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The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  180 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
What may happen now that so many more children are denied exposure to wilderness than at any other time in human history?
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 30th 1995 by Beacon Press (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 663)
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Erik Akre
Apr 09, 2016 Erik Akre rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: those who love children and the Earth
Shelves: human-ecology
I appreciate very much what this book attempts to do: Describe and explore the child's relationship to nature, and to the Earth. It becomes biography and autobiography, however, and in doing so somehow loses the edge of Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods, which to me is the quintessential piece on the subject. Nabhan does approach it with a personal touch, which I appreciate.

What I didn't like, and what I didn't quite get over through the entire book, was that its writing was not particularl
Jun 06, 2015 Primadonna rated it it was amazing
This is a deep book. I reflect a lot and have plenty of discussions with my partner and childhood friends while reading this book. It makes me remember my childhood and revisit the memories with a gained wisdom.
Jan 08, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
This series of essays provides rich description of the American Southwest---the geography, the native languages used to describe aspects of the local environs, etc. The authors make a good case for fostering connections between children and the nature from which we have all evolved. This book makes me want to move out to the woods with my boys, teach them to garden, learn the names of plants and animals that we routinely don't see (or simply just pass by, day in and day out). Our loss of connect ...more
May 02, 2016 Jo rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
Pairs Well With: How to Raise a Wild Child

I enjoyed the topic a lot, and the essays are well-written. As a Christian I had to sift out a LOT of both evolutionary theory and native spiritism; besides this, in general the essays tended to dwell on problems without pointing to many solutions. In the end, though, I came away inspired to give my kids as rich an exposure to creation as I can.
Apr 29, 2016 Amy rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A collection of essays about children's need to be outside. I liked what he said about enclosed wilderness spaces--that was what I enjoyed and what my kids seek out now. The book was written a generation ago, and I didn't find it timeless enough not to wish it considered a world where the internet and helicopter parenting affected children's outdoor time.
Jun 26, 2009 Kristen rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fic, nature, childhood
This is a quick read, somewhat dry, yet quite sensible. Gary Paul Nabhan and Stephen Trimble use life experiences to portray the importance of wilderness in children's lives. The tactility of nature is important in the education of science where levels of knowledge can be acquired hands-on. Biology, animal science, ecology, geology, and geography are some of the major fields of study surfaced outdoors. It is necessary to take kids away from books, outside of the classroom, and away from the tele ...more
Jan 19, 2012 Hannah rated it did not like it
One author purports in this book that wild experiences in nature are inherently more valuable than urban experiences that apparently only rob children of what they really need to become good environmentalists: time outdoors. I agree with this in many ways, but the finger-pointing narrative doesn't address research that implies that environmental literacy is dependent on a variety of experiences as a child, not just exposure to nature. He seems to think that just playing outside as a kid is enoug ...more
Richard Kravitz
Jul 30, 2016 Richard Kravitz rated it really liked it
An even more crucial topic now with the debilitating effects of the Internet and the toxic use of smart phones among young people.
Oct 07, 2009 Kim rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
I really enjoyed and got so much from the this book. While much of it seems so intuitive, it brought me back to the place from which I want to be -- the outdoors. I think we forget how crucial our outdoor and natural spaces are to children, especially in our new "fear-filled" society. I wish my children could experience the boundless neighborhood woods like I did as a child; I know that's not really a possibility anymore. But this book reminded me that there is still plenty we can be doing to en ...more
Charlie Miksicek
Nov 18, 2015 Charlie Miksicek rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This was a hard book to read because I know Gary and I know what he was going through at about this time.
Apr 04, 2010 Katielin317 rated it really liked it
As one review reads, this is definitely a book that may spin up some questions in your mind, and not so many answers, but that is what I loved about it! It is a book of essays from two naturalists who are fathers and wrote of their experiences watching their children interact with nature. It definitely inspires one to look deeper into the experiences that are being given to their children. Are we letting are children get our hands dirty? Are we leaving them alone in nature and let them make thei ...more
Apr 24, 2013 Brenda rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
I really did enjoy this book. It is comprised of essays about how children relate to nature. One of the interesting things that was mentioned was how adults seem to look at the big picture (think Grand Canyon) while the children were looking at the small things (think pebbles, feathers, etc.) It also talked about how children in rural areas are more connected to nature than children in more urban areas which makes sense. This was non-fiction but not dry. It was quite readable.
Sep 30, 2012 Matthew rated it really liked it
Good book, great concepts. I enjoyed Nabhan's essays more than Trimble's, but an excellent exploration of the importance of special places to child development. Also some interesting reflections on parenting. I think immediately of my own childhood and the many wonderful places my father showed me. Lots of great works cited and I use this book to key me into other place-based child development studies.
Aug 03, 2016 Erika rated it really liked it
more reflective and less informational/inspiring then I found myself expecting or wishing for. but it did add motivation to this growing desire to acknowledge and periodically detach from sidewalks and completely human-dominated areas. an idea of wildness and longing together.
Jun 05, 2011 Jennifer marked it as to-read
Shelves: non-fiction
I saw this book in Arches National Park book store and immediately thought of Shalane...the complete title is, The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places.
I'm sad that I didn't get the chance to say goodbye to you Shalane!! I will miss you!
Dec 31, 2007 Beth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature, favorites
This book made a real difference in my connection to my environment with and without my children. I bought several copies and distributed them to friends. This book is for all age groups, not just children.
Deirdre Keating
Jun 28, 2008 Deirdre Keating rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A library check-out 2007 that I mostly just skimmed. Didn't seem very useful since I presume it is preaching to the choir. But I'm curious why Lori disliked it so (Lori?).
Aug 15, 2013 Tara rated it liked it
An interesting read for anyone interested in sharing nature with (your) kids. Some great quotes are found throughout.
Feb 10, 2011 Patricia rated it liked it
Great read for those with kidlings. It makes sense for kids of all ages. We all need open spaces to run. xo
Jul 28, 2009 Kara rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
Such a great book. I encourage anyone with children (who love the outdoors and exploring) to read this book.
Sep 01, 2008 Lauren rated it it was ok
Shelves: teacherly-books
Skimmed for content... found some convincing passages for a child's need to explore, roam, discover...
Feb 08, 2012 Nina rated it really liked it
Great book that talks about the importance of children having a connection with the natural world.
Becky Wandell
Jun 29, 2009 Becky Wandell rated it it was amazing
The environmental educator in me loved this book and its multiple perspectives.
Liz Meissner
Jan 14, 2008 Liz Meissner rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents
I loved this book. I based my master's thesis on it. Great for all parents.
May 10, 2010 Amy rated it it was amazing
So important --why we all need wildness...
Jenny Lee
Nov 04, 2008 Jenny Lee rated it really liked it
The importance of playing outside!
Samantha Bradshaw
Samantha Bradshaw marked it as to-read
Aug 29, 2016
Kevin Irby
Kevin Irby marked it as to-read
Aug 28, 2016
Claudia.Joyce rated it really liked it
Aug 25, 2016
Scott marked it as to-read
Aug 18, 2016
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Gary Paul Nabhan is an internationally-celebrated nature writer, seed saver, conservation biologist and sustainable agriculture activist who has been called "the father of the local food movement" by Utne Reader, Mother Earth News, Carleton College and Unity College. Gary is also an orchard-keeper, wild forager and Ecumenical Franciscan brother in his hometown of Patagonia, Arizona near the Mexica ...more
More about Gary Paul Nabhan...

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“play has become too domesticated and regimented while playgrounds themselves have become more and more barren. May today are devoid of vegetation with which to form nests, shelters, wands, dolls, or other playthings...These concerns are best explored in a heterogeneous habitat, where several secret niches are harbored, the kinds that can no longer be found on prefabricated metal and plastic jungle gym.” 4 likes
“Solitude takes time, and caregivers to children have no time. Our children demand attention and need care. They ask questions and parents must answer. The number of decisions that go into a week of parenting astonishes me. Women have known for centuries what I have just discovered: going to work every day is far easier than staying home raising children...thoughtful parenting requires time to think, and parents of young children do not have time to think...One middle-aged female writing student spoke to me of feeling she lacked the freedom to "play hooky in nature"; it is an act of leisure men indulge in while women stay at home, keeping domestic life in order. Men often can justify poking around in the woods as a part of their profession, or as part of an acceptably manly activity like hunting or fishing. Women, for generations circumscribed by conventional values, must purposefully create opportunities for solitude, for exploration of nature or ideas, for writing.” 3 likes
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