A Natural Sense of Wonder
Connecting Kids with Nature through the Seasons

Rick Van Noy

Answering the call to action raised by The Last Child in the Woods


"The question of how parents should appropriately connect their children with nature is accessibly and gently articulated here. This is a great book for a wide range of parents and is full of the realities of parenting in a postmodern age. Whereas Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods is issues oriented and broadly sociological, A Natural Sense of Wonder is hands on."
—David Sobel, author of Beyond Ecophobia

"A Natural Sense of Wonder is a wonderful, timely, and much needed lyrical reminder of the fundamental importance of children's ongoing experience of nature as the basis of creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, and so much more that ultimately makes us human. People evolved in close association with the natural world and consequently became genetically encoded to maintain this association as the wellspring of their physical, mental, and even moral and spiritual condition. This is, of course, most true and and relevant in children's maturation and development. Van Noy's book is a profoundly moving, powerful, and eloquent reminder of this basic truth with which our modern society, estranged from nature, has lost touch to its ultimate detriment."
—Stephen R. Kellert, author of Children and Nature: Psychological, Sociocultural, and Evolutionary Investigations

More / Hide


The technology boom of recent years has given kids numerous reasons to stay inside and play, while parents' increasing safety concerns make it tempting to keep children close to home. But what is being lost as fewer kids spend their free time outdoors? Deprived of meaningful contact with nature, children often fail to develop a significant relationship with the natural world, much less a sense of reverence and respect for the world outside their doors.

A Natural Sense of Wonder is one father's attempt to seek alternatives to the "flickering waves of TV and the electrifying boing of video games" and get kids outside and into nature. In the spirit of Rachel Carson's The Sense of Wonder, Rick Van Noy journeys out of his suburban home with his children and describes the pleasures of walking in a creek, digging for salamanders, and learning to appreciate vultures. Through these and other "walks to school," the Van Noys discover what lives nearby, what nature has to teach, and why this matters.

From the backyard to the hiking trail, in a tide pool and a tree house, in the wild and in town, these narrative essays explore the terrain of childhood threatened by the lure of computers and television, by fear and the loss of play habitat, showing how kids thrive in their special places. In chronicling one parent's determination (and at times frustration) to get his kids outside, A Natural Sense of Wonder suggests ways kids both young and old can experience the wonder found only in the natural world.

Page count: 152 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $19.95

buy button
View Shopping Cart

List price: $18.95
Check ebook availability

Rick Van Noy is an associate professor of English at Radford University in Virginia. He is also the author of Surveying the Interior.