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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

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  11,803 ratings  ·  1,774 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, 310 pages
Published March 17th 2006 by Algonquin Books (first published 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. 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
Apr 29, 2008 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
Nicole Johns
Feb 12, 2008 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
Mar 11, 2008 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
Feb 02, 2009 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
Oct 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The author had me at, "Nature offers healing for a child living in a destructive family or neighborhood." As this is true of my own experience and to this day I revel in the healing properties of walking through woods.

"Given the chance, a child will bring the confusion of the world to the woods, wash it at the creek, turn it over to see what lives on the unseen side of that confusion." I made fairy dells. I still imagine fairies when I see toadstools in the woods.

I will be forever grateful to
Mar 28, 2009 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
Sep 16, 2011 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
Patrick Henry
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Yes, how true!" I found myself agreeing with the author' illustrations time and again. For my part, I would never challenge his premise is that kids belong outside. But if someone was skeptical, they would not find Mr. Louv providing the evidence to be convincing.

But who cares? He is right! How our culture of coddling has drained childhood of the thrills and risk of exploring and discovery. I realize even now all the adventure I found in the ravine behind our rental house, and am richer for it
Dec 02, 2010 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
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
Jul 10, 2008 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
S. R.
Jul 04, 2008 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
Mar 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Lots of great information, which I appreciated

After reading, I am hovering somewhere between joyous inspiration and the sadness of despair.

I agree fervently with the premise that we as humans need more immersion in nature, but sometimes the prospect seems daunting and overwhelming.

Still, I come away resolved to be more intentional, more purposeful to interact with my environment and to enjoy nature even this week.

Also to up my game and get serious about incorporating nature study in our homesch
Apr 09, 2011 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 “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 unn
Carrie Lundell
Dec 04, 2008 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.
Anna Mussmann
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Reading this book made me more grateful than ever to look up and see my children playing in the bushes. We love our yard, but I’ve tended to take outdoor time for granted--after all, I grew up digging holes in the dirt, exploring tidepools, and going camping with my family. It’s both startling and horrifying to be reminded that thousands of American children have no idea what such a life is like, not just because they are cooped up in cities but because they have been indirectly taught to avoid ...more
Frances Eastol
Feb 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this for my dissertation, very interesting but wouldn’t recommend for light reading or for pleasure lol
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: environment
I did not enjoy this book although the idea of kids spending more time with nature is laudable and incontrovertible. I found the book a little preachy and poorly written. Reading the prose felt like I was reading a series of presentation slides some of which were grammatically incorrect.

The author's message that kids have too many electronics and marginal time communing with nature is certainly true for most. However it shouldn't require 300 pages to make this point. The book is formulaic in na
Sep 08, 2008 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
I stand right on the edge of being the generation talked about in this book. I am young enough that I can remember a time without a computer in the house, where I wasn't hooked up to the internet the way I am now. I can remember a time before wireless phones, caller ID, cell phones, and all of that. I'm old enough to be a bit concerned when I see kids spending all of their time in social gatherings on tablets, but also young enough that I'm sure I was That Kid only on a cellphone rather than a t ...more
Sarah Howard
Oct 25, 2019 rated it liked it
While the information was very insightful and made me want to be engaged more in nature and not be just a spectator, the chapters at times felt disjointed and some information almost out of place with the rest of the information. Overall I learned a lot about getting back into nature and it’s overall healthy effects on our bodies both physically, mentally and emotionally.
Tony Cohen
May 11, 2008 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
Oct 29, 2007 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
Mar 23, 2009 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
Bambi Moore
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: education
The best thing about this book is the title and quote from a child who said he likes to play inside because "that's where all the electrical outlets are." As a Christian my motivation for the children in my life to know the wonder of God's creation, is in order to glorify Him more, give Him praise for all that borrows life from Him, and see His great power and might in all of creation. Not bond with an iceberg (yes it really said that somewhere). There were some interesting studies regarding ch ...more
Oct 27, 2007 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
Denise Spicer
Sep 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Discussion of why our children no longer play outside, the health (physical and mental) benefits of interacting with nature and ways to encourage kids and communities to reconnect with and the outdoor world. Lots of anecdotal comments to prove his points along with the legal aspects that must be considered nowadays. The author gives examples of natural schools and urban wild spaces. The author does show his political and philosophic biases (environmentalism, feminism, socialism) but overall this ...more
Oct 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 26, 2008 rated it liked it
An interesting commentary on how our children experience the outdoors, and the effects of that experience.
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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.

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“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.” 51 likes
“The woods were my Ritalin. Nature calmed me, focused me, and yet excited my senses.” 47 likes
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