Book Review: “Balanced and Barefoot” by Angela J. Hanscom

Parents these days can find books on ALL things parenting.

From breastfeeding to how to raise a teenager you can get information to help make parenting life a little bit easier.

However, if you’re looking for a book that applies to infancy, toddler, preschool, school-age, pre-teen, teenager, young adult, adult, and everything in between that will provide you with simple strategies for parenting “Balanced and Barefoot” by Angela J. Hanscom should be your next read!

“Balanced and Barefoot” motivates parents to make getting their children outside a priority.

balanced and barefoot book review

Angela Hanscom begins the book by making herself completely relatable to us parents. She explains how she has children of her own and once struggled to get her children outdoors on a regular basis. She shares her struggles and acknowledges the difficulty in raising children.

Angela shares staggering statistics about the state of our world’s children. She illustrates the fact that children today are spending a great deal of the little free time they have in front of a screen. She explains the effect that children’s reduced time in nature is having on their physical and mental health. Rates of ADHD, anxiety, obesity, and various other conditions are becoming a thing of the norm.

Part of this is due to our societal expectation to keep our children as “safe” as possible. “Safe” is an ambiguous word in “Balanced and Barefoot”. Angela challenges the current definition of what it means to keep a child “safe” by explaining that exposing them to outdoor activities allows them to learn the ability to assess risk, which keeps them safer long term. She offers great tips to allow for “safe” risk taking-tips that made me feel more comfortable as a parent and that I could easily implement with my children.

barefoot and balanced

“Balanced and Barefoot” gets into the fine and gross motor benefits for children when they’re outside. The things that we might initially deem insignificant are actually incredibly beneficial. Walking on grass, playing with sand, and climbing in trees provide children with large and small motor development that is crucial and can’t be found anywhere other than in nature.

Balanced and barefoot

As a parent reading this book, I appreciated Angela’s tactful approach to her opinions on children having unstructured, unsupervised play. She recognizes that not all parents are in a situation where allowing their children to play unsupervised is feasible or comfortable. Instead of forcing the matter, she provides alternatives that still allow the child to receive the same benefits. While she doesn’t necessarily condone modern play structures or indoor play centers, she does appreciate that they have become a part of our society’s day to day lives with children. She doesn’t attempt to deter parents from using these facilities-she simply points out why natural spaces are superior.

balanced and barefoot book review

“Balanced and Barefoot” is a well-researched, comprehensive guide to getting children outdoors for parents of children from infant to teens, as well as for professionals who work with children. It affirms to parents who take their children outside in any fashion that they’re providing their child with invaluable experiences, while offering suggestions to further that practice.

I highly recommend this book! I borrowed a copy from the library but went out and purchased my own copy to keep on my book shelf for reference.