Environmental issues for kids through story telling
One of Jacob's birthday presents is the new book by Graeme Base, Uno's Garden, which was from my parents. (It was my suggestion actually…) I think it is a lovely book, and want to share it with you. I haven't had time to think it through enough to write my own review, so I'm quoting from the review of Uno's Garden from the ABC website arts blog, Articulate:
[Base] has turned his attention to the balance between humankind's development and the environment; using numbers, puzzles and his fantastical illustrations to explore the issue.For a while now, my partner and I have been talking about how to introduce environmental issues to Jacob. We want him to know about the drought and the importance of saving water, and about global warming and saving electricity, but we want to do this in ways that don't scare him with end-of-the-world scenarios and paralyse him with fear. We want him to be part of the solution - to know how we can act to reverse this.
Base told Articulate he believes the book, though sad in parts, is ultimately an optimistic story about how human beings can learn to live within their environment.
"There is a sad moment but in any tale in any story, you do tend to go to a sad or a dark place before you begin that ramp back up to the end and this is no exception. The important thing about that moment in the book is that it is the garden that lives on. It's Uno's legacy and it's very, very empowering and it's all to do with Uno's children and grandchildren taking that legacy and then discovering the animals again and making sure that when they rebuild their city, that the numbers are in control."
I think that children's stories, such as Uno's Garden, are a great way to do this because they are fun, entertaining, and engage all their senses. If you're interested in other children's writers and illustrators who tackle environmnental issues, I suggest Jeannie Baker, whose books (Where the Forrest Meets the Sea, Rosie Dock and others) introduce kids to environmentally ideas very subtly, and Allison Lester, whose Are We There Yet? (which I've reviewed here previously) introduces kids to the natural wonders of Australia through the adventure of travel.
The key things to remember are kids don't want to feel they're being preached to or that they are 'learning' something, or that their environmentally-conscious actions, such as turning lights off and taking shorter showers, are onerous. Make it fun, as these books do.