Book Shows Parents How to Encourage Children to Play Outdoors

Wild Play: Parenting Adventures in the Great Outdoors, a new book by David Sobel, core faculty member in the Department of Education, has just been published by Sierra Club Books.

Wild Play is Sobel’s memoir of integrating the experience of nature into family life with his children, Tara and Eli. It’s also a guide for parents, showing them how to encourage their children to play outdoors and engage with their natural surroundings.

“I strongly believe that the value of free play in the outdoors outweighs much of the risk that may be involved,” according to Sobel. “We have become such a risk-averse society, especially where children are concerned—partly due to the media’s harping on dangers outside the home and also to liability excesses.

“Of course there’s some risk when kids climb trees, teeter across a stream on a log, scramble up a steep trail, or learn to make fires. Of course parents need to calibrate risk and use appropriate supervision. But at a certain point, a child’s need to find independence and exercise agency must be respected.”

Richard Louv, the author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, calls Sobel’s book “an eloquent, valuable and heartfelt contribution to the children and nature movement, and to the children and those who love them.”

Sobel is the author of six books, including Children’s Special Places and Childhood and Nature, and more than sixty articles about children and nature. He consults and speaks widely on environmental education.

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