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We’ve known for a while that older kids get outside and play in nature less and less these days. In short, there is a nature deficit. But a new study in the journal Sociological Inquiry points out that this may start even earlier than we thought. Here is how Sara Novak described the situation in Treehugger:


children are becoming increasingly isolated from nature, which is evident from its depiction in children’s books. An analysis of the 296 Caldecott Medal Award Winners from 1938-2008, found that overtime depictions of nature show up half as much as depictions of manmade environments. This listing of esteemed children’s classics show that before 1960 depictions of the natural world and depictions of the manmade world were about equal.

I grew up in the 60s with many of the children’s classics, such as Where the Wild Things Are and Winnie the Pooh, but as a city kid my first words were Car, Bus, Truck and Taxi as best as my parents recall. Mama and Dada rounded out the top ten.

Clearly what books your child reads can affect their imagination and how they see the world. But most of us live in urban or suburban areas these days and that’s the dominant prism through which our children see the world when it comes down to it. Just over a year old now, The Kid will get infinitely more excited about a dog than any building that we might walk by. That said, he really does love his blocks.


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