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Our parents, staff and supporters are finding these media resources helpful for understanding the challenges facing young people in their embrace of nature and the world around them.

Last Child in the Woods – Richard Louv

In this groundbreaking work, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation―he calls it nature deficit―to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as rises in obesity, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and depression.

Some startling facts: By the 1990s the radius around the home where children were allowed to roam on their own had shrunk to a ninth of what it had been in 1970. Today, average eight-year-olds are better able to identify cartoon characters than native species, such as beetles and oak trees, in their own community. The rate at which doctors prescribe antidepressants to children has increased, and recent studies show that too much computer use spells trouble for the developing mind.

Wilderness Works Reading List Book Cover Engage Connect Protect
Engage, Connect, Protect – Angelou Ezeilo

Engage, Connect, Protect explodes the myth that environmental issues are primarily of interest to wealthy White communities.

Revealing the deep and abiding interest that African American, Latino, and Native American communities – many of whom live in degraded and polluted parts of the country – have in our collective environment, Engage, Connect, Protect is part eye-opening critique of the cultural divide in environmentalism, part biography of a leading social entrepreneur, and part practical toolkit for engaging diverse youth. It covers:

  • Why communities of color are largely unrecognized in the environmental movement
  • How to bridge the cultural divide and activate a new generation of environmental stewards
  • A curriculum for engaging diverse youth and young adults through culturally appropriate methods and activities
  • Resources for connecting mainstream America to organizations working with diverse youth within environmental projects, training, and employment
Wilderness Works Reading List Book Cover The Adventure Gap
The Adventure Gap – James Mills

The nation’s wild places―from national and state parks to national forests, preserves, and wilderness areas―belong to all Americans. But not all of us use these resources equally. Minority populations are much less likely to seek recreation, adventure, and solace in our wilderness spaces. It’s a difference that African American author James Mills addresses in his new book, The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors.

Breaking Boundaries: The Science Behind Our Planet – Johan Rockström and Owen Gaffney

On the brink of a critical moment in human history, this audiobook presents a vision of “planetary stewardship” – a rethinking of our relationship with our planet – and plots a new course for our future. 

The authors, whose work is the subject of a new Netflix documentary released in summer 2021 and narrated by Sir David Attenborough, reveal the full scale of the planetary emergency we face – but also how we can stabilize Earth’s life support system. 

The necessary change is within our power if we act now. 

Desert Solitaire – Edward Abbey

Often compared to Thoreau’s WaldenDesert Solitaire is a powerful discussion of life’s mysteries set against the stirring backdrop of the American southwestern wilderness.

Untamed – Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall continues to leave the modern world with an extraordinary legacy and has changed the scientific community forever. A girl of humble beginnings and training, she made scientific breakthroughs thought impossible by more experienced field observers when she was only in her twenties. Then these animals shaped Jane’s life. She began tirelessly fighting to protect the environment so that chimpanzees and other animals will continue have a place and a future on our planet. Read a recent interview here, to see Mrs. Goodall’s continuing affection for the natural world.

The Overstory – Richard Powers

The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of―and paean to―the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers’s twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. 

Young People’s Books

Wilderness Works' Reading list Book Cover
Grandad’s Prayers of the Earth – Douglas Wood

Grandad is the boy’s best friend. Being with him always makes the world seem right. And how vast that world is: a world of tall trees that reach for the clouds and sun and moon and stars — and what else is reaching for heaven but a prayer? Each time he and Grandad walk in the woods, the boy listens for the prayers of the earth. And finally the boy asks: “Are our prayers answered?” 

Brother Eagle, Sister Sky – Susan Jeffers

The Earth does not belong to us. We belong to the Earth. The great American Indian Chief Seattle spoke these words over a hundred years ago. His remarkably relevant message of respect for the Earth and every creature on it has endured the test of time and is imbued with passion born of love of the land and the environment. 

The Talking Eggs – Robert D. San Souci

The author of such delights as The Christmas Ark and The Enchanted Tapestry joins forces with illustrator Pinkney to resurrect a colorful folktale that captures the unique flavor of the American South. A 1989 Caldecott Honor Book.


That’s Wild – A Film by Michiel Thomas

Growing up in Atlanta can be hard as highlighted by three real-life protagonists in That’s Wild. Clifford (16) tries to fill the void of his incarcerated father, Ahmani (13) struggles with the aftermath of a homeless childhood, and Nicholas (13) grapples with episodes of depression.
​When the boys sign up for the after-school program, Wilderness Works, they quickly begin to unpack the negative pressures that dominate their day-to-day lives. An adventurous backpacking summer trip in the heart of the Colorado wilderness, takes these teenagers through rapid rivers, high-altitudes and 12,000 ft snow capped peaks, all while overcoming their own personal mountains.

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