Book Review: The Green Hour

May 19th, 2010

Once, when I was reading The Green Hourunder the shade of two pine trees, a woman stopped to ask me if I was studying for medical exams. Thankfully no! I was enjoying nature, including the blue heron I saw minutes later down a squirming, silvery fish.

The Green Hour is a new book by Todd Christopher, creator of the National Wildlife Federation’s Green Hour®, advocating unstructured play in the nature.

In his new book, Christopher presents to parents a guide book to nature, complete with lots of interesting and doable activities involving the outdoors. One of my favorite examples is the cricket thermometer in the chapter called “Chasing Summer Bugs.”

I was a lucky kid. Just outside my door, I had many pastures and fields to explore while growing up, but I never knew that in the deep summer you could count cricket chirps then do a little math to determine the temperature outside! No worries. Crickets aren’t harmed. In fact, the activities presented by the author are all respectful of nature and its inhabitants.

The Green Hour is an easy read, but it’s intended for parents, not kids. In fact, you could describe it as a parenting book on how to raise nature-loving (or at least nature-appreciative) kids. Even if you’re a city slicker who didn’t get much outdoor time as a kid, The Green Hour can help you feel prepared to enjoy the great outdoors with your family. The book would also be suitable for teachers and just about anyone else who wants to become better acquainted with nature, with or without kids.

The book is equal parts fun and education. I loved the little facts like sassafras twigs making great marshmallow roasting sticks, but I also appreciated all the very practical guidance, like how to avoid attracting stinging insects while outside.

The author covers lots of topics like tree identification, bird watching, star gazing and attracting butterflies, but you won’t find tons of illustrations to help you identify trees, etc. However, Christopher does a great job of directing you to books that offer more details. Look for the sections called “Book Nook.” I actually purchased a couple of the books suggested as birthday gifts for a nephew. One of them is called Wild Tracks!: A Guide to Nature’s Footprintsand it’s lovely for a little one interested in prints left behind by wildlife. While The Green Hour gives you lots of resources and references, my small complaint is that it lacks a subject index. Some of us nerds do still use such things.

But what’s the key reason the author wrote The Green Hour? Unfortunately, we live in a time when researchers at the University of Maryland say that kids spend less than one-half hour a week on outdoor and nature-based activities. This lack of time with nature is helping to create very high rates of childhood obesity, attention deficit and (in case you haven’t already noticed) media addiction! Christopher wants to call attention to this problem and give you, the parents, tools to help turn the situation around.

Even if your kids already enjoy the outdoors, you’ll still learn plenty in The Green Hour. It’s an all-around charming book that never preaches, but still manages to teach plenty.

(I received a complimentary review copy of The Green Hour. Read more about this site’s disclosures.)

2 Responses to “Book Review: The Green Hour”

  1. Jennifer on May 27, 2010 2:25 am

    Ok, your review makes me want to read this. I rarely feel that way after reading a book review but the adorable little facts won me over. I’ll have to get this and review it too or at least recommend it if it’s cool. Last comment of the night I swear 😉 I’m catching up on all my blogs I read tonight hence all the comments at once.

  2. Peggy on May 27, 2010 1:38 pm

    Hey Jennifer. I’ll send you an email on where you can get this. Glad you liked the review. I really did like the book.

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