Richard Louv

Recipient of the Audubon Medal

Author of the International Bestseller Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder

From the Blog

The Special Meaning of a New Cover Design for "Last Child"

Not long ago, my great editor Amy Gash sent me the new jacket design of “Last Child in the Woods." The image has a special meaning for me. Neither Amy or the designer were, at that time, aware of a story I've told to only a few friends. I'll tell it here anyway.

When I was three or four, I was playing alone in the quince orchard at my grandmother’s house in Independence, Mo. I was running around. It was cold. I was wearing one of those hats with the earflaps. I came to a little ditch and jumped over it. Memories are tricky, I know this. But in the middle of the jump I froze in the air, looking down at leaves submerged in clear water.

At that instant, when the world stopped, I had an overwhelming feeling that there was something I needed to do in life. Then the world returned and I completed the jump. That’s it. Now, it’s possible that my grandmother, who was very kind, had said something to me that morning. Who knows? Nonetheless, for the rest of my life that memory would return, every detail clear.

The memory, in fact, haunted me. I always associated it with work. At every stage of my life, when I would do something—write a newspaper series, another book, whatever—I would ask myself, “Was that it?” It was never it.

By the time I was in my 50s, I felt that I had failed in life to do whatever it was I was supposed to do. Then, when “Last Child” was published in 2005, I was on a radio show one morning, and the calls started coming in. In that moment, as clear in its detail as the first memory, I knew I had done what I was supposed to do.

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