Gail F. Melson, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita of Human Development and Family Studies at Purdue University. She received a Ph.D in Developmental Psychology from Michigan State University. She has been an active researcher on child development and family relationships for over thirty years. Her books include Why the Wild Things Are: Animals in the Lives of Children (Harvard University Press, 2001); Child Development: Individual, Family, and Society (West, 1988, with Alan Fogel); and Origins of Nurturance: Developmental, Biological, and Cultural Perspectives on Caregiving (Erlbaum, 1986, with Alan Fogel) as well as sixty scholarly articles and book chapters. Her research centers on the role of animals, nature, and technology in child development, and she lectures and consults widely on these topics.
Why the Wild Things Are explores how animals and nature influence children and families. Animals not only share children’s homes as pets, but live in children’s imaginations and media. As 21st century children lead more urbanized lives, what is the impact of nature deprivation? How can animals be therapeutic and educational agents? How can nature enrich children’s lives? How do children develop to be stewards or despoilers of the environment? These are some of the questions this blog explores.