Book Review: ‘Last Child in the Woods’

For the past few months I’ve been trying to get through the book ‘Last Child in the Woods, saving our children from nature-deficit disorder’ by Richard Louv.

I’m on page 45. I want to like this book, I really really do. Everyone has told me that it’s fantastic. But I’m completely disappointed in it. Louv writes in a way that is condescending, judgmental and negative. It’s poorly written with flashbacks to Louv’s nostalgic childhood accompanied by opinion rather than facts and details.

This is NOT the last child in the woods! Unlike Louv, I’m an optimist!

Just a few pages into the book I realized that I have a different world view than the author.

Here’s an example. In one paragraph Louv writes about his friend Nick, who thinks that fish should be caught and eaten.

Louv writes:

“I believe that a fish should be caught and most of the time, released. Nick believes that violence is inevitable, that suffering is redemptive, and that a father must teach his children about the harshness of life by exposing them to that harshness. I believe that as a parent it’s my job to protect my sons from the brutality of the world for as long as I can.” (page 20).

I disgree with Louv. I think that as a parent it’s my job to teach my kid that nature is honest and that the world is not brutal. I can’t shelter my child from every rain drop nor do I want to. I can’t shelter my child from the tears that will be shed when a pet dies, nor do I want to. I can’t always shelter my child from the wind, the cold or the heat. Sunburns, mosquito bites and blisters happen.  Those things aren’t brutal, they are just part of life.

At some point I’ll probably take my kid fishing, we’ll kill the fish, gut it and cook it over a campfire and he’ll learn that food doesn’t always come from cellophane container in the meat department of the grocery store. Nick understands nature, Richard Louv does not.

My goal as a parent is to raise my child so that he doesn’t need me to protect him the same way that I did when he was an infant.

For those of you who have read this book, what do you think?  Does it get better or worse?  Should I keep on reading or throw it out?

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User Comments

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Outdoor Parents Outdoor Kids-Guide to getting your kids active in the great outdoors by Eugene Buchanan -Just Trails

  2. Doug |

    I read it 5 or so years ago and enjoyed it. However, I started to read it again about 3 weeks ago and have struggled to make it to page 60 (I blame the great weather we’re having). Obviously, it is not a fast paced read, and being that you do have a child already, you may pick up on things that I haven’t (ask me again in a few years, though). I read it from a rec specialist viewpoint, not from a parentcs, so that may make the difference.

    • Rebecca |

      It is a hard book to read when the weather is nice! I think that I like Louv’s overall premise, that kids (and adults too) need to play outside more. I can see how it could be a good read from an outdoor rec point of view. I think I’m going to keep plugging away at it, I should see it through the finish line even if it takes until next summer!

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