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

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  7,986 Ratings  ·  1,420 Reviews
"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 def ...more
Paperback, 335 pages
Published March 17th 2006 by Algonquin Books (first published January 1st 2005)
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Silent Spring by Rachel CarsonA Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo LeopoldThe Lorax by Dr. SeussThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanDesert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Best Environmental Books
18th out of 579 books — 771 voters
A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo LeopoldWalden by Henry David ThoreauA Walk in the Woods by Bill BrysonPilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie DillardDesert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Best Nature Books
19th out of 474 books — 399 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Skylar Burris
This is typical sentence from Last Child in the Woods: "he offered no academic studies to support his theory; nonetheless his statement rang true." That about sums up this book: it's not empirical, but, nonetheless, it rings true'"more or less. Louv draws his conclusions far too widely and gives too much credit to what nature will do for kids, but the general idea rings true. Kids should play in nature '" not because (as Louv questionably implies) it will cure ADHD, make them better athletes, in ...more
Nicole
Feb 24, 2008 Nicole rated it liked it
Recommends it for: parents, educators, environmentalists, humans
Shelves: women-motherhood
I would give this a 3.5 rating if I was allowed.

After that caveat, I have to say that overall this book left me feeling sad, a little hopeless, nostalgic, grateful, and angry. I had a childhood spent outside; in the fields and woods behind our house and on camping and fishing trips with my Dad. I know how formative these experiences were to my personality, spirituality, politics, and attitude about so many things. I have always pictured my child/ren having a similarly intimate relationship with
...more
Keith
Apr 18, 2009 Keith rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
With its heart in the right place, this book needs an editor--it reads like a rambling, book-length review article. I don't dispute the message and there were nuggets of interest (how do we allow for rambunctious play that doesn't hurt habitat?). However, if I were against this or didn't believe the premise, I don't think Louv would have changed my mind. He doesn't makes a strong argument (the evidence is circumstantial and sentimental)--just a long one. You don't need to read this book to know ...more
Nell
Apr 11, 2008 Nell rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The idea that struck me the most is that it is not just good for children to be outside in the grass, in the trees, in the creeks, wandering and unstructured--it is vital, as necessary every day as is food, water, and sleep. The accounts of how disconnected today's society has become from nature were dispiriting, although there were also many examples of communities and schools striving to reconnect children to the natural world. I also enjoyed the arguments against several things that drive me ...more
Audrey
Apr 02, 2009 Audrey rated it really liked it
This book has been criticized because it doesn't really offer empirical evidence, but I think for those of us who spent time wandering the woods (we had 40 acres that I knew like the back of my hand) as kids, we know what a gift that outdoor time can be for kids. That's why this book is a must-read for parents and educators, I think -- to remind us of what's out there and possible and what we've forgotten. It may be that "nature" therapy can work as a form of behavior therapy for ADHD kids -- an ...more
Tim
Dec 04, 2011 Tim rated it it was amazing
What a significant piece of literature.

At first glance, and even through the first chapter, one could confuse Louv for an overaggressive hippie whose soul purpose is to let mankind wander barefoot while living solely off fruits and berries.

Instead, however, Louv has masterfully woven together monster topics such as parenthood, education, diet, relationships, and even religion--all in one book. This book should be read by all human beings, and I do not mean that in a hyperbolic way. At the very
...more
Betsy
Oct 05, 2009 Betsy rated it did not like it
Rarely do I quit a book - but I did so with this one. I get what Louv is saying - it would be fair to say he is preaching to the choir. I appreciate the real and rugged outdoors as well as unstructured outdoor play for children. I guess I'd rather read something that challenges my perspective. Unfortunately, that was not what forced me to put this book down. If the babyboomers (that is the author's generation)spent so much wonderful time running around in the undeveloped landscape, how did they ...more
Debbie
Charlotte Mason got it right. Children need the outdoors.

It turns out the outdoors also need children. Richard Louv points out the incongruity behind the environmental extremists who want to set aside nature without allowing mankind to interfere, and the fact that our children aren't experiencing nature first-hand, since they aren't getting the chance to play, live and explore the outdoors unencumbered by interfering adults. This, he says, results in children who have no love for nature and thus
...more
Mehrsa
Aug 13, 2008 Mehrsa rated it really liked it
I think every parent and educator should read this book or at least hear the thesis and give it some thought. The point is that children need nature--especially free play where they can roam and discover and create in the wild and that we, as a society have instilled too much fear of nature in our children and also outlawed a lot of free play and the changing landscape and culture have moved children into cities and away from farms.

The author also claims that this "nature-deficit disorder" is r
...more
Becca
Dec 02, 2010 Becca rated it it was ok
Recommended to Becca by: Homeschool Bookclub
This was another book that is based on a great idea that I believe in, but didn't hold my interest. I felt like the author kept leading me along, implying that there was something interesting or substantial coming ahead but it never arrived (at least, not in the first half of the book).

The book talks about how children don't have unstructured outdoor playtime anymore and what impact that may have on them. The author explores many different aspects of this, but everything in the book was anecdot
...more
Carrie Lundell
Dec 04, 2008 Carrie Lundell rated it it was amazing
I feel like this is a book every parent should read. Personally, I ate it up because he explained in words what I have always felt and wanted for my children. He does back up some of his ideas with research, but also with a lot of anecdotal evidence. I did a lot of underlining and I like to keep the book handy to remind me to make sure my kids get dirty during plenty of unstructured outdoor time.
Cynthia
Sep 27, 2008 Cynthia rated it it was amazing
This one is a must read for anyone with children of their own, children in their life, teachers... Actually this is for all humans who grew up with or without nature...
It shows the shift in how children were relating to the outdoors 40 years ago and how they are today. It explores the effects that technology and too much time inside is having on young lives and on the life of the planet.... It is hart warming and funny, it will bring you to tears and make you get outside yourself and take some
...more
S. R.
Jan 25, 2009 S. R. rated it really liked it
Now, any book that insists kids should be spending more time playing outside than in front of a screen is, in my case, preaching to the choir. I don't need to be convinced. I need data and ideas and backup.

Louv makes many interesting observations and provides some references to research that supports his claims, but not much in the way of in depth examinations of those studies. (I am a skeptic even when presented with data that backs up my beliefs.) I would have liked to see more of that, but ap
...more
Jeffrey Otto
Apr 09, 2011 Jeffrey Otto rated it did not like it
Do not let the title of this book deceive you. Your children do not suffer from "Nature-Deficit Disorder." In fact, Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, admits his unease with the appropriation of medical science jargon, but says that âœparents and educatorsâ understand the term very clearly.

Unfortunately, that alone does not justify such disingenuous, hyperbolized nomenclature. It does, however, set the tone nicely for his argument that the senses of young Americans are being unnat
...more
Arielle Walker
Oct 09, 2013 Arielle Walker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Sobering and inspiring in equal parts. A little too focused on the United States for me to totally relate (examples of canyons etc had to be translated in my mind into more familiar territory, which made it a slow read in the end) but overall this is a very necessary read.
Meredith
Apr 15, 2009 Meredith rated it did not like it
Recommended to Meredith by: Stephanie
Shelves: library, parenting
I can only echo what other reviewers have said. He brings up an important issue, but does a miserable job of it. Louv bases most of his arguments on "intuition" and terrible logic. The worst of his arguments is that

a)children with autism and ADHD can control their behavior and symptoms better when they're outside.
b)there's a lot more autism and ADHD than there used to be.
c)we don't play outside as much as we used to.
d)not playing outside CAUSES autism and ADHD.

?????

That's a characteristic argum
...more
Lynne
Oct 02, 2010 Lynne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm finding this book pretty tedious so far - he is preaching to the choir with me on this subject but it still feels like preaching. I'm looking forward to the second half, which I hope will spend more time on getting kids outside rather than all the reasons why we should and we don't.
...update since I wrote that part: it was due back to the library so I gave up on it after getting about 85% through. It never got much better for me, which is a shame because it's an important topic. It did make
...more
Tony Cohen
May 11, 2008 Tony Cohen rated it liked it
A book I strongly recommend, although I wish the information/research/extrapolation was farther long the developmental cycle. In a nutshell, the author coins the term 'nature deficit disorder' was some sort of easy-to-use term to somewhat anchor his still developing notions that children need unfettered time in un-organised nature. They need to be able to play in the margins, where the truly interesting stuff is happening (one study among scant few mentioned [for reasons that I will discuss late ...more
Kim
Dec 07, 2007 Kim rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Eco-minded parents
As a reader, a would-be environmentalist, and a mom, I felt like Richard Louv was writing this book for me. Like so many other former kids who remember lazy days of running free through the woods, wading in streams, and catching toads and butterflies, I am saddened by our current video-game culture in which kids have more electronics than they know what to do with and yet are utterly bored (I have a teenage nephew; I've seen it with my own eyes). I hate the fact that parents can no longer let th ...more
Joy
Oct 27, 2007 Joy rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up at Mt. Rainier while I was waiting in line to pay for a National Park passport for Rebecca. One of my biggest struggles living in Indiana has been having the knowledge that outdoor opportunities for Rebecca are much more limited in scope than that which I grew up with. The environmental ethic is much different and ultimately I want more for Rebecca than what she is being exposed to. I've tried, to the best of my ability, to provide her with opportunities and think given my ...more
Hayley DeRoche
I had to quit reading this 20% of the way in due to the following:

1) Constant boomer moaning about the way things were in the old days -- nevermind that this is his personal view of how things used to be, and maybe just MAYBE he's looking back with rose-tinted glasses. The future is not like the past. Therefore it is bad and scary.



2) Constant groaning about KIDS THESE DAYS, with their pokemans (I am not making this up, the man complains about a kid who can name Pokemon but not the names of Japan
...more
Ken-ichi
Sep 13, 2014 Ken-ichi rated it liked it
Shelves: nature
Pre-review

Just want to jot down my thoughts about this book BEFORE actually reading it. This book is constantly cited in discussions about connecting people to nature (which is kind of my thing) , but I've avoided reading it b/c I've also gotten the impression that it's not based on any kind of reasonable evidence, and by reasonable I mean quantitative, peer-reviewed research, and that's a problem for me. But, as Constance pointed out to me, the fact that it has traction in my circles is reason
...more
Brittany
Jul 20, 2009 Brittany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Parents
Recommended to Brittany by: Carrie Lundell
I loved this. I'm so inspired to spend more time with my kids outdoors, in the garden, and in natural places regularly. I'm still not completely convinced I should let my young children wander alone for hours, though there are a few chapters dedicated to overcoming parents' fears. (In fact, while the author deeply laments that children of this generation don't play in the woods all day unsupervised, he likes to keep his kids within view as well.) The author believes that spending time outdoors c ...more
Christina
Apr 04, 2008 Christina rated it liked it
Shelves: education
I mostly read the middle, since I don't need to be convinced that significant exposure to the natural world is essential for kids, or that there is less of it today than there was a generation or two ago. The back of the book promised to provide "solutions" and I wanted to see what those would be.

Lots of recommendations for what changes the author would like to see made to the school/education system (pre-k through college), to how we build our cities/towns, and to how our culture views the natu
...more
John
Jul 15, 2009 John rated it really liked it
The suppositions of this book most of us already acknowledge, a priori, to be true. We need only to be a little observant. Yet I was particularly startled to learn that "Nature Deficit Disorder" or the disconnect between Nature and our children is not solely confined to the continental United States but is a world wide pandemic with global repercussions. And frankly, this disconnect is quite scary!

Through a host of causes carefully constructed we discover that children are quickly losing their o
...more
Annalisa
Nov 19, 2008 Annalisa rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I found myself analyzing the way I interact with nature and the encouragement I give to my daughter to do the same. She's not really a play in the dirt kind of a girl and when she told me she was bored on a sunny afternoon a few weeks ago just after I started this book I told her to go outside and play. I looked out the window a few minutes later to see her lying in the grass reading and had to laugh that she wasn't technically playing outside. At least she was feelin ...more
Steve
Nov 15, 2011 Steve rated it liked it
Shelves: nature
On a gut level, I agree with so much of what this book argues. But it just doesn't make its case convincingly. So much is taken for granted rather than supported with research or evidence, not least the author's assumption that his type of childhood (and mine) is "normal" and everything else—particularly an urban childhood—is a problematic deviation from that. So it was a struggle to read the whole book through that filter of elitism and, at times, what smacked of baby boomer self-aggrandizement ...more
Mike
Jun 30, 2015 Mike rated it it was ok
I'm sure this is a really important book and I know its been really influential but it was a really dull read. It needed a good editor to cut out the bits where the author was lamenting his lost youth or shaking his stick at those terrible young people who simply weren't interested in all of the things that he was interested in back in the day. The last section appeared to be a random stream of consciousness, which was particularly hard to get through. The important message about disconnection w ...more
ABC
Jan 08, 2013 ABC rated it really liked it
Shelves: teens-and-adults
I actually give this three and a half stars. Four for being a topic I am interesting and its great title. Three because it never really grabbed me and did not tell me anything I did not really already know.

It did make me want to go out more and experience nature with my son, but did not really give many ideas on how to do so. A few ideas, but not many.

It did cite many studies and so forth, for example, kids enjoy a natural setting more than the typical blacktop playground. Also, it reminded me
...more
Jess
Nov 08, 2007 Jess rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
i found many excellent points throughout this book, and was especially interested to learn about the historical changes in the way we, as a society, spend time outdoors, and the value we place on it. i also really loved reflecting upon my own childhood, and outdoor experiences - particularly of summers on my grandparent's farm... treehouses, forts, gardening, walks in the woods, and lying the grass watching the clouds move by.
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leeds steiner sch...: Last child in the woods discussion 1 9 Feb 01, 2013 09:25AM  
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Richard Louv (born 1949) is a journalist and author of books about the connections between family, nature and community. His book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder (Algonquin), translated into 9 languages and published in 13 countries, has stimulated an international conversation about the relationship between children and nature.
More about Richard Louv...

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“The woods were my Ritalin. Nature calmed me, focused me, and yet excited my senses.” 39 likes
“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.” 37 likes
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