Throw Back Thursday Book Review

Just under a year ago I read How to Raise a Wild Child by Scott D. Sampson. It’s really what initially got me thinking about Mama’s Forest School and what my children really need in life – and what I really need in life. I wrote a review of this truly wonderful book last June on a blog I kept at the time but have since let go to seed. Below is the review I first published there. Enjoy! 

This book was pretty much perfect. It was part parenting manifesto, part environmentalist love letter to childhood and nature, part practical. It was just the right amount of story, idealism and action plan, and I can’t quite get over it. I was really worried that it would be a something that wasn’t tangible, just a series of nice ideas with no real implementation possible or a lot of preachy-ness on things I already new about. But it wasn’t that at all – instead, through personal stories, solid research, real life examples, and just pure passion, Dr. Scott relayed a series of concrete ideas and solutions that parents and educators can use to instill a love for nature in their children while simultaneously saving our education system, curing the obesity epidemic, and saving our planet. (Yes, he’s left me THAT hopeful. The man should be our secretary of education and interior combined.)

Wonderful ideas aside, one of the best things about this book was the structure. Dr. Scott walks the reader through the issues our nation (our world, really) is facing in regards to a vanishing appreciation for and knowledge of nature and then does a wonderful job of linking it to the massive changes that have occurred in the last few decades in childhood and education (none of them that good). He then explores the role of the “nature mentor”, a trusted adult who may or may not have a vast experience in the outdoors, who guides children, their own and possibly others, through nature exploration. Dr. Scott address each major developmental stage and looks at how parents and teachers can expand their children and students’ natural horizons. And, in the last section of the book, he looks at a couple of other barriers and potential partnerships between children and nature, such as technology and the rewilding movement. He ends with an incredibly moving picture of a potential future, should we, parents and educators follow through with the many ideas and tips delivered in the book.

This is one of those books where I’m going to need to just purchase my own copy. Given some time to let everything sink in, I’ll need to go back to consult or to revisit ideas (there are great summaries at the end of each chapter along with specific and concrete tips for raising a wild child), which is similar to how I felt after reading Kim John Payne’s book, Simplicity Parenting (another recommended read). I also feel like this needs to be required reading for all educators. Dr. Scott is deft at picking up on the issues plaguing public education and offers real solutions that I know would move us in a tremendously different and better direction. I sincerely feel that working from the direction of the classroom, as well as the home, would be incredibly effective in making a change in how our nation views our environment.

I cannot say enough good things about this book, so I’m going to end with a list of things I truly just loved about the book:

  • It was hopeful, encouraging, and non-preachy.
  • There was a solid mix of story, example, and practicality – it was easy to get through and a joy to read.
  • My heart sung during the sections discussing children’s need to play to learn and I am determined to put together an outdoor playscape – I’d love to see this done at our local schools, as well!
  • He mentioned Waldorf schools a bunch of times. 
  • It was well organized and thoughtful; the concepts felt accessible. 
  • I was left with so many ideas and plans it was almost overwhelming, but in a good way!

 Please, please, please pick up this book and read it. It is a must for parents who desire to be worthy living in this beautiful world and to make it worthy of our children. Whether it’s something that just puts a fire under your bum to do more or inspires you with ideas you hadn’t had before, it’s totally worth the read!


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