Today we’re going to talk about equity and representation and their importance in kid’s literature. In our class, we had a discussion of different children’s books and how we could apply the Bali Principles of Climate Justice to lessons covered in the various books we read.
First, let’s take a break and watch this video of Christian Robinson reading his book titled You Matter:
My group got to talk about this adorable book and how we thought it would aid children in learning about climate justice. We also had to apply it to the Bali Principles of Climate Justice that I linked above.
We discussed how this book tackled the very important role of representation for minorities. In the social sphere in general, and within the context of climate justice specifically, there is not enough attention paid to the impacts that climate change has on different socioeconomic groups. Historically, as outlined in the Bali Principles, “the impacts of climate change are disproportionately felt by small island states, women, youth, coastal peoples, local communities, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, poor people and the elderly,” and these same communities are systematically excluded from discussions of climate change remediation and prevention. Yet they are paying the biggest price for climate change, and they are paying it now. They don’t have to wait for the carbon dioxide feedback loop to increase warming to dangerous levels because they are already experiencing the extreme effects of climate change.
These experiences can be discouraging. In fact, many corporations rely on the fact that the demographics they are most heavily exploiting do not have the will power or the fire power to change the status quo. And these emotions are generational and ingrained from an early age. Which is why books like You Matter are essential in the fight against climate change. Sure, changing a societal mindset through generations is time consuming, but it’s necessary. We can rally to combat climate change now, but if we don’t secure the future understanding that climate change remains a threat, any remediation we seek to achieve will be insignificant in the long wrong. No, behaviors need to change wholeheartedly, and that’s where kid’s lit comes in.
In You Matter, Robinson equalizes humans and nature, helping children to see how they are a part of nature and not separate from it. He describes how the history of the Earth, the lives of the dinosaurs, and the universe around us all matter. Maybe his goal wasn’t a focus on climate change, but presented in the right light, his book can definitely help children to learn that their voices are valued and their lives are worth more than what a corporation stands to profit from them.
Share this story with your kids, and teach them about the different nations of the world, and especially teach them about the different people living in those nations. Show them maps, pictures, art, and literature from people living in the same time period but living vastly different lives. And teach them about the physical world and how their actions impact it, so that we can solidify a future for them that will be worth living.
This post satisfies the requirements of assignment 4 of ESS210.