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BOOK REVIEW: LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS
BY RICHARD LOUV
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Have you ever read a book that actually changed your thinking? Have you read a book that is so upsetting and logical that it’s as terrifying as the downfall of the economy?
LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS should be required reading for every American. We are losing more than money in the stock market, we are losing are understanding of relating to nature and to each other. Because of our focus on technology, we have lost our focus on the exploration of nature.
Because of ticks, we are fearful to let our children explore in the woods. Due to the over-abundance of lawsuits, we don’t allow children or adults explore, climb trees, play in the dirt, follow the bugs, and most importantly, understand the world around them.
Yes, I read this book for a class and did not want to enjoy it. I really wanted this to be a dry required reading activity rather than a book that could change how I view the world and how I live.
What startled me the most was our emphasis in today’s culture on not allowing failure. When I was a child, I remember lugging lumber up a tree to build my tree house. Yes, it was a fairly feeble attempt at the dream house in my mind. But it was my own exploring. It was my attempt and inept ability to create. But I learned from that structural disaster. That seldom happens today.
People actually buy kits to build these perfectly made accommodations in our safe backyards. What are we losing though is by not allowing children to explore, to build the structure without steady beams, to engineer the manner in which you have to transport the lumber up into the tree, the planning you have to do to plan for all the nails, not to mention the number of times that you missed the nail with the hammer, and the thinking and problem solving to actually build the tree house. Even if it doesn’t look like your dream creation, what did you learn by daily fixing and adjusting your structure?
Another element of this book is a question that so many of the older generation have had about ADHD children. Why weren’t there ADHD children in their generation? Could it be that many children then grew up out doors, exploring nature, building forts, digging in the dirt, following bugs, and knowing all the people on their blocks? Could this all be related?
I know that I lived in an overprotected world of nature and that because of this, I now feel that I know very little about nature. However, I am willing to learn and plan to spend more time making my little contact with nature better for future generations.
Somehow, we have turned our children not into explorers or problem solvers, but sometimes their most common interaction is with a computer. Is that what we want for our children?
I remember as a parent being fearful of allowing my children to explore the front yard when a child predator was abducting children. I also remember hearing about lawsuits where children were exploring without the owner’s permission, somehow were hurt, and the owner’s of the land had to pay for the damages.
What has happened to us?
The original astronauts would not have been successful without use of their problem solving skills and constantly attempting to refine and re-engineer a mechanical malfunction that possibly saved their lives.
There now is a newer edition of LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS. It needs to be required reading for everyone. Also, go out and become a child again in exploring the world around you. Follow a creek, track an animal, don’t be afraid to take chances in nature, you might just learn something.
REVIEWED BY TERI DAVIS
DO NOT REPRINT
WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER, TERI DAVIS
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