Given the high profile of climate change and a rise in climate activism amongst the youth of the world, it’s little surprise that the theme for the 50th Earth Day is climate activism. I am about to share with you all some titles which I hope will inform pupils about some of the global issues caused by climate change, raise awareness of the difference they as individuals can make and promote discussion at home and at school.
‘Big Bear Hug,’ by Nicholas Oldland (Pikku Publishing)
This title is part of an award-winning series about valuing the natural world and conservation. In ‘Big Bear Hug,’ we meet a bear who, of all the loving things in the wood, loves to hug trees the most. When the bear encounters a man carrying an axe, gazing up at a tree for a very long time, he presumed the man must love trees as much as him. However, all is not as bear thought and he finds himself having to suppress the urge to act more like a bear and carry on doing what he does best.
An excellent board book for promoting the ideas of conservation and educating others for the very littlest of bookworms. 2+
‘Elephant in my Kitchen!’ by Smitri Halls, illustrated by Ella Okstad (Egmont Publishing)
When Rafi’s house is invaded by a hoarde of wild animals, licking his ice pops and trashing his room, his first response is to get mad. But when he sits down and listens to just why the creatures are causing such mayhem, Rafi realises that he has to put together a plan to help the animals get back to their own homes. And quickly!
With a little help from his friends, Rafi puts ‘The Big Plan’ into action. If they are to save the animals’ homes, everyone will need to change their ways and work together to help fix the damage humans have been causing to the world we share.
A funny and positive picture book with an important underlying message about protecting our planet and taking action. Whatever your age and in whichever ways you can. 3+
‘The Last Tree’ by Emily Haworth-Booth (Pavilion Books)
When a group of friends were searching for a place to settle, they tried many places until they found somewhere they could call home – a beautiful green forest with leaves for shelter and a gentle breeze. But as the seasons changed the friends used the wood from the trees to build fires, then shelters, then walls until there was just one tiny insignificant sapling left. The more wood they used, the more they needed.
It soon became clear that it was down to the children to find a solution to the problem.
Beautifully written and illustrated, this story is presented in graphic novel form and reads like a warning fable about our relationship with the natural world and only taking what we need. It encourages readers to look outwards and think more widely about the world. The story can be enjoyed by all ages, but perhaps the message will be more easily understood by slightly older children.
‘Eco Rangers: Wildfire Rescue,’ by Candice Lemon-Scott (New Frontier Publishing)
This title is the third in the Eco Rangers series and would be a great read for anyone aged six and up. In this newest installment, the Eco Rangers find themselves confronted with a large number of animal casualties following a devastating wildfire in the bushland. Following the rescue of an injured possum, best friends, Ebony and Jay, realise that people had been camping in the area that was destroyed? Why were they there what were they doing?
This is a very timely installment in the series, following the terrible bushfires experienced across Australia at the start of 2020 – but it’s publication at that time was purely coincidental! It would work well in the classroom in conjunction with news clips from a children’s news site such as Newsround.
‘Generation Hope’ by Kimberlie Hamilton, illustrations by Risa Rodil (Scholastic)
Climate activism has dominated the news in recent months. Inspired by the actions of Greta Thunberg, the youth of the world have united to fight for change. For all our sakes.
This book features young activists, all under the age of twenty, who have been working hard to try and repair some of the damage we’ve done to our planet. Some of their actions have been big, and some have been smaller. Some we can replicate at home ourselves.
The activists are organised into several short, snappy sessions with an explanation of the area of concern, biographies of the inspirational youths who have been fighting to make changes in these areas, and try at home tips. Best suited to readers aged 9+
’Planet SOS,’ by Marie G. Rohde (What On Earth Books)
This is a totally fresh take on explaining some of the threats facing our environment. Twenty-two threats are compared to modern day mythical monsters. There’s the all-seeing, all-knowing Ozone Serpent, nibbling away at our ozone layer. Or the Road Snake, pushing animals and plants to one side, letting pollution-soaked rain run off its tarmac scales and into rivers and streams. You’ll also be able to find out about plastic pollution, e-waste, deforestation and lots more.
Readers can use the clever coded Monster Cards to learn how to defeat these monsters by making small changes to their own lives to help reduce their carbon footprints. Ingenious and absorbing. 9+
What could you do to make a difference – big or small?
*Many thanks to all the publishers who sent me these titles to review*