Overcoming “ecophobia”: fostering environmental empathy through narrative in children’s science literature

Diane M. McKnight from Frontiers in Ecology

Efforts to communicate with children about ecological themes often emphasize environmental threats. For some children, however, this approach can backfire, as they try to avoid continued exposure to problems they cannot solve.

Another innovative approach is to promote the development of environmental empathy and environmental literacy through the use of narrative. Children’s books that use narrative to convey key concepts about a given ecosystem could potentially reach a broad audience by making information about the books available on the internet.

Examples of this approach are a special New York City edition of a book in the Magic School Bus series (Scholastic Press) and the Schoolyard Book series produced by the Long Term Ecological Research Network program.

Front Ecol Environ 2010; 8(6): e10–e15, doi:10.1890/100041