This book caught my eye last week. My first thought was how sad it is that we might need a book with the subtitle “The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature.” Then I saw that the author is Dr. Scott from the PBS TV show Dinosaur Train. He is my son’s hero. While I admire the man for being able to rattle off unpronounceable dinosaur names without stumbling over them, I especially like how he signs off after each Dinosaur Train episode: “Get outside, get into nature, and make your own discoveries.”
Sampson starts his book with an explanation of how he became a nature lover. I can relate to a lot of what he describes. When I was a child, during summer vacations, we were always outside. There were only two rules:
- Try not to break anything.
- Leave your dirty clothes by the washing machine.
Thinking about some of my “adventures” now, I am surprised that the worst that ever happened were a dislocated shoulder and one heart-stopping encounter with soldiers in camouflage who were in the middle of a training exercise.
Sampson goes on to summarize all the health benefits of being outside. Well, I don’t need to be convinced of that. I don’t need to look further than my own kids to see how much good comes from an afternoon spent outside. So I admit I was only flipping through the book until one thing caught my eye:
If we as adults don’t ensure that children appreciate nature, who will take care of our planet in the future?
Once I read this, I sat down and read the whole book word for word, cover to cover. I found a way of looking at nature that I completely agree with, but I also found a lot of good advice on how I can ensure that my children appreciate the outdoors. I can listen to them to find out what they are most interested in and support their interest. I can make a point of asking questions to foster their curiosity. And rather than dismissing things that I don’t know, I can try harder to learn and explore with my kids. And hopefully, this will help them become good stewards of our earth in the future.
“The best place to fall in love with nature is wherever you happen to be.”
I am very lucky in that we have a good-sized backyard and don’t live far from state and national parks. It’s easy for us to get outside. But there are plenty of tips in this book for families who live in cities. It also addresses different age groups, because obviously, young children interact with nature (and adults) differently than teenagers. And because we live in the digital age, there is advice on how we can use electronics to encourage nature exploration.
“The capacity to fall in love with nature lies dormant within all of us.”
After reading this book, I feel very inspired to make sure my family gets “out there” now that the weather is nice. The American Trails website is a great starting point for finding outdoor activities. If you want a sneak peak at the book and get a few tips for how to be an effective mentor, check out the Raise a Wild Child website. Happy Earth Day!