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

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  6,740 ratings  ·  1,266 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 with Other Essays on Conservation from ... by Aldo LeopoldThe Lorax by Dr. SeussThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanDesert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Best Environmental Books
17th out of 539 books — 638 voters
A Sand County Almanac with Other Essays on Conservation from ... by Aldo LeopoldWalden by Henry David ThoreauA Walk in the Woods by Bill BrysonDesert Solitaire by Edward AbbeyPilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
Best Nature Books
23rd out of 357 books — 292 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 3 of 5 stars
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
Nell
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
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
Keith
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
Tim
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
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
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 2 of 5 stars
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
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
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
Jeffrey Otto
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
Meredith
Apr 15, 2009 Meredith rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommended to Meredith by: Stephanie
Shelves: parenting, library
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
Betsy
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
S. R.
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
Tony Cohen
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 4 of 5 stars
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
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
Ken-ichi
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
Lynne
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
Brittany
Jul 20, 2009 Brittany rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
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
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
Kirei
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
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.
Andree
I doubt there is a topic that Louv has failed to consider in his thesis that children suffer from nature deficit disorder. It was a wonderfully informative read but it became tedious in the last fifty pages. It is full of research, notes, anecdotal stories and observations. I have many notes from the Kindle to organize and many ideas which I need to follow. This is apparently The Book to read on the topic of nature and children. I recommend reading it in order to gain your bearings and decide wh ...more
Dave
This is an important subject but he doesn't pay much attention to the root of the problem and most of the studies and things he uses to prove his point should really just be common sense. People already know that disconnection from nature is making us crazy, unhealthy and depressed. What most of them don't know is why everything keeps heading in the wrong direction despite us wanting to change it. The real issue is business interests tied to the growth imperatives of the economic system and he t ...more
Sylvia
Richard Louv has written a great book about a problem he describes as "nature deficit" disorder. Essentially he sees the change in our culture in which children spend less time outside and he is greatly alarmed. I was interested in the book due to my interest in environmental ethics, and although I do not have children of my own, I too have often observed how my nieces and nephew and their friends seem to be inside a lot more than my sister and I ever did at their age. Louv does a great job of d ...more
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leeds steiner sch...: Last child in the woods discussion 1 6 Feb 01, 2013 09:25AM  
Nature disorde 1 34 Dec 09, 2007 12:05PM  
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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...
The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder Web of Life: Weaving the Values That Sustain Us Fly-Fishing for Sharks: An American Journey Childhood's Future America II

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“The woods were my Ritalin. Nature calmed me, focused me, and yet excited my senses.” 32 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.” 29 likes
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