Engaging Young People with Climate Change

Written by Damaris Young

My name is Damaris Young and I’m the author of The Switching Hour, a fantasy story aimed at 8-12-year-old readers. In my story, my main character must save her young brother from the Badeko, a dream eating creature that is awoken by a terrible drought. 

The Switching Hour is influenced by my interest in climate issues and I’m passionate about engaging young readers with climate change. The problem is, climate change is often a confusing and overwhelming topic so how do we talk about it?

One of the simplest ways to talk about climate change is to explain that we, as humans, are causing changes to the world because of the way that we currently live our lives. By burning fuel, farming cows on such a large scale and cutting down trees, humans are causing changes to the climate, which can result in extreme weather events that have devastating effects. In The Switching Hour, the terrible drought means that resources dwindle and competition for food becomes fierce. In the UK, as summers become hotter our wildlife also struggles to cope as food and water become harder to find. 

I believe that by fostering a love for the natural world, we can teach young people to care more deeply about it. We can explore wild spaces and discuss the carbon cycle and how trees and plants breathe in the carbon that we exhale. By looking at how bees and other flying insects pollinate flowers and crops, we can start challenging young people to think about where their food comes from, which in turn can start conversations about sustainable food choices. 

Stories are also so important as a way to connect readers to our natural world. Nurturing a love for wild places is one of the best ways to facilitate care for our wild world and wonderful books such as the award-winning The Lost Words by Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane foster a love for wild places and all species, big and small. Picture books like Somebody Swallowed Stanley by Sarah Roberts and Hannah Peck also teach us about plastic pollution and how to reduce it, proving that small differences matter.

It must also be remembered that climate change can often add to the anxieties that young people face these days, as they deal with a multitude of pressures, from social media, the world around them and the negative impact of the news. It is important that young people feel empowered about climate change and that small changes can make a difference. 

The Switching Hour published on 1st August by Scholastic.

The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the FCBG

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