With a topic this complicated, parents need all the help they can get.
As parents, it is hard to know how to talk to kids about climate change. Not only is it a complex subject, but it feels deeply uncomfortable to introduce fear and uncertainty into a child's stable worldview. Still, it's a conversation that must happen eventually, and it can be handled in a way that empowers, rather than discourages, a child.
There are many resources that can help parents broach this topic, but one that I've learned about recently is a new children's book called "Is This My Home?" The beautifully illustrated, 43-page storybook is a joint effort between Danish green energy company Ørsted and creative partner Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam. Illustrated by South Korean artist Yeji Yun, it is available in four languages, either as a free e-book download or a narrated 6-minute video.
"Is This My Home?" is the story of a little girl who travels around the world in search of her true home, after realizing that there is a difference between 'house' and 'home.' Along the way, she encounters animals who show her the importance of caring for the planet. As the book progresses, the illustrations reveal a world that's suffering from higher temperatures, melting ice, water shortages, and plastic pollution, although these are subtly portrayed in the illustrations and not referred to directly.
While the book is designed to trigger a sense of responsibility for the planet, it is accompanied by a number of online resources designed to help parents deal with the inevitable questions. Guidelines on how to speak to kids about climate change are perhaps the most helpful. These include:
Kids aged 4-6: Be a good role model
– Talk about the environmentally-friendly things you do every day, like recycling, riding your bike, choosing public transport or having a more plant-based diet.
– By taking green action together now, you will have great answers as to how you fight climate change when you child is old enough to ask.
– Children rely on their parents. Don’t lie to them about the problems but always reassure your child that there are grown-ups handling the issues and keep your own concerns to yourself.
Kids aged 7-8: Instill hope and stay positive
– When asked a climate related question, make sure you understand which answer your child is searching for to avoid letting your own concerns affect your answer.
– If you want to start a conversation about climate change yourself, start by asking ‘What do you know about climate change?’
– Don’t lie to them about the problems.
There's a section with 'Easy Answers to Difficult Questions' (mainly about the science behind climate change), as well as 'Ways to Make a Difference.' I appreciated the references to politics and voting wisely, as well as the power of money and investing to effect change. Children are encouraged to speak to their schools about incorporating more environmental issues into the curriculum, to eat vegetables, walk more, and appreciate nature.
While I would've liked to see some harder-hitting facts explained in the narrated video, I suppose the conversation has to start somewhere, and this is as good a place as any. Check it out for yourself on Ørsted's website or in the video below.