Climate change; plastic waste; the sixth mass extinction; right now, discussions about the future of our planet can be scary ground, and it’s really hard not to paint a bleak picture of the future! This can make talking to children about the planet very difficult, and while we want them to be clued up and conscientious, we don’t want to cause our children anxiety.
Eco-anxiety is really a thing now, a rational fear brought about by worry about the planet’s future, so if you’re looking to broach this subject with your children before the media does, here are some books to soften the blow and help to find the right way to talk to our children about the planet.
For Young Readers
The Earth Book – Todd Parr
If we want to get into good habits regarding the planet, it’s best to start early! And this simple to read book for very young children full of advice and guidance on how to go green and how that saves the world, such as “I turn off the taps when I brush my teeth because I like fish”.
What a Waste – Jess French
It seems that one of the biggest threats to the planet right now is our own waste! We are literally drowning in plastic and it’s pretty scary. What a Waste looks at trash, recycling and protecting the planet, and it isn’t all doom and gloom, as the book tells how small changes can make a big impact!
The Earth and I – Frank Asch
Modern life can give us a bit of a disconnect with nature, and children in particular can benefit from what the great outdoors has to offer. “The Earth and I are friends,” the book begins. “Sometimes we go for walks together. I tell her what’s on my mind. She listens to every word.” We’re reminded that although it seems like nature will always be there for us like a dear old friend, we cannot take it for granted.
Compost Stew – Mary McKenna Sidals
Many of the books in this genre give an all round view of the planet and what we need to do, but others, such as Compost Stew, are designed to promote the habits that will help to save the planet, such as this children’s guide to composting!
For Older Readers
The Lost Words – Robert McFarlane
Back in 2007, a new edition of the Oxford Children’s Dictionary was released, and in it, words such as acorn, adder, bluebell, dandelion, fern, heron, kingfisher, newt, otter, and willow were replaced with others, such as attachment, blog, broadband, bullet-point, cut-and-paste, and voice-mail. The news of these substitutions ― the outdoor and natural being displaced by the indoor and virtual ― became seen by many as a powerful sign of the growing gulf between childhood and the natural world. This book is designed to conjure back this special words from nature.
Storm in a Teacup – Helen Czerski
To understand nature and climate, we must understand physics, or at least the basics. Czerski provides the tools to alter the way we see everything around us by linking ordinary objects and occurrences, like popcorn popping, coffee stains, and fridge magnets, to big ideas like climate change, the energy crisis, or innovative medical testing.