co-founder and Chairman Emeritus, Children & Nature Network.
Author, "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" and "The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age."
I‘m on a dangerous mission here.
By serving up a list of 16 suggested gift books for the holiday season, I’m guaranteed to offend someone — including any of those great authors I know and love whose great books aren’t on this particular list. It’s a space problem, see. And I can come back around next year with a whole new list. (Check here for an overlapping selection of C&NN-recommended books and reports. That list, too, is incomplete.)
Here are some (not all!) of my favorites. Give these books as gifts and spread the word. Lots of words.
The Thunder Tree
Robert Michael Pyle
Bob’s classic memoir evokes a time when place mattered, and still can. His moving coming-of-age story introduced “the extinction of experience.” I contributed a preface to this new edition.
What the Robin Knows
This new book from one of the country’s leading natural teachers. Here’s my jacket blurb: “Jon Young is one of the heroes of the new nature movement . . . This elegant book will deepen the kinship between humans and other species. It decodes our common language.”
The Great Work
Thomas Berry was one of the world’s leading eco-theologians. In his early 90s, he wasn’t interested in the 20th century; he only wanted to talk about the Great Work of the 21st century: reconnecting our species to the meaning found in the natural world. He was one of two people I’ve met who I considered truly beatific. The other one was Mister Rogers.
A pioneer of biophilic thinking, Steve has helped shape mine. About it, I wrote: “Stephen Kellert’s heartfelt Birthright is a moving memoir, a finely tuned analysis, and a gift to future generations … Here is a topological map of that future.”
Earth in Mind
David W. Orr
David W. Orr, chair of the environmental studies program at Oberlin College in Ohio, is a hero to just about anyone who cares about environmental literacy or nature itself.
When it comes to David’s books and contributions, where do you start? Ecohobia was and remains a forehead slapper. “Wild Play” is more personal. He’s been described as a trailblazing environmental educator but here, as a story teller, he shares how he’s helped his own family avoid nature-deficit disorder.
Bringing Nature Home
Doug Tallamy — proponent a Homegrown National Park — believes that we can build biodiversity by naturalizing our back yards. I’ve called his book “the perfect antidote to the belief that nature happens somewhere else.”
The Sense of Wonder
The classic meditation on why children, and all of us, need nature in our lives to ignite our awe and humility. This book is less known than Carson’s “Silent Spring,” but perhaps even more relevant today.
A Natural History of the Senses
The story of our connection to the natural world is defined by the extent of our senses. Amazon describes this book as a “grand tour of the realm of the senses” that “includes conversations with an iceberg in Antarctica and a professional nose in New York….and the music played by the planet Earth.”
Sharing Nature with Children
Joseph Cornell was on the case decades ago. “Sharing Nature with Children,” translated into more than a dozen languages, is a bible for those who connect kids to nature. This is the revised 20th anniversary edition.
Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature
Jon Young, Ellen Haas, and Evan McGown
Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature set new standards for a deep environmental literacy. As an admirer of Jon, Ellen and Even, I was asked to write the introduction to this fine book.
Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties
This book from the Teddy Roosevelt era is packed with how-to fantasies and Beard’s classic illustrations. It’ll make you want to head outside, no matter what your age.
The Great Animal Orchestra
The founder of Wild Sanctuary, an organization dedicated to the recording and archiving of natural soundscapes, Bernie writes here about “finding the origins of music in the world’s wild places.” He once worked with the Rolling Stones. Now he rolls with the stones.
The Nature Connection
Clare Walker Leslie
A longtime writer and illustrator devoted to connecting people — especially children — to nature, Clare is one of the most prolific authors and guides to creative nature activities.
Thinking Like a Mountain
Borrowing Aldo Leopold’s famous phrase for his title, the world-renowned artist (and champion for connecting kids to nature) offers a series of short, personal essays.
Fed Up with Frenzy
Susan Sachs Lipman
This one’s from our own Suz Lipman, C&NN’s social media director. I’m prejudiced but accurate. Here’s what I wrote for the cover blurb for this book on slow parenting: “STOP. Pick up this book….Fed Up with Frenzy is filled with recipes for the best of days.”
Richard Louv is is Chairman Emeritus of The Children and Nature Network, and the author of THE NATURE PRINCIPLE and LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS.