Climate Literacy through Literature

TheCarbonDiaries2015

I took part in the first “Not So Serious Climate and Energy Book Club,” last Friday.  The book club evolved out of some informal virtual discussions between a number of us involved inclimate and energy education around the country and is sponsored through ICEE:  Inspiring Climate Change Education Excellence in Boulder, Colorado.  The number one goal of the group is to have fun and get together (virtually) with other readers.  Many of the books we have discussed reading are in the dystopian young adult genre- think Hunger Games, but we are also looking for stories with a more hopeful focus.  Suggestions are welcome in the comments area below!

Our first book for discussion was, The Carbon Diaries 2015.  As the title indicates, the story takes place 3 years from now in the UK.  The main character is an angsty, teen girl who is a member of a punk rock band, has an annoying older sister and parents with marital issues.  Sounds typical, except that a major “storm” as raised the alarm about the impacts of climate change and the UK has instituted carbon and later water rationing.  The book gives a lot of opportuntity for discussion and reflection about what the future might hold and also offers an interesting way for students to connect with some of these issues in a fictional format.

Individuals in on the discussion last week were in different science education positions around the country and gave some great perspective from a variety of viewpoints.  One teacher shared that students she had read this book with thought there “wasn’t enough science” and the book was “too doom and goom.”  A discussion of the question of whether any progress can be made without top down authority was also interesting.  The resilience of young people despite regulation and major environmental change and the wisdom of age and ability to put things into historical context were also themes.  For those interested in curriculum tie ins, the Will Steger Foundation’s Citizen Climate curriculum emphasizes civic engagement and helps teachers and students understand the critical and complex climate solutions being discussed on the national and international stage.  Additionally, an earlier blog on carbon calculators might be helpful.

The next book club meeting is June 29, 2012 12:30 PT/1:30 MT/2:30 CT/3:30 ET to discuss The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba  .  This is non-fiction accessible to high school  level readers, and possibly high-achieving middle schoolers.  There is also a young readers version.  To learn more about the book club join the ICEE forum.

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