From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Your Child About the Environment (and Climate Change)

A conversation about the environment today includes making a plan for how to care for it.

Mar 11, 2024



From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Your Child About the Environment (and Climate Change)

Mar 11, 2024

As your child grows, they discover the world around them, beginning with sounds, shapes, and signs. Then, they learn about places beyond their house and street and eventually grasp that we live on Earth — the only home in space for humans, plants, and animals.

When talking to your child about the environment, picking out children's books about animals is a good place to start. That’s because it's one way kids can learn about the impact of climate change on the habitats of wildlife. It gives them context on where animals live and how certain habitats support these animals. This not only helps your child understand the concept of cause and effect, but it'll empower them to be responsible caretakers of the planet.

Talking about the environment can also happen organically in certain situations. For example, your child might drop a piece of trash on the ground, and in turn, you ask them to pick it up — explaining what would happen if no one else did. 

Invariably, your child will come across news and magazine articles that discuss the dangers of climate change, which experts say will be a significant topic in their lifetime. You’ll want to have a course of action for these discussions, too.

For its 100th anniversary, Scholastic spoke with experts to identify a set of tips, articles, and books that make starting a conversation with your child about the environment easier. These resources are part of a broader initiative, called Tough Topics, created to raise awareness around contemporary issues affecting children today.

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For children in elementary school:

There’s no better way to acquaint your child with environmental issues than with picture books like To Change a Planet and Fly Guy Presents: Weather, which teach kids about what actions they can take in order to help their planet through rhyme, verse, and fun illustrations in a way kids can understand and relate to.

The Magic School Bus series, a decades-long collaboration between author Joanna Cole and illustrator Bruce Degen, is another fun way to talk about the topic. This book series makes learning about the world and science simple and easy with the help of everyone’s favorite teacher, Ms. Frizzle. 

For older children approaching middle school and high school:

Students who want to learn more about the effects of climate change, the A True Book series offers an exciting reference set of books on natural disasters. Information-seekers will be captivated by the six-volume set, which features eye-catching page layouts, easy-to-understand infographics, quirky facts, and firsthand accounts of encounters with hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes, heat waves and droughts, tornadoes, and wildfires. 

In addition to breaking down the earth science behind these phenomena, each volume in the set has a chapter dedicated to the top jobs in that field of science along with a special focus on climate change.

Fiction is another wonderful medium to teach kids about the environment. Alan Gratz's Two Degrees and Rodman Philbrick's Wildfire spotlight the serious consequences of environmental disasters and what is truly at stake for humanity, as told from first-person fictional surival narratives.  

Meanwhile, Big Tree is perfect for kids in grades seven and up, and tells the story about Louise, a sycamore seedling destined to grow into a big tree. But when a fire takes her and her brother away from their mama tree, Louise and Merwin must now learn to survive and navigate a dangerous world full of meteors, dinosaurs, and volcanoes!

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