Last Child in the Woods Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder
By Richard Louv
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2006
Over the last 30 years the relationship that children have with the natural world has changed dramatically. The divide that has formed between children and the outdoors and the environmental, social, psychological, and spiritual implications caused by this divide, is the subject of this book by Richard Louv. Last Child In the Woods combines research, interviews with children and professionals and anecdotal stories to demonstrate that contact with nature is necessary for healthy child (and adult) development. The author draws links between the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation with the rise of childhood obesity, attention deficit disorder, and depression. Louv argues that it is in our best interest, as well as in the best interest of children today to re-create the bond between child and nature. How today’s children respond to nature and how they raise their own children will shape the future of our environment, our cities, our homes and our daily lives.
Louv’s message struck a cord with me because the time I spent outside as a child has profoundly shaped my life and has served as the basis for all of the major choices I have made including where I live and what I do both professionally and recreationally. I would be a different person had I not spent as much time out side as a child. Nature remains for me a place of refuge, a place where I feel free from my troubles and a place that sparks my creativity. The question I pose after reading this book is; how can we as designers create spaces that can bridge the growing divide between child and nature and engage a generation of children who have been raised in a digital world?