Earth Day: Resources to Foster Environmental Literacy

“Climate change makes all of our social ills worse. It speeds up or strengthens the bad effects of wars, racism, inequality, domestic violence, and lack of health care. What if, instead, it sped up or strengthened the forces that are working for peace, economic fairness, and social justice?

~~ Naomi Klein, 2021, How To Change Everything: The Young Human’s Guide to Protecting The Planet and Each Other, p. 286

(A version of this article first appeared in Kingston Neighbours magazine, April, 2021.)

Spring has sprung! As nature reawakens this month, our thoughts turn to the environment. April 22, 2021, marks the 51st annual Earth Day. This year’s focus is on education and with good reason. Climate change will have an unfair impact on our world’s younger generation; they will inherit unprecedented and potentially catastrophic problems. According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), some of the effects of climate change include: 

  • Warmer atmosphere: increases smog, water contamination and (disease-carrying) insects
  • More acidic oceans: harms coral reefs, plankton and shellfish
  • Melting glaciers: increases sea levels and loss of animal habitats
  • More extreme weather: stronger hurricanes and storms, more wildfires
  • Changing precipitation patterns: more flooding or droughts, crop damage, unpredictable water supply

Therefore, developing strong climate and environmental literacy in school-aged children is a major goal in climate restoration. Get your kids started now with some of these latest resources.

Local Programs

  1. Many community-based agencies and universities offer day and overnight camps with environmental and conservation themes for kids. Check your local organizations for more information.

** NOTE: Please call or visit the camps’ websites to learn if the camps will be virtual or in-person for Summer, 2021. 

Books for Parents and Educators

  1. Our House Is On Fire: Scenes Of A Family and Planet In Crisis, 2020, Malena Ernman — An unflinching account of how one family’s personal crises became linked to the climate crisis, written by the mother of environmental activist, Greta Thunberg.
  2. How To Talk To Your Kids About Climate Change: Turning Angst Into Action, 2020, Harriet Shugarman — A guide for parents explaining how the climate crisis happened and offering both strategies for change and ideas on how to maintain hope in our kids.

Books for Younger Kids

  1. My Friend Earth, 2020, Patricia MacLachlan — A beautiful picture book celebrating our connection to the natural world.
  2. We Are Water Protectors, 2020, Carole Lindstrom, ill. Michaela Goade — From an Indigenous author-illustrator duo, a striking and lyrical book inspired by the many Indigenous-led protests to protect Earth’s water.  

Books for Older Kids

  1. Climate Crisis for Beginners, 2021, Eddie Reynolds — A clear introduction to what climate is, why it’s changing rapidly, what needs to happen and why change can be so difficult. 
  2. How To Change Everything: The Young Human’s Guide To Protecting The Planet And Each Other, 2021, Naomi Kein — A long-awaited release from writer and activist Naomi Klein explaining how humankind’s quest for fossil-fuel energy has created our climate crisis and offering tools for action. 
  3. You Can Change The World: The Kids’ Guide To A Better Planet, 2020, Lucy Bell — A kid-friendly guide to environmental sustainability, including everyday actions like mending clothes and avoiding single-use plastics.

  From knowledge comes action, and from action comes positive change and a brighter, more sustainable future. Let’s help our kids develop their climate literacy today, so that they can have hope for a better tomorrow.

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