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

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  5,828 ratings  ·  1,179 reviews
In this influential work about the staggering divide between children and the outdoors, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today's wired generation, he calls it nature-deficit, to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.
Last Child in the Woods is the fi...more
Kindle Edition, 316 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2005)
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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.

Full review here..
Feb 24, 2008 Nicole rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Dec 02, 2010 Becca rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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.
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 “parents and educators� 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 un...more
Apr 15, 2009 Meredith rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 07, 2007 Kim rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Jun 24, 2014 Ken-ichi is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature

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
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

I loved this book! Thinking objectively though, if you're not a total nature lover you probably won't love it as much as this grown-up Tomboy did. Nevertheless, it is a must-read for anyone with children. I love nature and am so on board with children's need to be out in nature and to learn in and from nature. This book has opened my eyes to what a difference nature can make not just in how children are physically, but how they develop emotionally and mentally as well. Lots of research...more
Erica - Bonner Springs Library
Oct 11, 2010 Erica - Bonner Springs Library rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents, teachers, children's librarians
After attending a lecture by a law professor who is interested in land use and how cities are planned and how this effects children, I decided I need to read this book. It's a bit dense but listening to it as an audiobook has made the material fascinating and quite enjoyable. Though I'll admit at times I had to take a break and come back to the audiobook. Some areas of the book were more dense than others and I'm hesitant to recommend it to friends.

All too often I see kids in the library who do...more
For centuries poets, inventors, and spiritualists have considered nature the best place to go to heal, for inspiration and to escape the stress of society. The idea that nature is a place of solitude and peace is nothing new but, in recent years, scientists and psychologists have started to study how nature, or the lack of it, affects a child's health. Children today are constantly overstimulated by TV, video games, and computers. Schools are pushing for more classes and less recess. Homework is...more
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Richard Louv (born 1949) is a journalist and author of seven books about the connections between family, nature and community. His most recent 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 The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age Childhood's Future

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“The woods were my Ritalin. Nature calmed me, focused me, and yet excited my senses.” 25 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.” 24 likes
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