How to Raise a Wild Child

The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature

by Scott D. Sampson

Number of pages: 352

Publisher: Mariner Books

BBB Library: Parenting

ISBN: 978-0544705296

About the Author

Scott Sampson is a dinosaur paleontologist, science communicator, and passionate advocate for connecting people with nature. He serves as executive director at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. He is perhaps best known as “Dr. Scott,” host and science advisor of the Emmy-nominated PBS KIDS television series Dinosaur Train, produced by the Jim Henson Company.


Editorial Review

The average American child spends only four to seven minutes a day outdoors. Those same children devote more than seven hours daily to staring at screens, replacing reality with virtual alternatives. Most boys rack up more than 10,000 gaming hours before the age of twenty-one. Children can now recognize greater than a thousand corporate logos, but fewer than ten plants native to their region. The net result is what author Robert Michael Pyle has dubbed “the extinction of experience,” highlighted by the gaping chasm between children and nature. How to Raise a Wild Child is a timely and engaging antidote, offering teachers, parents, and other caregivers the necessary tools to engender a meaningful, lasting connection between children and the natural world.

Book Reviews

“Sampson proposes making cities more nature-friendly by creating more green school yards, reintroducing native species and linking parks through networks of trails. How to Raise a Wild Child is stocked with valuable ideas and deserves attention from policy makers, educators and activists, as well as the parents of 21st-century kids.”

“Written for parents, teachers, and caregivers, Sampson describes three goals: make readers aware of how much we have become disconnected from nature and why this disconnect is harmful to our children; describe the process of getting connected at each age, from toddler to teen; and help adults become nature mentors to the children in their lives. It doesn’t matter where you live, he makes clear: “The best place to fall in love with nature is wherever you happen to be.”

Books on Related Topics

Wisdom to Share

The average American child spends only four to seven minutes a day outdoors.

A deep connection with nature doesn’t arise only through periodic trips to natural parks or other wilderness.

Start a habit of getting the children in your life into nature more often.

Take some time to discover the varieties of nature close to your home and explore these places with your children.

Encourage children to notice nature with you.

Experience alone isn’t enough. Learning is also critical. Understanding can transform the familiar into something wondrous.

From books to websites to movies, nature-related media offers powerful tools to promote nature connection. Books are arguably the best because they encourage imagination.

We can think of a mentor not only as a trusted advisor but as something of a trickster who helps another awaken to their full potential.

Nature mentors value the natural world and demonstrate it as much through actions as words.

Science is the human endeavor aimed at unraveling nature’s secrets.