Embracing Nature

Confucius wrote, "“Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it.” 

"Last Child in the Woods" by Richard Louv was first published in 2005 and is still a valuable resource for parents.  Sadly, many children spend the majority of their free time in front of the television, playing games on their DS or listening to their iPods. I am not saying that technology is "bad." Rather, I believe that it's important to find a balance between the technological world and the natural world.  For that reason, I would like to encourage each family to take one hour each day and spend it outside.  If you don't have a back yard visit one of the wonderful parks in your neighborhood.  Teaching children to love nature is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give your child and the only thing it will cost you is time.  

Last Child in The Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder Richard Louv.

In this influential work about the staggering divide between children and the outdoors, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today's wired generation-he calls it nature-deficit-to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression. Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond-and they are right in our own backyard.

 

Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature  Nicola Davies 

This gorgeously illustrated volume of poetry, sprinkled with facts and fun things to do, sows an early love for nature in all its beauty and wonder. The buzz of bees in summertime. The tracks of a bird in the winter snow. This beautiful book captures all the sights and sounds of a child's interactions with nature, from planting acorns or biting into crisp apples to studying tide pools or lying back and watching the birds overhead. No matter what's outside their windows, city streets or country meadows, kids will be inspired to explore the world around them. Written by award-winning author Nicola Davies and illustrated by Mark Hearld, a breathtaking new talent in children's books, Outside Your Window is a stunning reminder that the natural world is on our doorstep waiting to be discovered.

Step Gently Out  Helen Frost 

Stunning close-up photography and a lyrical text implore children to look more closely at the world around them. Be still, and watch a single blade of grass. An ant climbs up to look around. A honeybee flies past. What would happen if you walked very, very quietly and looked ever so carefully at the natural world outside? You might see a cricket leap, a moth spread her wings, or a spider step across a silken web. In simple, evocative language, Helen Frost offers a hint at the many tiny creatures around us. And in astonishing close-up photographs, Rick Lieder captures the glint of a katydid's eye, the glow of a firefly, and many more living wonders just awaiting discovery. Fascinating facts about all the creatures pictured may be found at the end.

All the World  Liz Garton Scanlon 

Follow a circle of family and friends through the course of a day from morning till night as they discover the importance of all things great and small in our world, from the tiniest shell on the beach, to warm family connections, to the widest sunset sky. Pictures and rhyming text celebrate a family's day spent going to the beach, shopping at the market, eating at a restaurant and spending the evening with the rest of the extended family.

Vincent Van Gogh and The Colors of The Wind  Chiara Lossani

A vibrantly illustrated biography of Vincent van Gogh based on letters he sent to his brother Theo. Vincent van Gogh had one true teacher: Nature. Nature taught him about light, shadows, shape, and colors. And he had one single appraiser: his brother Theo. Today Vincent van Gogh is one of the most famous painters in the world.

 


Olivia's Birds: Saving the Gulf  Olivia Bouler.

Devastated by the Gulf oil spill, 11-year-old Bouler wrote a letter to Audubon, promising to send every single donor to the recovery cause one of her own bird paintings. The idea took flight, and Olivia proceeded to send out more than 500 paintings, many of which are captured in this lavish picture book.

 Miss Rumphius  Barbara Cooney.

A beloved classic is lovelier than ever! Barbara Cooney's story of Alice Rumphius, who longed to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful, has a timeless quality that resonates with each new generation. The countless lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine are the legacy of the real Miss Rumphius, the Lupine Lady, who scattered lupine seeds everywhere she went.

Brother Sun, Sister Moon: Saint Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Creatures Katherine Paterson

In Brother Sun, Sister Moon , award-winning author Katherine Paterson reimagines a hymn of praise originally written by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1224. Illuminated with the exquisite illustrations of cut-paper artist Pamela Dalton, this picture book offers a stunningly beautiful tribute to nature.

 

Crinkleroot's Guide to Giving Back to Nature  Jim Arnosky. [On Order]

Jim Arnosky's beloved nature expert, Crinkleroot, is back! Award-winning children's book artist and naturalist Jim Arnosky features his iconic character in this fun and informative picture book. Crinkleroot, who was "born in a tree and raised by bees," guides young readers through the natural world, taking them on a journey through the seasons, and giving examples of things they can do in their own backyards to protect the environment.

The Everything Kids Nature Book: Create Clouds, Make Waves, Defy Gravity, and Much More!  Kathiann M. Kowalski.

Explores the different natural habitats; forests, rain forests, grasslands, deserts, cold regions, oceans and rivers and the plant and animal life that exists in each. Includes related activities and word lists.

Discovering Nature with Young Children  Ingrid Chalufour

Field-tested across the country, this comprehensive curriculum expands and extends the role science has traditionally played in the early childhood classroom. This book explores the wide-ranging elements that make up the natural world around us. The curriculum replaces simple fact-feeding practices with the development of long-term scientific reasoning, including literacy skills and numeracy skills, such as hypothesis, inference, prediction, and estimation.

 

The Giant Encyclopedia of Science Activities for Children 3 to 6: More than 600 Science Activities Kathy Charner

Over 600 theme-based activities, organized by theme and using simple household materials, help children discover that science is in everything they do. 100 drawings

The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and The End of Nature-Deficit Disorder  Richard Louv.

Louv, who introduced the term "nature-deficit disorder" in his 2005 bestseller Last Child in the Woods, continues his message of the extreme importance of a connection with nature. To this end he describes the "Nature Principle" which says that reconnecting to nature is paramount to our survival as a species. Advocating a "re-naturing" of everyday life, he proposes seven concepts: 1) Technology must be balanced by nature; the more technology you use, the more nature you need. 2) The mind/body/nature connection makes you healthier.  3) Having both experience in nature and knowledge of technology will make us more intelligent and productive. 4) Community will come to include all living things when nature and technology are balanced. 5) Natural history will be as important as human history. 6) Biophilic design will connect people to nature, save energy and make people more productive. 7) Motivated people will conserve and also create natural habitats.

 

Places to Visit

Parks in Harris County

Jessie H. Jones Nature Center

Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Websites

Children & Nature Network  [Richard Louv, chairman and co-founder].

Connecting Kids to Nature  PBS [Richard Louv, contributor]

Let's Go Outside U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

 

Richard Louv." The Writers Directory. Detroit: St. James Press, 2011. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 21 May 2012.