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

Overview

The technology boom of recent years has given kids numerous reasons to stay inside and play, while parents' increasing safety concerns make it tempting to keep children close to home. But what is being lost as fewer kids spend their free time outdoors? Deprived of meaningful contact with nature, children often fail to develop a significant relationship with the natural world, much less a sense of reverence and respect for the world outside their doors.

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

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Overview

The technology boom of recent years has given kids numerous reasons to stay inside and play, while parents' increasing safety concerns make it tempting to keep children close to home. But what is being lost as fewer kids spend their free time outdoors? Deprived of meaningful contact with nature, children often fail to develop a significant relationship with the natural world, much less a sense of reverence and respect for the world outside their doors.

A Natural Sense of Wonder is one father's attempt to seek alternatives to the "flickering waves of TV and the electrifying boing of video games" and get kids outside and into nature. In the spirit of Rachel Carson's The Sense of Wonder, Rick Van Noy journeys out of his suburban home with his children and describes the pleasures of walking in a creek, digging for salamanders, and learning to appreciate vultures. Through these and other "walks to school," the Van Noys discover what lives nearby, what nature has to teach, and why this matters.

From the backyard to the hiking trail, in a tide pool and a tree house, in the wild and in town, these narrative essays explore the terrain of childhood threatened by the lure of computers and television, by fear and the loss of play habitat, showing how kids thrive in their special places. In chronicling one parent's determination (and at times frustration) to get his kids outside, A Natural Sense of Wonder suggests ways kids both young and old can experience the wonder found only in the natural world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The question of how parents should appropriately connect their children with nature is accessibly and gently articulated here. This is a great book for a wide range of parents and is full of the realities of parenting in a postmodern age. Whereas Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods is issues oriented and broadly sociological, A Natural Sense of Wonder is hands on."—David Sobel, author of Beyond Ecophobia

"A Natural Sense of Wonder is a wonderful, timely, and much needed lyrical reminder of the fundamental importance of children's ongoing experience of nature as the basis of creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, and so much more that ultimately makes us human. People evolved in close association with the natural world and consequently became genetically encoded to maintain this association as the wellspring of their physical, mental, and even moral and spiritual condition. This is, of course, most true and and relevant in children's maturation and development. Van Noy's book is a profoundly moving, powerful, and eloquent reminder of this basic truth with which our modern society, estranged from nature, has lost touch to its ultimate detriment."—Stephen R. Kellert, author of Children and Nature: Psychological, Sociocultural, and Evolutionary Investigations

"All parents, take note! In this enthusiastic and poetic drift of essays, Van Noy sets out to unveil the natural world for his children and finds himself on his own voyage of discovery. Walking in the footsteps of Rachel Carson, who believed that nature provided young people an 'inner resource of strength' to last a lifetime, Van Noy seeks to imbue children with wonder. This book, which moves at the delightful pace of a summer’s day, is filled with the passion of a good naturalist and the sensibilities of a loving parent. Its motherlode chapter, 'Dirt World,' which offers advice on how to get children outdoors, is worth the price of the book."—Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

"'Here’s something!' says Van Noy’s daughter when she spots a snail trail on their sidewalk, and her father pays attention. A Natural Sense of Wonder is filled with explorations of such 'ordinary enchantments' too often lost in the swirl of our hyper-scheduled lives. Van Noy treats his children and his readers with warmth and respect, seamlessly squeezing a good deal of natural history, etymology, and literary savvy into his stories of snot-otters and snake whisperers. He is a 'full participant' in his family’s home territory on Virginia’s New River, and we can ask for no better reminder that 'every moment is a now' in our own home landscapes."—Stephen Trimble, coauthor of The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places

Named one of the ten best books for teachers. "Best call for nature: A Natural Sense of Wonder, by Rick Van Noy. Through his experiences raising his own two children, Van Noy offers hands-on ideas for connecting kids with nature through the seasons."—Scholastic Magazine

"Fans of Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods (2005) will find much to enjoy here, although Van Noy's unique combination of parenting memoir and naturalist treatise makes him a more readable and prescient author than most on this subject . . . Van Noy is forging new ground by combining environmentalism and parenting in a fresh and engaging manner. His collection can serve as a blueprint for future works on bringing nature back into the lives of children."—Colleen Mondor, Booklist

"An intelligent, literary and insightful book."—Justin Askins, Roanoke Times

"Van Noy manages to avoid sounding pedantic when writing about his family's wholesome lifestyle. Instead, his prose is accessible and poetic. . . . A Natural Sense of Wonder is an easy read with a lasting message that may inspire even the most ardent video-gamers to take a walk in the woods."—Andi Diehm, ForeWord

Booklist
Fans of Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods (2005) will find much to enjoy here, although Van Noy's unique combination of parenting memoir and naturalist treatise makes him a more readable and prescient author than most on this subject ... Van Noy is forging new ground by combining environmentalism and parenting in a fresh and engaging manner. His collection can serve as a blueprint for future works on brining nature back into the lives of children.
—Colleen Mondor
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820331034
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 6/25/2008
  • Pages: 152
  • Sales rank: 430,136
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Rick Van Noy is an associate professor of English at Radford University in Virginia. He is also the author of Surveying the Interior.

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Table of Contents

ix Prologue

1 Walking to School
9 The Places I’ve Lived, and the Ones I Live For
17 Beautiful Scavengers
27 Scorched Earth
36 Nordic Fun
40 Skating Pond
44 Weed Eaters
55 Creek Walking
62 Holy Land
74 Bridge 33
81 Field Guides
92 Swimming Hole
104 False Cape
113 Tree House
122 Seven Days
128 Tide Pools
140 Dirt World

151 Notes
163 Acknowledgments

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2008

    Rachel Carson and Richard Louv gave us the ideas. Now is time for action!

    Rick Van Noy has taken the words of Rachel Carson to heart. Collecting notes while making memories with his children, he has compiled a parent's dream come true. How does a parent create meaningful activities that will help their family grow stronger, help their children learn of the need to care for the world around them, and do all this without costing a fortune? As a father of three, I am constantly trying to find ways for my children to experience their surroundings, hoping that they will grow up and do the same for their children. Rick Van Noy's book, A Natural Sense of Wonder, reminds parents of the importance of everyday adventures. Written in conversational, journal style, the book features many stories of family adventures such as treehouse building, salamander hunts, and one of our favorites - creek dipping. Along the way, Van Noy introduces just enough beginning ecology to encourage families to seek out further information about historical ecological figures and movements. Simple hints and the author's lessons learned are shared to guarantee that your own attempts at navigating the world- or just your backyard, will be successful. Successful, in that you will build stronger bonds with your family, and truly provide them with a 'natural sense of wonder' for the world.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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