These days, most discussions of nature focus on all that is going wrong: climate change, species extinction, toxic pollution, and other impending disasters. In the midst of this much-needed reflection, let us not forget our deep and intrinsic connection to the natural world — a bond that can motivate, sustain, and inform all our efforts. Nurturing children’s connection to nature is one crucial step in our multi-faceted struggle to save the planet, and in turn the solace of the natural world can also become a lifeline for many children.

Small children have an inherent attraction to nature. On a recent camping trip with my daughter, Cassidy, and her friend Julius, I witnessed this attraction in a vivid way. After a morning spent playing in and around playhouse-sized tree stumps and patiently watching banana slugs travel up their arms, Cassidy and Julius discovered a...

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