Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Review and Giveaway: The Green Hour

A book review from The Conscious Shopper

If you're familiar with Last Child in the Woods and the No Child Left Inside coalition, you've heard about the effects of nature-deficit disorder on children, including obesity, attention deficit disorder, depression, and anxiety. But have you ever thought about the effect the current nature-deprived generation will have on saving the planet?

In the introduction to The Green Hour: A Daily Dose of Nature for Happier, Healthier, Smarter Kids, one paragraph caught my eye:
In an article titled "Learning to Love the Natural World Enough to Protect It," Louise Chawla finds two significant factors common to adults who have chosen to work in defense of the environment: having positive outdoor experiences as a child, and being taken outdoors by a parent or caregiver.
If the next generation has no connection to the natural world, what desire will they have to care for and conserve it?

A love for the natural world is certainly a desire I have for my own budding greenies, and The Green Hour is the perfect handbook to help me achieve that goal. As the director of the National Wildlife Federation's Green Hour website, author Todd Christopher encourages readers to set aside one hour a day "for play and discover in the natural world...A green hour is simply a time for families to unplug, unwind, and recharge as they reconnect to the natural world - and to each other. It is an opportunity for parents to strengthen family bonds as they guide the natural experiences that foster happier, healthier, smarter children."

Okay, Mr. Christopher, I'm all for happier, healthier, smarter children...but what about the mosquitos?

Before launching into suggestions for what you can do outside, The Green Hour includes a chapter on how to avoid or overcome "the potential hazards and discomforts of the great outdoors" - from poison ivy to bees to mosquitos to heat. For those of us that already spend a lot of time outdoors, this chapter might feel redundant (of course, you shouldn't swat at bees...of course, one of the first plants your kids should be able to identify is poison ivy...), but since a lot of parents really do make excuses about mosquitos and a lot of kids really are afraid of bees, I thought this was a creative and interesting chapter.

We're outdoors...Now what do we do?

Don't worry. The Green Hour doesn't send you outside and then leave you hanging. It's jam-packed full of outdoor activities for everyone from the beginner to the more advanced nature explorer. And although some of the ideas might seem like common sense (look for bugs), Christopher puts a fresh spin on it (make a bug vacuum).

A few ideas I dog-eared:
  • Letterboxing (or the modern version, geocaching) - Part hike, part treasure hunt.
  • Cricket thermometers - By counting the number of times a cricket chirps in fourteen seconds, you can estimate the current temperature.
  • Watch a meteor shower - There are several big ones at regular times of the year.
Are you ready to commit to a green hour?

Even though I'm raising city kids, I've always tried to expose them to lots of nature and encouraged them to play outside, but I've never done it with a real sense of commitment, setting aside a specific time in our day as outside play time. And even when we are outside, we're usually walking home from school or playing at the playground, not exploring nature.

So I'm committing to try a green hour with my kids several times a week (I'm not sure we can do a whole hour ever day). During our "daily dose of nature," we'll actually get out in nature - not just swing and slide and climb at the playground, but get down and dirty looking for bugs, picking wildflowers, identifying leaves, and looking for stars. And to prove my commitment, I'll post about my family's green hour once a month either here or over at my personal blog.

Will you join me?

To help you get started on your own green hour, Shambhala Publications is generously offering two copies of this book to two readers of The Green Phone Booth. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post by Tuesday, May 4th. I'll randomly select the winners and announce the results next Wednesday.


Disclaimer: Shambhala sent me a copy of this book to be able to write this review but did not compensate me in any other way. I was not under any obligations to write a positive review, and all of the opinions contained in this post are my own.


Christine G said...

That sounds like a great book :o) I have checked out another book- "I love dirt" from the library many times now... it would sure be nice to have my own book at home to use as a jumping point to getting outdoors *MORE* with my little one.
Thanks for the giveaway!

fullfreezer said...

Oh, that sounds like a great read. We have instituted something similar- my husband calls it "Mandatory Frolic" and we send the children outside to play.

MaddyG said...

Right now, my son, husband, and I are outside hiking, going to parks and playgrounds as often as possible. However, we are moving from central NY to a much more urban area near DC soon.
Seems like this book could be helpful with giving me some creative ideas on how to continue our love affair with nature once we relocate.

Anonymous said...

i love taking my boys outside to enjoy this awsome texas weather.

The Raven said...

Fabulous! Please put my name in!

Kellie said...

I've heard mention of letterboxing before, but have never done it. Might be something really fun to do with the kids over the summer!

thirsty said...

this is our very first season where our children delight in being outdoors. I firmly believe that they will have no interest in protecting the planet if they don't have wonderful experiences in nature. but they've always HATED being outside! I am hoping we make this most of this sudden interest in all things natural.

AnnMarie said...

Sounds like a fabulous book! Although moving across the country was really hard, I'm glad we now have a house in the country so that my daughter's outdoor time is always green!

Jennifer said...

Sounds like a great book with great ideas :) I've never been very "outdoorsy" myself and I'm now making an attempt so that my little man doesn't become a couch potato like his mama and this book would be a great help!

Dianne said...

We just had a No Child Left Inside Day at a school near us - it was a huge success! I would love to use this book with my own kiddos. Thanks for the great giveaway!

Virginia said...

I don't have kids, and I don't really like being outside, but I still want to preserve it in case I change my mind! I also want to remind everyone that as tempting as it is, not all wildflowers are for picking, so please check first!

miss muffet said...

This is perfect timing. Both my kids' spring activities are ending within the next two weeks, and we will finally be able to spend some unstructured time outside. Recently, my daughter and I stopeed for 15 minutes and watched the swarm of ants at the edge of our yard. We even took pictures for her brother.

Daisy said...

It's harder for my family, but I'll give it a whirl. My son is blind, which makes getting "down and dirty" a little tougher. He and I like to go outside, though, and read as night falls. He lasts longer than I do - he doesn't need light!

Tony R. said...

sounds like a great book. I would be real excited to win a copy! Thanks!

Sandy said...

This book sounds wonderful. I'm a teacher, and a grandmother to two boys; I love the outdoors, and I'd love to pass that love along to those that are coming behind me. I'm always looking for fresh ideas!

Toni's Treehouse said...

The Green Hour is must check out book!!! We spend at least an hour outside everyday -- walking, looking, digging, playing. My whole family loves the outdoors. So we will absolutely join you! Should we all blog about our outdoor adventures on or around the same day? Thanks for keeping us on our toes! :)

Lisa said...

Does he talk about mountain lions?

Bani said...

Thanks for the giveaway. I'm very interested in this subject. Encouraging fun outdoors is so important for kids and family bonding.

Oldnovice said...

If a new grandmother is allowed to engage, I'm in. I watch her three times/week for 3-4 hrs just to develop bonding time, but I'm looking for things to "mix it up".

Levinson Axelrod said...

Thanks for introducing this book. It seems to hold a lot of great and useful information for parents.


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