Loving Nature/Caring About the Planet by Moderator Jennifer Emmett

[Blog Editor: Thank you Jennifer Emmett for your informative and lively moderation these past few weeks! Many of the books mentioned throughout the thread of posts would inspire anyone at any age. ]

I have greatly enjoyed guest blogging for this exhibit on the theme of Connecting Children with Nature Through American Literature, and I look forward to continuing to participate in the discussions guided by future moderators. For my last post, I’d like to address another category of books that help connect kids to nature: books that promote environmental stewardship. At National Geographic, our mission is to inspire people to care about the planet, so we are always looking to incorporate conservation themes in our books where appropriate and relevant.

When taking on environmental topics for kids, we try to keep the issues positive and hands-on, so that kids feel like they can be part of the solution and don’t end up feeling stymied or daunted. And we try to avoid being overly didactic, which is almost always a turnoff to a young audience.

Two of our recent titles have had a strong environmental focus, seriously addressing the issues but with a positive spin: Earth in the Hot Seat: Bulletins From a Warming World, and True Green Kids.

In Earth in the Hot Seat, author MarfĂ© Ferguson Delano clearly explains the threat of global warming, but doesn’t leave kids with a sense of gloom and doom. Instead she offers concrete solutions for how kids can help, and she also gives lots of examples of people who make a difference for the health of our planet.

True Green Kids is a high-energy practical approach that offers up 100 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet, including creating a worm farm or growing an “edible garden” for snack-time.

As a mother, I know kids are very open to being responsible caretakers of the planet. My second-grade daughter picks up trash at the park, monitors water usage in our house, and says one of her favorite activities is recycling. It is encouraging to see conservation enthusiasm from the youngest generation. And, of course, the impulse toward environmental stewardship is almost always rooted in a love of nature. Connecting kids to nature in order to inspire that love, be it through books, or in other ways, benefits them, naturally, but goes beyond that. Ultimately, it helps create a generation who will benefit the Earth.

What books do you think help inspire kids to care about the planet? Do you see the link between a love of nature and conservation? How are kids you know participating in environmental stewardship?


Lee said...

The growth of environmental education in classrooms over the last generation has been dramatic. And polling and behavioral change data shows the impact of that education on millennials (and presumably younger generations).

I wonder, though, where education stops and inspiration starts when it comes to environmental stewardship. I think it goes beyond an intellectual understanding of environmental problems. The most committed conservationists that I know were inspired as children to care about the natural world.

My guess is that we'll see the same thing for future generations. Which is why it's so important for those of us who want to leave a natural legacy to future generations, to make sure that our kids develop a genuine comfort level with the natural world and find their own inspiration.

Thanks to the National Conservation Training Center and to NatGeo for their work. And what a wonderful picture in this blog post!!

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