We asked our Facebook fans to present questions for us to ask Scott D. Sampson, author of How to Raise A Wild Child, Here are his wonderful responses.
1) What advice would you give parents who have children with ADD to get them out enjoying the outdoors?
For parents with children who have ADD, or really for any parent, I like to suggest the following experiment: Try scheduling at least 30-60 minutes of unscheduled time in nearby nature for kids three times a week for one month. Then look for effects, first on those days with outdoor time compared to indoor days. After a few weeks, see if the ADD symptoms in general have died down. Remember that “nature” in this context can be as simple as a backyard in the case of preschoolers, or the local park for children in middle childhood.
2) What was the most surprising thing you learned while writing How to Raise a Wild Child?
While researching the book, I was surprised to learn that even a little urban nature can go a long way toward reducing stress and improving health. Heck, even house plants can make a positive difference! The bottom line is that we all need nature, and we aren’t getting it. And for kids, a daily dose of “vitamin N” appears to be crucial to healthy development—physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual.
I was also surprised to learn that my own level of nature connection was pretty pathetic. Despite the fact that I have cumulatively spent years of my life living in a tent in remote natural places, I too was not slowing down to enjoy and appreciate everyday encounters with nearby nature. I have since made a conscious effort to be more mindful of such daily wonders as clouds, birds, trees, stars, and insects.
3) What books do you recommend for kids interested in the outdoors?
For young children, I heartily recommend the series of books by Jennifer Morgan that tell the Universe Story: 1) Born with a Bang, 2) From Lava to Life, and 3) Mammals Who Morph. I also suggest the “Next Time You See a . . .” book series by Emily Morgan (e.g., Next Time You See a Sunset). For older kids, many of the Newbery Medal Winning books (and runners up) are nature-focused and exceptional. These include E.B. White’s, “Charlotte’s Web,” and “Julie of the Wolves,” by June Craighead George.
4) What books should parents read if they have children interested in paleontology?
Evolution: The Story of Life is a terrific book by Douglas Palmer that relates paleontology to the present day. Another worthwhile read is Peter Ward’s A New History of Life along with Donald Prothero’s, The Story of Life in 25 Fossils.
With regard to dinosaurs, two of the most engaging books I know for kids and adults are: 1) Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages, edited by Holtz and Rey, and 2) Dinosaur Art: The World’s Greatest Paleoart, edited by Steve White. If I could be so bold, I would also recommend my general audience book, Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life.