University News

FYE Common Reading

April 27, 2007

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MACOMB, IL -- Richard Louv's "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" narrowly beat the competition to claim its place as the common reading for Western Illinois University's 2007-2008 First Year Experience (FYE) program.

"Never before in our history have children been so separated from nature," Louv said during a CBS Early Show interview. "They can tell you anything about the Amazon rain forest, but they can't tell you about the last time they went out in the woods and watched the leaves move."

In his book, Louv writes about the growing concerns revolving around children spending more time in the safety of their homes instead of playing in the beauty of the outdoors.

"Although the author gives quite a bit of attention to the effects of this trend on children in terms of their own health and well-being, he also considers the effects this trend will have on environmentalism in the future," said Matt Blankenship, faculty associate for the FYE program in Western's Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research and associate professor of psychology.

According to Blankenship, "Last Child in the Woods" will be used as a starting point for the campuswide discussion of the 2007-08 University theme "Global Challenges and Personal Responsibility: Environmental Sustainability." The book will be a required read for incoming freshmen and will be used as a link between other campus activities.

About 2,700 people voted on the FYE program's 2007-08 common reading during a
Spring 2007 campuswide survey. "Last Child in the Woods" was chosen over such others as "Garbage Land" and "Field Notes from a Catastrophe."

The FYE Committee provides support for the common reading program by purchasing the book for all incoming students, and WIU's Leslie F. Malpass Library runs a resource webpage for the book and collects resources related to the reading so that students can complete relevant research projects.

For more information on Louv and "Last Child in the Woods," visit

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