In June, world leaders will be meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to discuss the state of the environment. This meeting marks the twentieth anniversary of the first Earth Summit, which was organized by the United Nations.
Although we are more aware than ever about the importance of protecting the planet, we are still damaging it on a daily basis. Because of this, weather patterns are increasingly
unpredictable and many parts of the world are suffering from water scarcity. We also continue to extract oil and other metals from the earth without considering the environmental and human impact. And the lack of collective and coherent efforts to change our ways will only exacerbate these problems. As this conference approaches, parents can take the opportunity to introduce kids to the challenges ahead; hopefully it will encourage young people to reflect, discuss and, ultimately, take action for a better world.
Under the Weather: Stories About Climate Change
(Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, $20.50) by Tony Bradman – Ages 8-12
This collection of short stories brings a human face to the impact of climate change. The stories take place in locations around the world from Australia to Zambia. For example, one story is about a young orphaned girl named Chandrika who works on a tea plantation in Sri Lanka. The summer is hotter than normal, which causes an increase in the number of mosquitoes that spread malaria. The young girl contracts the disease and describes the suffering and pain that accompanies this lethal, yet treatable sickness. The story’s author, Karen Ball, conveys not only the physical pain of malaria but the devastating impact it has on the families who must cope with the illness, and all too often, the death of a loved one. The strength of this collection is the ability of the storytellers to show readers the link between climate change and how it actually affects our lives.
Not a Drop to Drink: Water for a Thirsty World
(National Geographic, $21) by Michael Burgan – Ages 9-14
One of the most significant consequences of climate change is the growing scarcity of water. Drought and flooding have become more common, making farming and growing food increasingly difficult. Many predict that the future will be wrought with conflict over this precious resource. Already some parts of the world, particularly Africa, are suffering from limited access to clean water. In this book, part of National Geographic’s Investigate series, author Michael Burgan delves into the intricate science of water around the world. He covers nearly all facets of this resource, from deep sea exploration to water consumption.
In typical National Geographic form, the book features stunning photographs, detailed and interesting maps and other lively illustrations that help to make this complex subject easy to grasp and reinforces the important message that without water there is no future.
A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids: Understanding Climate Change and What you Can Do About It
(Green Goat Books, $15.97) by Julie Hall – Ages 9-14
The issues surrounding the environment are complex and young people might feel overwhelmed and disempowered about what they can do to make a difference. This book lets them know in clear, simple language what actions they can take. Author Julie Hall explains the science of climate change but also offers suggestions to help the planet such as recycling cell phones and reducing consumption of water at home. She also inspires readers by profiling “eco-heroes” from around the world who are already striving for change. She gives young people a sense that a healthy planet is still possible and that they can contribute to positive change.