We live in an increasingly technological world. It has become commonplace to see people, oblivious to their surroundings, staring at a computer, swiping through screens on their phone, or speedily thumbing out texts to friends and family. I am as guilty as any when it comes to loving technology. I am a gadget guy that thoroughly appreciates how technology has made our lives easier. However, while technology has led us to be constantly connected digitally to one another, it has eroded our connectedness to nature.
A few years ago, I read Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv. The author coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” to describe how today’s children are much less connected to nature, and how he believes this is a contributor to obesity, attention deficit disorder, and depression. I remember finishing the book and thinking that it should be required reading for every parent of a young child. I still feel that way, and its influence helps me find the balance between being “plugged in” and “unplugged”.
In the spirit of Last Child in the Woods, I would like to highlight a couple of series, appropriate for elementary school students, that have recently come across my desk. I think they will help get kids interested and excited about getting out and exploring nature.
The Great Outdoors set is a fantastic introduction to many popular outdoor activities, with titles about Rock Climbing, Camping, Hunting, Fishing, Caving, and Kayaking/Rafting. Each title in the series features attractive photos, a glossary of terms, tips, informative captions, and factoids. Do you want to learn how to do an “Eskimo roll” in a kayak? Learn the history of the s’mores recipe? Debate the pros and cons of hunting? See what a mineral formation known as a “gypsum flower” looks like? Learn which lure or bait to use for different fish? It’s all here in this series.
Compared to The Great Outdoors series, you might think the Tough Guides series will discourage kids from going outside, as it deals with what to do when something goes wrong while in nature. However, kids will gather lots of information about the natural world while enjoying the danger and adventure aspect of the different scenarios. Each book in the series has a different habitat in which to survive, including a desert island, mountain, the Arctic/Antarctica, a desert, a rainforest, and an ocean.
Much like the Great Outdoors series, this series features eye-catching photography, a wealth of facts, and a well laid-out format. There are also valuable survival tips and entertaining stories of real people that survived harrowing situations. Safety is always stressed in the books, and there are many tips on how to be prepared for survival in each of the habitats.
Ponder this…kids in a 2002 study identified 25 percent more Pokemón characters than wildlife species at eight years old. (Balmfold, Clegg, Coulson and Taylor, 2002) If that isn’t reason enough to get more nature books into the hands of our children, then nothing is!
Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv. 2008. 9781565126053. Adult.
Camping (Great Outdoors), by Adeline Snyder. August 2012. 9781433970870. Gr 2-5.
Caving (Great Outdoors), by Maeve Sisk. August 2012. 9781433970917. Gr 2-5.
Fishing (Great Outdoors), by E.T. Weingarten. August 2012. 9781433970955. Gr 2-5.
Hunting (Great Outdoors), by Robert Kennedy Shea. August 2012. 9781433970993. Gr 2-5.
Kayaking and Rafting (Great Outdoors), by Raymond Harasimiw. August 2012. 9781433971037. Gr 2-5.
Rock Climbing (Great Outdoors), by A.J. Weingarten. August 2012. 9781433971075. Gr 2-5.
How to Survive in the Arctic and Antarctica (Tough Guides), by Louise Spilsbury. 9781448878666. August 2012. Gr 4-6.
How to Survive in the Desert (Tough Guides), by Angela Royston. August 2012. 9781448878673. Gr 4-6.
How to Survive in the Ocean (Tough Guides), by Louise Spilsbury. August 2012. 9781448878680. Gr 4-6.
How to Survive in the Rainforest (Tough Guides), by Angela Royston. August 2012. 9781448878697. Gr 4-6.
How to Survive on a Desert Island (Tough Guides), by Jim Pipe. August 2012. 9781448878703. Gr 4-6.
How to Survive on a Mountain (Tough Guides), by Louise Spilsbury. August 2012. 9781448878710. Gr 4-6.