By Rick Van Noy (University of Georgia Press, 2008)
Few parents enjoy seeing their kids continually glued to video games and computer screens. But most of us aren’t entirely sure how to divert their attention to the wonders of nature, either. Rick Van Noy’s beautiful essays describe an ordinary parent’s efforts to uproot kids from their screen-centered habitats and replant them outside. Like Richard Louv in his seminal Last Child in the Woods, Van Noy cites research about the healthy effects of outdoor play, but these lessons are expressed mostly through tales of his family’s personal experiences: summertime vulture sightings, autumn creek walks in search of crayfish, Nordic skiing and springtime yard work that yields an accidental meal of native roots. Along with providing examples of nature’s classroom, Van Noy suggests how to get the whole gang outdoors more often: Keep shoes and boots by the door, limit screen time, and schedule regular “sneaker hikes” that focus on exploring rather than getting somewhere. This is poetic and practical inspiration for parents seeking to bring more nature into their kids’ lives, and it’s a fresh look at the outdoors through the eyes of a parent who finds philosophical lessons under every rock.