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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Smarty Book Recommendation

By Dana D, Green Queen, CharlotteSmartyPants

I found some super cool books that I think are a great way to bring our children back in touch with nature. It's pretty obvious that technology and television have contributed to our kids being inside more these days than we ever would have imagined.

I have so many fond memories of being outside ALL day and loving every minute of it. I want my children to be able to experience these joys of nature as well. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania with the daily activities of gardening, fishing and much more. I was there last week for a family reunion. It was so much fun for me to see my boys running through the fields, driving tractors (with an adult of course!) and grinning from ear to ear.

I know our lives are much different now. Jobs are more demanding and schedules don't allow for a lot of free time (especially if both parents are working). I feel strongly that we should really make an effort to spend as much time outdoors with our children and teach them to love the outdoors. Go ahead and get dirty. Yes, it's okay to play with bugs. We all know that childhood obesity and indoor air pollution are at an all time high, so let's try to get outside as much as possible. I know that's easier said than done when it's over 90 degrees outside! I was at Freedom Park the other day and my boys played with rolly pollies for about 30 minutes. They were thrilled! I have also started a small garden. The boys are quite interested and love to pull off some rosemary or basil. It's really cute to see them stand there and hold it to their nose. The other day, Austin said, "It's rosemary, Mama." It is fun to see them actually start to recognize some of the herbs and vegetables. If you don't have room or the desire for a garden, then you can always grow herbs or even tomatoes in a container.

Please see below for my recommendations. These books give lovely ideas of how to enjoy the outdoors with your children.

Sunflower Houses - By Sharon Lovejoy
* A beautiful book that shares childhood memories of gardening as well as plants for children, garden games, how to build an outdoor playhouse (with sunflowers and morning glory- VERY cool!) and nature's toyshop. Remember how to blow through a blade of grass to make a whistle? Or make walnut sailboats?

I love dirt! - By Jennifer Ward
* I love, love, love this book! It gives you ideas to get your child engaged in nature and the 52 activities listed are divided by season. The author is committed to combating sedentary indoor lifestyles and assisting parents and children to reconnect with nature. I found it interesting that Jennifer Ward notes in her book that "students in schools with nature immersion programs performed 27 percent better in science testing than those in traditional class settings." This was reported from a 2005 California Department of Education study. Just food for thought!

Last Child in the Woods - By Richard Louv
* This is a wonderful book that I highly recommend! The author speaks of how this generation has lost its connection with the natural world and how this has attributed to attention deficit disorders, childhood obesity and depression. It also touches on how outdoor play/nature is essential for emotional and physical development. I think you all will really enjoy this one.

Make it! - By Jane Bull
Fabulous for rainy days! This book is printed with vegetable dyes and the paper used is sourced from responsibly managed forests. This book gives you many crafty ideas to engage your children, reusing many household items that you would normally throw away. There are activities for scrap paper, junk mail, plastic (I try to refrain from using too much plastic), and fabric. Everything you need is at home so no need to go spend money (besides buying the book).

There are a number of state and local governments moving towards supporting unstructured outside play. Some examples are Leave No Child Inside and Take It Outside initiatives. Last but not least, don't forget the Audubon Field Guide books. These are great references for the outdoors!

Please share any stories, comments or books you would recommend to our readers. We would love to hear from you!


Sharon Lovejoy said...

Dear Katie, Oh how wonderful to see your great blog and the stellar recommendations for reading, which I am happy to say, included my first book Sunflower Houses. (Now 19 years old!)

Please check out Roots Shoots Buckets & Boots, another one of my books that connects children to all aspects of being in nature, from cooking, growing, art, botany, entomology, to good family traditions.

All joys to you and yours,

CARA said...

If only it were not pouring rain and freezing outside - I would head to Barnes & Noble right now to pick up one of these books! What terrific recommendations! I agree that we all need to be outside more with our kids. I remember the days of playing in the creek all day long until mom would call us in for dinner. I realize that the world has gotten to be somewhat of a scary place and we cannot trust that our kids will be safe outdoors alone, BUT we can explore with them! Sharon, I will definitely check out Roots SHoots Buckets and Boots! Such a cute title!

Rachel H said...

Sharon's books must be really good! I went to Borders in Winston-Salem today and all her books (including the two mentioned here) were out of stock and available only online! So if anyone was headed to Borders, you may want to order them from Sharon's website instead. I think I saw free shipping on her page!

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