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Recommended Reading

The number of titles devoted to the children and nature movement, like the movement itself, continues to grow. C&NN has compiled a list of reading recommendations that includes recent and not-so-recent contributions.

The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder

by Richard Louv.
In his new book published in May 2011, Richard Louv makes a convincing case that through a nature-balanced existence—driven by sound economic, social, and environmental solutions—the human race can and will thrive. This timely, inspiring, and important work will give readers renewed hope while challenging them to rethink the way we live.


Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

by Richard Louv.
This expanded and updated edition includes new research, a progress report on the Leave No Child Inside movement, an added Field Guide with 100 actions for families and communities, and 35 discussion points for book groups, classrooms, families and communities.

Featured Releases

Robert Michael Pyle

Thunder Tree: Lessons from an Urban Wildland

by Robert Michael Pyle.
This engrossing memoir is an eloquent portrait of place. The Thunder Tree reveals the deep relationship between people—especially children—and the natural world. For a new generation of readers, Pyle’s environmental coming-of-age story offers a powerful argument for preserving opportunities to explore nature.

David Sobel

Wild Play: Parenting adventures in the great outdoors

by David Sobel.
A trailblazing environmental educator raised his children in the heart of nature. His story shows other parents how they can counter today’s pervasive “nature deficit.”


Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators

by David Sobel.
In "Childhood and Nature," Sobel argues that meaningful connections with the natural world begin in our own backyards and communities. Based on his observations of play themes around the world, he details seven design principles that can guide teachers in structuring learning experiences for children. Also: See Sobel’s other important books, including those on ecophobia and place-based education.

Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Health, Well-being, and Sustainability

by Andrew L. Dannenberg, Howard Frumkin and Richard J. Jackson.
This book follows the authors' "Urban Sprawl and Public Health" to examine the pressing need to create healthy places and reduce the health threats inherent in places already built. Drawing on the latest scientific evidence, with contributions from experts in a range of fields, "Making Health Places" imparts a wealth of practical information and demonstrated and promising solutions to commonly occurring problems.


Birthright: People and Nature in the Modern World

by Stephen R. Kellert.
A pioneer of biophiliac thinking, Kellert delineates the ways in which human health and well-being are inextricably linked to nature.


Companions in Wonder: Children and Adults Exploring Nature Together

Edited by Julie Dunlap and Stephen R. Kellert.
Rachel Carson’s classic 1956 essay “Help Your Child to Wonder” urged adults to help children experience the “sense of wonder” that comes only from a relationship with nature. It’s clear we haven’t succeeded in following her advice. The authors--writing as parents, teachers, mentors, and former children--describe experiences that range from bird watching to an encounter with an apple butter-loving grizzly bear.


Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life

by Stephen R. Kellert, Judith H. Heerwagen, and Martin L. Mador.
Biophilic Design is a series of essays looking at the design and construction of buildings and communities in relation to the natural world. Two essays in particular focus on the impact of these design decisions on children: “Healthy Planet, Healthy Children: Designing Nature into the Daily Spaces of Childhood,” and “Children and the Success of Biophilic Design."


A Natural Sense of Wonder: Connecting Kids with Nature Through the Seasons

by Rick Van Noy.
Van Noy, an English professor and father, chronicles his efforts to turn his children’s attention from their television and computer screens to the outdoors. In a series of essays organized mostly by season, he describes a host of outdoor adventures including swimming, hiking, gardening, and fishing with his family.


Moving the Classroom Outdoors: Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning in Action

by Herbert W. Broda.
Since Herb Broda published Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning, his groundbreaking first book on outdoor learning, many schools across North America have embraced the benefits of "greening" their learning programs. Herb has visited dozens of these schools and nature centers, and he showcases the very best examples of schoolyard-enhanced learning in action in his new book Moving the Classroom Outdoors, complete with photos of a wide variety of outdoor learning environments.


Early Childhood Activities for a Greener Earth

by Patty Born Selly.
Educate young children about the environment through experience and play. These activities encourage children to develop a sense of wonder, curiosity, and joy for nature. Each chapter focuses on a common and important environmental topic and provides information to help present these topics to children in developmentally appropriate ways.

The Stick Book: Loads of Things You Can Make or Do with a Stick

by Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield.
The stick is a universal toy; totally natural, all-purpose, free, it offers limitless opportunities for outdoor play and adventure. A stick provides a starting point for an active imagination and the raw material for transformation into almost anything! In this book, Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield offer dozens of suggestions for things to do with a stick to inspire creative and imaginative play, games, woodcraft, conservation, music and more.

The Kids' Outdoor Adventure Book

by Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer.
Nature is a destination, but you don’t have to travel anywhere to find it. Just open the door and step outside! Offering a fun, hands-on approach to getting involved in nature, The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book includes 448 things to do year-round for kids of all ages—more than 1 activity for every single day of the year.

Connecting With Nature: A Naturalist’s Perspective

by Robert Stebbins.
Taking what he calls “a nature-centered worldview,” author Robert Stebbins blends activities, examples, and stories with his perspectives on the importance of dealing objectively yet compassionately with social and environmental problems to help connect students and others with nature.


What the Robin Knows

by Jon Young.
A lifelong birder, tracker, and naturalist, Jon Young shares his view and knowledge that birds are the sentries – and our key – to understanding the world beyond our front door.


The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families and Classrooms

by Clare Walker Leslie.
This interactive notebook from naturalist and artist Leslie is full of creative exercises for kids ages 8-13.


Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformations

by Sharon Gamson Danks.
Sharon Danks broadens our notion of what a well-designed schoolyard should be, taking readers on a journey from traditional fields and asphalt, to explore the growing international movement toward "green" schoolgrounds.


Forest Kindergartens the Cedarsong Way

by Erin K. Kenny.
The founder of Cedarsong Nature School, the first U.S Forest Kindergarten based on the German waldkindergartens, Erin Kenny shares her own journey of learning about what it actually means to provide immersive preschool experience in an outdoor woodland habitat.


Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidenced-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces

by Claire Cooper Marcus and Naomi A. Sachs. This comprehensive and authoritative guide offers an evidence-based overview of healing gardens and therapeutic landscapes from planning to post-occupancy evaluation.

The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places

by 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.”

Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World

by Susan Sachs Lipman. C&NN's long-time social media director shares 300+ activities that help enhance nature and family time. Richard Louv wrote the cover blurb: “STOP. Pick up this book….Fed Up with Frenzy is filled with recipes for the best of days.”

Other Reading


Children and Nature: Psychological, Sociocultural and Evolutionary Investigations

(2002), by Stephen R. Kellert and Peter Kahn.

Incorporating research from psychology, ecology, environmental studies, and other disciplines, "Children and Nature" examines topics such as the evolutionary significance of nature during childhood, how contact with nature affects children’s physical and mental development, and the educational and political consequences of the weakened childhood experience of nature in modern society.


Coming Home: Community, Creativity and Consciousness

(2004), by Cheryl Charles and Bob Samples.
This book, co-authored by the president and CEO of the Children & Nature Network, focuses on how to create environments where individuals can feel cherished, productive, and fulfilled. Included are strategies for tapping into one’s creative potential and putting that talent to work, resulting in greater health and balance in family, business, school, social, and civic settings.


Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment and the Human Prospect

(2004) by David W. Orr.
David W. Orr is chair of the environmental studies program at Oberlin College in Ohio and credited with the simple, but profound statement, "When we heal the Earth, we heal ourselves." This ten-year anniversary edition of Earth in Mind is as prophetic, provocative, wise and inspirational as when it was first written.


The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places

(1994), by Gary Paul Nabhan and Stephen Trimble.
Though published more than a decade ago, "The Geography of Childhood" remains as relevant as ever. Written by two fathers who are naturalists, it makes vivid through essays and anecdotes the importance of a direct experience of nature in childhood development.


The Great Work: Our Way into the Future

(2000), by Thomas Berry.
This is one of Berry’s extraordinary contributions to the human journey forward to a new relationship with the natural world.


In the First Country of Places: Nature, Poetry, and Childhood Memory

(1994), by Louise Chawla.
This book by one of the foremost researchers on children and nature explores the relationship between creativity, memory and special childhood places in nature.


Infants, Toddlers, and Families: A Framework for Support and Intervention

(2002), by Martha Farrell Erickson, Karen Marie Kurz-Riemer, Karen Kurz-Riemer.
An important contribution describing how caregivers and the environment help shape the futures of young children.


Look to the Mountain: An Ecology of Indigenous Education

(1994), by Gregory Cajete.
An accomplished author, educator and artist, this is the earliest of Cajete’s books. Although written especially for a Native American audience, the wisdom of Cajete’s approaches is applicable to the development of learning environments for all youth and the communities within which they live.


Natural Learning: Creating Environments for Rediscovering Nature’s Way of Teaching

(1997), by Robin C. Moore and Herb H. Wong.
This is the classic sourcebook for how to transform an asphalt playground into a rich, relevant and natural place for learning. This ten-year life history of Washington Elementary School’s environmental schoolyard in Berkeley is a must-read story today. The concepts here can be applied to backyards, city parks, schoolyards and more.


Peripheral Visions: Learning Along the Way

(1994), by Mary Catherine Bateson.
All of Bateson’s books are artful and inspiring. This is one that is especially helpful for creating a sense of home and community in a complex and changing world.


Sharing Nature with Children

(1998), by Joseph Cornell.
Another classic, "Sharing Nature with Children" has been translated into more than a dozen languages and sold nearly half a million copies. The revised 20th anniversary edition features even more ideas for giving children memorable experiences in nature.

Coyote's Guide

Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature, 2nd Edition

by Jon Young, Ellen Haas, and Evan McGown

Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature offers dozens of activities, stories, and games, for parents, caregivers, and educators. This book has gathered a devoted following, setting new standards for an environmental literacy that engages body, mind and spirit.


Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens

(2007), by Doug Tallamy.
Doug Tallamy believes that children and their families help salvage – or build – the biodiversity of our world by naturalizing their back yards. Tallamy is professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware. Richard Louv calls Tallamy's book “the perfect antidote to the belief that nature happens somewhere else.”


The Thunder Tree: Lessons from an Urban Wildland

(1998), by Robert Michael Pyle.
Personal and prophetic, this is Bob Pyle’s classic describing how nature shapes us all, and the threat of what he calls “the extinction of experience.”


The Sense of Wonder

(1956), by 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.


A Natural History of the Senses

(1990), by 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.”


Thinking Like a Mountain

(2005), by 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.


Shelters, Shacks and Shanties: The Classic Guide to Building Wilderness Shelters

(reprint 2004), by D.C. Beard. This book from the Teddy Roosevelt era contains a wealth of practical instruction and advice on how to build everything from a bark teepee and a tree-top house to a log cabin and a sod house.

Parents Guide to Nature Play

A Parent's Guide to Nature Play:  How to Give Your Children More Outdoor Play, and Why You Should!

by Ken Finch

Ken Finch, founder of Green Hearts Institute, has published this brand-new booklet for parents. Downloadable as a PDF, this 20 page guide helps parents understand the key elements of great nature play, why it is important, and how they can integrate it into their children’s daily lives.

Natural Playscapes

Natural Playscapes: Creating Outdoor Play Environments for the Soul

by Rusty Keeler

With over 500 photographs and illustrations, Natural Playscapes provides inspiration and guidance for creating places for children of all abilities to discover themselves and the world around them.

Places for Play

A Place for Play: A Companion Volume to the Michigan Television Film, Where Do the Children Play,

edited by Elizabeth Goodenough

This full-color, richly illustrated anthology surveys the history of playground design and the children’s garden movement, the benefits of universal access to natural resources, and the challenges of developing child-centered and green communities.



Kids Dig Dirt! Green Paper

by the Association of Children’s Museums.

Children’s museums can play a critical role in shaping the healthy future of childhood by reemphasizing the importance of active play, engagement with nature, and the development of rich outdoor environments. This report provides facts and guidelines for museums to draw on while developing outdoor spaces, proposals for funding, or other materials.


Connecting Today’s Kids with Nature: A Policy Action Plan

by the National Wildlife Federation
This guide outlines policy solutions for parents and policymakers, including connecting kids to nature through environmental education, advocating for better community design for natural play areas, and encouraging parents and kids to engage in a daily Green Hour.


Fish & Wildlife News: Children and Nature

by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

This special edition of Fish & Wildlife News provides a glimpse of what FWS employees from coast to coast are doing to reconnect children with nature.


Great Outdoors America

by the Outdoor Resources Review Group

The "Great Outdoors America" report by the Outdoor Resources Review Group is the first major assessment of the nation's outdoor resources since a 1987. Released in July 2009, this comprehensive assessment of the nation's outdoor resources makes several key recommendations for safeguarding natural resources and increasing outdoor recreation opportunities. The Outdoor Resources Review Group has also published a series of backgrounders that cover a range of topics including the relationship between outdoor recreation, health, and wellness.

"If you go with long-term significance, my pick for the top story of not only 2009 but also of the 21st Century is the pandemic of Nature Deficit Disorder, a term so aptly coined by Richard Louv in his best-selling outdoor book, Last Child in the Woods...."
— Bill Schneider, NewWest.Net
“Concerns about long-term consequences—affecting emotional well-being, physical health, learning abilities, environmental consciousness—have spawned a national movement to ‘leave no child inside.’ In recent months, it has been the focus of Capitol Hill hearings, state legislative action, grassroots projects, a U.S. Forest Service initiative to get more children into the woods and a national effort to promote a ‘green hour’ in each day.”
— Washington Post
All of us share a sense of common purpose. We represent many, many others—some we know, and others we have never met. People throughout the world are increasingly connected by a resonance and passion, to create a new common sense for the good health of children today and generations to come.
– Cheryl Charles
“The movement to reconnect children to the natural world has arisen quickly, spontaneously, and across the usual social, political, and economic dividing lines.”
Orion magazine

Newsletter Archive

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C&NN Publications

As part of our ongoing efforts to build the movement, the Children & Nature Network has published these resources for leaders, organizers, and participants at the local, national, and international levels:

2010 C&NN Report
[>] Download PDF [2MB]

Children and Nature 2009: A Report on the Movement to Reconnect Children to the Natural World
[>] Download PDF [1.1MB]

C&NN Community Action Guide: Building the Children & Nature Movement from the Ground Up
[>] Download PDF [1.4MB]
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