Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
Child advocacy expert Richard Louv’s timely masterpiece discusses what its title promises – pulling the younger generation out of their wired-up world and getting them to start mingling with nature and loving nature.
Citing research studies, and with his persuasive writing and anecdotes, he raises the alarm on why kids these days are experiencing a rising health problems. These include obesity and depression and other physical and emotional problems associated with lack of activity and interaction in nature. And, a lack of apathy for nature is one of the main reasons environment activists are now scrambling to mend the injuries inflicted on our earth.
Having analysed the problems, he offers solutions on fixing the broken bond between nature and people. While some recommendations, such asthose pertaining to the education system and building development projects, may not be directly applicable to Singapore, the small reminders do make the difference.
Louv advises how to harness the best of Mother Nature to your child’s benefit Let your kids have unstructured time in the natural world, he says, whether it’s a garden, park or nature reserve. Be more enthusiastic about the natural world and less suspicious. Say “pay attention” instead of ”be careful.” Teach general observation skills, from sitting still to watch a deer cross a meadow (in our case, a dog crossing a park) or a bird in the garden, to assessing the surroundings – slippery rocks, thin branches, and venomous snakes. Such lessons from nature not only impart observation skills and cautiousness in place of over-dependence on a parent’s protection, but far exceed all the preaching by schools and public campaigns to care for the earth.
Even for adults, this book will re-open our senses to the truth, that we need nature. Nature is our tonic — simply spending more time outdoors does wonders to our health and knowledge. In return, we have the obligation to care for nature. After all, even the greatest gadgets can’t save a planet ailing from pollution.
Horrible Science: Nasty Nature by Nick Arnold
Genre: Juvenile literature
Don’t be fooled by the title of the book. There is nothing gruesome illustrated nor is the content gory per se. Horrible Science is a series written to encourage primary school children to appreciate Science in all its quirkiness. This particular volume “Nasty Nature” imparts to readers facts about plants, animals, the environment and Mother Nature in all her wondrous glory. The contents are mostly in line with what schools are teaching in their curriculum, but also contain little- known but fascinating answers to questions like “Why are vultures bald?”
This series is a best seller that has sold over four million copies in the UK, its country of origination. For good reason, it is also popular among many Singaporean parents, and its merits are discussed on Kiasu Parents (www.kiasuparents.com), a portal for parents to share and discuss teaching education for their children. This book engages readers with interesting graphics and humorous narration, putting on the finishing touches in the form of fun facts placed in nifty little boxes. Most of the time, those were facts I never knew.
Even as a 22-year-old reader, I enjoyed the book very much. It gives me a greater insight on the wonders of Mother Nature, because as a city dweller I hardly come into contact with nature. The information in the book are as rich as what one can find in National Geographic or Discovery Channel, but presented with a youthful edge to appeal to the younger crowd. Having tutored science to primary school students previously, I have recommended this book to my students to improve their knowledge about nature. The fact that it helps them develop a better understanding about Science was reflected in their improved grades.
– These book reviews first appeared in a lifestyle magazine