Telling children bad news about the environment is tricky business. How can environmental disasters-or potential disasters like global warming-be presented in a way that informs children but doesn’t disconnect them from nature? That empowers them without scaring them indoors?
That dilemma was at the top of the editor’s mind at Dawn Publications when he first saw the book proposal by Lynne Cherry and Gary Braasch that became How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate. After all, news about global warming is so bad that many young people question whether a world will even exist for them to inherit.
Fortunately, young people have been involved with climate science for a long time. From 1900 to 1923, students all over Nova Scotia, Canada, collected data on the first arrival of various bird species, the first fruiting of various trees, first autumn frosts, and so on. This data has been important to compare with existing data. The authors discovered that some leading climate scientists are working with young people in the U.S. Russia, and elsewhere. Young people have also spearheaded climate solutions, such as the campaign to cut back on school bus idling.
By emphasizing the involvement of young people and targeting the middle school audience, the book is well suited for young people and has a decidedly hopeful, forward-looking tone. The editor consulted Prof. David Sobel of Antioch University New England, a leading advocate for age-appropriateness in children’s environmental literature. Sobel examined the manuscript and ended up writing an introduction. “Empowerment needs to be a core element of the approach,” he wrote. “This book invites you to empower students.”
How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate is now available in a paperback version!