Be Prepared by Moderator Jennifer Emmett

Rich Louv in Last Child in the Woods has noted that one reason people aren’t out in nature as much as they used to be is that nature for some people seems to have taken on a scary face. Mosquitoes, ticks, and birds carry sinister diseases such as Lyme or West Nile. In an age of increased parental supervision, the idea of setting kids loose in the woods may seem dangerous. One thing that books can do in helping children connect with nature is to inform and demystify. Kids are better able to cope with the challenges nature offers if they can follow the Boy Scout motto, and “Be prepared.”

In Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George, Miyax/Julie is alone and lost in the wilderness, struggling to survive. Her Eskimo heritage has given her the expertise she needs to survive. But first she must harness her fear in order to succeed. As she does, she connects even more deeply to nature and to herself: “Out here she understood how she fitted into the scheme of the moon and stars and the constant rise and fall of life on the earth.”

National Geographic’s book, How to Survive Anything, takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to survival. Middle-school age kids who read this book will be prepared to survive more than just nature’s challenges. With this book, they can take on life. The subtitle says it all, How to Survive Anything: Shark Attack, Lightning, Embarrassing Parents, Pop Quizzes, and Other Perilous Situations.

Humorous art that shows right and wrong situations (for example, on “How to Survive Lightning,” Right: get out of the pool; Wrong: talk on the phone in the bathtub while flying your kite out the window) reinforces the survival tips.

Information is power. Julie used her knowledge and self-confidence and survived one of the wildest places on Earth. Kids who read her story will be inspired to have their own nature adventures, and when armed with information that helps them know how to meet their own challenges, their comfort level in nature will improve.

Have you read Julie of the Wolves? What’s your take on it? Tell us your favorite part. Do you have a good nature survival story? Please share your thoughts and comments!


Samantha said...

Julie of the Wolves is one of my favorite novels it inspired me to want to live in a cold climate and have adventures with my golden retriever. After reading your post Jennifer I was inspired to look up Jean Craighead George, the author, to see what adventures she is up to. If anyone is interested please go to the images and words by George will inspire you.

Christian Thalacker said...

This is a classic "dig deeper" comment from the Brain Trust at National Geographic.

Google search:

Biblical tests, feats of endurance and equanimity of the highest order.

Inspiring yes.

Having been raised by several alpha females, I will attest to their protective spirit.

One hopes that National Geographic explores deeper.

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