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Book Review: The Nature Principle by Richard Louv


Ever since I read and raved about Last Child in the Woods to my nature-loving friends, I have awaited what would next come from Richard Louv. Louv coined the term, "nature-deficit disorder", a term that has come to be some what common in parenting and news culture. It's the term for this idea that our children and the current generation is staying indoors more, connecting with nature less, and has spun out of control adding to the obesity among children epidemic, ADHD and other behavioral challenges, a lack of care for the environment and a consumer mindset. Of course these are just the trickle down effect of a larger culture, and pieces of many pies, but his term has become so important that many new schools of thought have been created in the past number of years to try and deal with this issue.

Have you seen community gardens around town? A school that has instituted the children work outside with compost and crops? More people joining local CSAs and a higher attendance at Farmer's Markets? More nature-related clubs, schools, training, and projects within the grades of K-12? People are starting to take notice, and his timely book Last Child in the Woods has been very influential. However, there is another group of people he focuses on in his second book, The Nature Principle: adults.

This book is much more idea & solution based than LCitW, because it's expanded the idea of nature-deficit disorder to adults and how they can create new businesses, schools, communities, ideas, websites, etc., to get their minds (and bodies) fit and back into nature. Louv has excellent points and writes beautiful prose about this topic, though this book seems to jump back and forth from topics chapter to chapter. Although there are sections of the book, followed by chapters in each section, I couldn't tell one from another. It also felt a little too forced--simply applying the same subject matter to an older group of people was not as effective as his first book on the topic simply because the research that backed up the first book was not there. This was a much less 'academic' book, but it still took a long time to read because I wasn't fascinated with the topic as much as the first time around. I normally love nonfiction, especially a good topic like getting people outside more, but this was a 4-week read. That rarely happens to me. I give it 2.5 stars for readership loyalty and some quotable, poetic verses he penned, but subject matter was repetitive.
If you like to read about innovative 'green' programs sprouting up throughout the country and world, you may enjoy this book, but for everyone else, I say Last Child in the Woods is mandatory reading, but skip the sequel.


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