Warming Bedtime Stories

As a parent, one real challenge is how to deal with the most serious issues, how to communicate the world’s ills without terrifying and creating utter despair while remaining honest.  

Might it be surprising that the dinner table conversation in my household can range from Constitutional violations to terrorism to national debt to health care to environmental challenges.  How do you explain 9/11 to a five-year old anyway?

Well, as one actively working to help find (and shape) a path toward a sustainable and prosperous future, my challenge is often toward Global Warming and children.  

And, the National Wildlife Foundation (NWF) has just put the Climate Classroom online.

Let’s take a tour together …

On initial pass through, Climate Classroom seems to offer quite valuable material, with sections for teachers, parents, and kids.  As they describe it:

ClimateClassroom.org helps educate children about global climate change in accurate, developmentally appropriate, and hopeful ways. Sections designed for parents and K-12 educators provide talking points, attractive visuals, instructional guidelines, and helpful resource links for investigating the topic with children. An additional section for school-age children offers quality learning experiences and realistic suggestions for becoming part of the global-warming solution.

The related Green Hour is a real joy — thoughts and advice as to spending an hour outdoors, each day, as family with your children.  (Minor problem — no instructions as to blogging while on a nature stroll with the kids.)

Back to Climate Classroom for a moment, here are five kids questions:

You know these are good questions and the links above provide NWF’s outlined answers — pretty well done.

But, come on, where are the real tough questions? Here are real ones that I’ve faced from young children:

  • Does Global Warming mean the world is going to burn up?
  • How come the school uses styrofoam in the classroom?
  • Why did you adults do this to us?
  • Why are we killing all the animals?

In fact, when speaking with children, a key is to remain factual, to inform, to educate, but not to terrify, to inspire hope rather than incite horror.  It is a delicate line to maintain and Climate Classroom looks like it will be useful for that navigation challenge.

To be honest, however, this is a rather basic website at this time, we can exhaust the resources on the site itself quickly but we can expect that it will develop further.  For other Global Warming websites oriented toward children, see, for example, the EPA’s Climate Change site (elementary school) and John Hopkins’ EcoHealth101.

Bedtime Stories

Well, the diary title talks to bedtime stories. So, for a couple online available books, For a good cartoon book, there is Ozzy Ozone — Defender of Our Planet (pdf).

There are an increasing number of books out there, such as Why are the ice caps melting?, Global Warming, and The Future of the Earth: An Introduction to Sustainable Development for Young Readers.

When it comes to an actual bedtime story for Global Warming, my favorite is Tore and Town on Thin Ice (pdf of the book) (available in five languages).   Is it because my kids will happily sit through it and ask questions? No.  But that is a definitely strong point.  Is it because the author, Carole Douglis, is a fellow Climate Project trainee?  No, but I always like opening a book written by a friend or acquaintance (even more if I enjoy it).  Is it because Senator Inhofe (R-Exxon) attacked it?  Okay, you’ve got me, an Inhofe attack is an indication of something worthwhile.

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