Hope the week is treating you fab-ly.
I came across this article in HuffPo and it totally upset me. The story is about how references to nature are declining in children’s books, and that does not bode well for generations of kids who are increasingly isolated from the natural world, not only physically, but now intellectually as even their books don’t reference interaction with nature.
Quote, from the article:
[according to a study] Initially, natural and built environments were equally represented, but beginning in the 1960s, depictions of natural settings began a steady decline. By 2008, images of human-made environments showed up in books twice as often as those depicting nature scenes.
The study’s authors attribute the decline to the increasing isolation of children from the natural world. “These findings suggest that today’s generation of children are not being socialized, at least through this source, toward an understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the place of humans within it,” noted the authors.
[source: “Children’s Books Lack Nature References, Study Suggests”]
The article also raises a question about whether kids like nature subjects, but maybe aren’t into books about nature that are heavy-hitting in terms of environmental messages. It’s something to think about, but I think the most troubling aspect of this piece, and the study, is that we as a species are becoming more and more isolated from the outdoors, and this has profound ramifications for our physical, spiritual, and emotional health. Here, from the Harvard Health Letter, are some reasons that this is true. The Guardian notes that the outdoors (even a view of it) can help patients heal faster, and this source (maybe kind of woo-woo) notes it, too.
I know that being outside has helped me in terms of health and well-being — even if that’s just a placebo effect, I always feel better after playing outside, so I’ll take it.
So if you’re parents, maybe hook your kids up with classic books that feature outside settings like, say, the Little House on the Prairie books, or Treasure Island . Heck, even the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books are good options. And get your kids OUTSIDE. Take them on bug-hunting trips to the park or open space. Go for drives to rural areas and national parks and forests. Get them involved in outdoor programs, so that they learn how interconnected we all are to not only our built environments, but the natural. We need more stewards of the land, friends.
So go play outside!
Happy reading, happy writing, happy camping!