Wild Child by Patrick Barkham review – why children need nature

From blackberry picking to digging a pond … a perfect lockdown reminder of how having fun outdoors is essential for children, in cities as well as the countryside

There is a certain grim irony in Patrick Barkham’s book coming out during lockdown. His quiet but compelling arguments about the importance of kids getting out more and connecting to nature might appear slightly surreal at a time when children the world over have been so long stuck indoors. Barkham tells us how much the area over which children roam has shrunk over three generations; little can he have imagined when he wrote Wild Child how much more constrained their lives were about to become.

But precisely because of these extreme conditions, Wild Child is a book that deserves to flourish. A generation of children and parents is learning the harshest possible lesson about how precious our right to roam really is. Never have we valued our green spaces more, as the passionate rows over the closure of city parks attests. Never have we thirsted so viscerally for the natural world; with shops and entertainment venues closed, many of us have taken the time to appreciate the bulbs coming up, and the spring blossom on the trees. In the absence of cars, animals have been venturing into the streets, much to the delight of children everywhere (even if they have to watch it on YouTube).

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