condor to a child who has never seen a wren

-Naturalist Robert Michael Pyle

Richard Louv says “organizers of nature activities should strive to make the experience as unorganized as possible — but still meaningful” let children explore and discover on their own (151).

 Chapter 13: Bringing Nature Home

It is not half so important to know as to feel when introducing a young child to the natural world.

-Rachel Carson

Learning vs. Experience:

  • “If getting our kids out into nature is a search for perfection, or is one more chore, then the belief in perfection and the chore defeats the joy.” (Page 164)
  • “The main thing is to find or rediscover our own sense of joy, excitement, and mystery.” (Page 166)
  • “Your job isn’t to hit them with another Fine Educational Opportunity, but to turn them on to what a neat world we live in” (Deborah Churchman, American Forests, Page 172) 
  • “One parent’s hike is another’s forced march, and the same is true for children. Parents must walk a fine line between presenting and pushing the kids to the outdoors. (Page 171)

 Chapter 14: Scared Smart: Facing the Bogeyman

The Most Important Thing Parents Can Do:

  • “Appropriate Trust” ~ Instead of teaching our kids only about the evils of the world, teach them about the people who they can trust if they get into trouble. “Kids want the information that’s going to enable them to protect themselves.” (Page 184)
  • “Self-esteem, self-confidence, close relationship with parents” ~ These are the ones who are less likely to get victimized. Ask any kid who gets bullied. Bullies pick on the ones who don’t appear as confident as the rest. If you are out in nature and come upon a tree trunk that is acting as a bridge to the other side of a creek, are you more likely to get hurt if you are scared while walking on the trunk, being timid and unsure of your steps? I think so. If you are confident as you walk, you will have more steady balance.
  • “Love and time” ~ “The time we give our children builds their self-esteem and self-confidence, and this gives them armor they can take with them the rest of their lives.” (Page 185)

Hyperawareness in Nature: Enhancing Instinctual Confidence:

  • “Hyperawareness” ~ Being told to “pay attention” instead of to “be careful”. Hyperawareness is instructive instead of reacting to a feeling of fight or flight.
  • “Nature Smart” ~ This is like being “street smart”. Street smart people know how to survive on the street because they have been around the block. Nature smart people have been around the tree enough to know how to survive in natural environments. 

How to Overcome the Bogeyman Syndrome:  STOP FEARING NATURE, expose yourself to it and fall in love with it. Be one with nature, be connected.



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October 25, 2012 · 6:34 am

Are we this out of touch with nature?

Are we this out of touch with nature?

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Its more simple than you realize

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October 24, 2012 · 4:40 am