Our Children, our Future: Education for sustainability in five exquisite and thought-provoking books

Image by  Emily Gravett

Image by Emily Gravett

“Children are our most valuable resource.” — Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States

In this blog, we try to raise awareness around sustainability issues and inspire changes in human behaviour, towards ways of living that are ecologically, economically, socially, and personally more sustainable. Within this scope, a special role is played by education for sustainability to young children. We believe that our children need the knowledge and skills to understand the problems we are facing to be able to take actions to resolve them. Young children are very receptive. They understand the beauty and magic of Nature and can easily grasp the interconnectedness between ourselves and our environment. They are responsive and empathic, and spontaneously relate to other people’s lives. By engaging them and transferring relevant information we can help them embrace positive attitude and become advocates of a more responsible and respectful relationship with our planet and society.

With the Winter Holidays break fast approaching, we thought of suggesting stories and books that caught our attention for their important messages and the ability to convey them in an engaging and entertaining way. In this first episode, we focus on books for young children.

1.     The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

This is an enchanting tale with environmental themes and beautiful illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms. Liam, the city gardener is a really wonderful character. The garden taking over the previously lifeless city and the change from a grey and depressing urban wasteland to a blooming, green metropolis is in many ways truly magical and inspiring. 

2.     Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers

This book by the renewed illustrator and children’s author Oliver Jeffers, is a fantastic read to make us all think about how remarkable the Earth really is. “The big globe, floating in space, on which we live,” as Jeffers puts it, is a delicate ecosystem, home to many billions of people and animals, which we should take care of.  It is a beautiful, heart-warming book that contains an important message – to be kind, and take care of the Earth, as it really is all we have.

3.     Tidy by Emily Gravett

Tidy is the story of a badger, Pete, that likes everything to be neat and tidy at all times, but whose overenthusiastic neatness ends with the complete destruction of the forest! Gravett delivers the message of environmental preservation with subtlety and humour and it is the perfect book for reading aloud thanks to the funny rhyming.

4.     We Planted A Tree by Diane Muldrow

In this simple poem illustrated by award winner Bob Staake, two young families in two very different parts of the world plant a tree. As the trees flourish, so do the families, while trees all over the world help clean the air, enrich the soil, and give fruit and shade.

5.     Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt and Vin Vogel

Filled with colourful artwork, this storybook addresses issues of poverty with honesty and sensitivity while instilling important lessons of friendship, empathy, trust, and helping others. The bright, friendly illustrations soften the topic while still conveying the characters’ difficult feelings, such as worry and embarrassment. A thoughtful and well-executed look at the challenge of childhood hunger.