Why Kids Need to Learn About the Wild World

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written by Terry Lynn Johnson

Remember when you were young and roamed the woods? Maybe you recall the moment you first discovered a dragonfly emerge. Did you feel a sense of wonder? 

Perhaps you recall the pride you felt when you finally learned the correct angle needed to skip that stone. 

Or maybe you balanced on a log to cross a creek. Maybe you slipped on the wet moss and fell, skinned your knee, got wet. The next time you crossed on that log, you were a little more fearful, but you did it anyway. You did not step on the moss, and you made it to the other side! You felt victorious! 

Those days—full of wonder and discovery, were vital to your growth and self-awareness. I believe that every time you learn, conquer your fears, and win, you gain a little more confidence in yourself and your abilities. 

Wild places are a great setting to learn. And that’s what matters to me. 

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Writers tend to write about things that matter to them. When I wrote Rescue at Lake Wild, I wanted my characters to explore their wild setting. Also, I wanted to tell a funny, factual story about beavers. I mean, come on, they’re so cool! 

Some reviewers have said that by reading Rescue at Lake Wild, kids will be inspired to care about the environment. That is so awesome! We all know about the studies showing how kids who spend time in the outdoors grow up caring about the outdoors. We only have one Earth. I want everyone to have a sense of curiosity about the natural world. 

What I mainly hope though, is that reading the book will simply inspire kids to spend more time outdoors and discover their own wild nature. 

I hope that they tromp and ask and watch and poke around and grow and learn about their own abilities. 

I have found that a life of exploring the outdoors has helped me discover myself. And that has led to the amazing opportunity of writing books for kids, where I get to share my passions with young readers around the world. 

May there be kids everywhere falling off logs. 

Ten ways to encourage kids to get outdoors

  1. Always try to make it fun–it can be a game or a challenge. 
  2. Try geocaching–it’s a game and a challenge! 
  3. Try your hand at making a compass with a needle, a magnet, and a leaf.
  4. Join the Christmas Bird Count and learn some bird calls. 
  5. Join a frog watch in your area. Be part of the count every year.
  6. Build bat boxes and put them up where they will get lots of sun, and away from low-hanging branches. Good for your yard. Bats eat mosquitos!
  7. Build swallow houses. It is immensely gratifying having wildlife use something that you’ve built and put up. Or build a bee hotel
  8. Start a collection of rocks that look like other things. Such as this (photo) what does this rock look like? Rock hounding is something that can take hours. It’s very mesmerizing.
  9. Take a stick and insert it into a pocket of balsam fir resin. Place the stick on the surface of a lake or a pond and watch what happens.
  10. Read a fun, nature-inspired book together! 

About Terry Lynn Johnson

Terry Lynn Johnson writes about the wild with the wisdom and passion of someone who has spent her life working to preserve and protect it – both as a backcountry canoe ranger in Quetico Provincial Park and in her current job as a conservation officer with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. She lives at the edge of a lake in northern Ontario, Canada, where she loves watching all wildlife, including beavers. Visit her online at terrylynnjohnson.com Twitter: @TerryLynnJ Instagram: terry_lynn_johnson Video extra! Terry Lynn Johnson talks about the inspiration behind Rescue at Lake Wild here.

10 ways to get kids outdoors

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