About the Author

Richard Louv is Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Children & Nature Network, an organization supporting the international movement to connect children, their families and their communities to the natural world. He is the author of eight books, including "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" and "The Nature Principle." In 2008, he was awarded the Audubon Medal.

WAY GOOD GIFT BOOKS: A Few Dangerous Suggestions for Your Consideration

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.

Robert Michael Pyle

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

Jon Young
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
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.



Stephen Kellert
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.”


OrrEarth 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.


David Sobel

Wild Play

David Sobel
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
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.”


sense of wonderThe Sense of Wonder

Rachel Carson
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.


dianeakermanA Natural History of the Senses

Diane Ackerman
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
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 guideCoyote’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

D.C. Beard
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.


greatanimalorchistraThe Great Animal Orchestra

Bernie Krause
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.


natureconnectionThe 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.


thinklikeamountainThinking Like a Mountain

Robert Bateman
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.


FRENZYcoverFINAL2Fed 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



Comments (11)

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  1. Michaela says:


  2. Yvette Scherer says:

    May I add an excellent resource for families who want to connect music with nature, science, reading and movement – visit website :


    Here you will find the original music and videos of talented educators and musicians. Lesson plans that are aligned to Common Core are also available.

    Give it a listen – and you’re sure to be hooked on nature jams!

  3. Diana says:

    Thank you for this! I can’t wait to get started. One more (or two) you might like (my daughter introduced me to these): The Spell of the Sensuous (David Abram), who also wrote Becoming Animal; I’ve read the first and onto the second.

  4. Jane says:

    Books are timeless treasures when it comes to gifts… I still treasure the copy of “The Sea Around Us” (children’s edition) that I received over 50 years ago.

    I shared a link to the book list on the Children & Nature website earlier today on my blog- what a good coincidence.

  5. Chitra says:

    What a lovely collection.Thank you.My teacher from school connected me to connect Nature and children when she gave me, “Sharing Nature with Children”, in the late 80’s.

  6. Such a great list. I will defintely add Bringing Wonder Home to my bookshelf. And for those looking to cultivate a connection with nature and grow closer to God in the process–check out Unwrapping Wonder: Finding Hope in the Gift of Nature. More info @ http://www.thedivinenatureproject.com

  7. This is a great list… lots of my faves here. But what about the books that you actually curl up and read WITH your kids when they are young? There are so many that bring back such happy memories for me and my kids. They are full of joy and wonder and reinforce that lovely feeling of loving nature together… Those are the books that really inspire! Like the Christmas book Night Tree by Eve Bunting. Even though my kids are a lot older now, we still get it out and read it each year when we open our Christmas box. It reminds us of our many adventures in the woods together.


  8. Richard Louv says:

    Stay tuned, Alison. A fine guest blog post by one of our favorite authors, on that topic, is coming soon.

  9. Amy Beam says:

    Happy to already have eight of sixteen!

  10. Warren Gartner says:

    This helps with my Christmas shopping and adds to the stack of books on my entable to read.

  11. Cliff Knapp says:

    Thanks for your list. There is always another good book around the corner. I have 7 of them. I’d add Leopold’s classic, A Sand County Almanac and May Watts’ Reading the Landscape of America. I’d also vote for Abram’s The Spell of the Sensuous. Joseph Cornell will have a new one out soon. I guess the list is really endless.

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