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Book Review: The Green Hour

Reviewed by Katy Killilea

green hourRegarding happy children, the evidence is clear: one requirement is time outside in unstructured activity. GreenHour.org, a website of the National Wildlife Foundation, encourages families to carve out one hour every day for outdoor exploration and play. It’s hard to imagine an argument against that. And it doesn’t sound hard to do . . . unless it’s raining. Or icy. Or too hot. Or you’re busy. Or you just got a new Lego set. Or you prefer reading to all of life’s other pleasures.

Todd Christopher, the creator of GreenHour.org, gives us The Green Hour, a guide filled with simple ideas and activities that inspire outdoor creativity and discovery. One age-level leap above the beloved little I Love Dirt, the activities are simple, but the information goes deep enough for curious school-age minds. Wherever you are–your yard, in the woods, at the beach–this book has absorbing activities for all ages.

Digging into the earth that your very own home rests upon becomes an other-worldly adventure with this book as your guide. I love the way it offers both projects (make a worm jar; make a bagel bird feeder) and clear information (why there is wind; the courtship and mating of frogs) to help non-expert eyes see the natural world on a more intricate level.

Exploring nature doesn’t come naturally to all of us, and not every child gravitates to the study of leaves and bugs. But with The Green Hour, I Love Dirt, and in-person live inspiration from resources like Rhode Island Families in Nature, The Audubon Society of Rhode Island, and Norman Bird Sanctuary, all of us can learn enough to play along.

The details:

The Green Hour by Todd Christopher
$18 Trumpeter/Shambhala

Shambhala provided a review copy of this book. Kidoinfo does not have any undisclosed relationship with this publisher, and received no compensation for this review.

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  • The book addresses the difficulty to some extent. But not with the specificity of Jeanine, as above. And what she says is, really, all the advice we need: bring a snack and stay outside when you’re out already. I find now that my kids spend plenty of time outside, but most of it is on sports fields or playground equipment and not so much marveling at insects in the grass or the shapes of clouds like we used to do…

  • Interesting question, Marcia. I’m interested to learn if it’s in his book.

    I know that in my neighborhood, regardless of the weather/season, parents bring snacks to the bus stop and let their kids play outside for a short while before we all retreat in for dinner prep and homework. Anybody else have any good ideas?

  • This book sounds wonderful! I love your opening with all the reasons not to go out. With young kids, it’s easy to be out if they’re not yet in school. But once school starts, along comes homework. Combine that with early sunsets and lack of outdoor recess, it’s difficult to get kids out on school days. Does he address this in his book?.