Talking to Kids About Climate Change with Oisín McGann

Following the publication of his wonderful new book A Short, Hopeful Guide to Climate Change, our Children’s books expert Mary Esther Judy speaks to Oisín McGann about the best way to talk to your little ones about the needs of our planet.

Talking to kids about Climate Change with Oisín McGann

Children and young people often struggle with anxiety about the Earths’ future, worrying about what kind of a planet they are inheriting and how they can exchange it for a better, brighter future. They need the facts, scientific information…and they need hope.

To answer this call, Irish childrens’ author, Oisin McGann has worked with Little Island and Friends of the Earth to take young readers on a journey through time, discovering how we got entangled in this climate mess we’re in, and how we can get out of it with A Short Hopeful Guide to Climate Change. In what promises to be Irelands’ most eco-friendly, sustainably produced childrens’ book ever, it aims to encourage, interest and inspire with a positive message of hope and the change that is possible. Here’s a bit of what Oisin had to say:

“I’ve been interested in the subject for a long time. I’ve done a lot of development education…teaching creative writing, and for the last few years, I’ve chosen to focus on the theme of climate change. In these workshops, I’d…show that even the most intimate details of our life are affected by our environment – that way, I could make the subject feel much more close-in and personal. Writing a children’s book on the subject had been something I’d thinking about for a while, but I hadn’t done anything about it. Then, just over a year ago, Little Island asked me if I was interested in writing one in association with Friends of the Earth, so I grabbed the opportunity….

I structured the book as a story as much as possible. It’s such an enormous subject, it’s very hard to say anything meaningful about the science in just a few lines, except to say that the what the science is telling us is beyond doubt…What I wanted to achieve with the book is to show that…climate change is woven into the story of our civilisation, we have burned our way to the top. But our society has a momentum, this thing is not just happening now; it’s been a long process, and our development has been happening along with it. We are still moving, and we are steadily moving away from our fossil-fuelled past. The only question is how much our world will change, whether we can slow it down enough to avoid the worst of it, and how much adapting we’ll have to do.

My aim is simply to inspire an interest in the subject. This book is intended as an easy way in to the subject for young people who are curious to learn more, but aren’t sure where to start, and for adults too, looking for an accessible read. And if offers hope because it’s not just about the problems we face, it’s about how far we’ve come as a species, it’s an appreciation of this amazing world we live in, how we are all connected to nature in more ways than we often realise, and how nature will be our greatest ally in overcoming this challenge. And I think, in creating a better world, we will make ourselves better human beings.”

A Short Hopeful Guide to Climate Change by Oisin McGann will be published by Little Island on 20 May 2021. Printed (by Ashley House) using vegan inks and the latest, cutting edge sustainable printing techniques and materials, 10% of sales will go to Friends of the Earth. This is a book to answer your questions, explain the problem, but is part of the solution.

Thank you, Oisin.

Now, if you’re looking for more books to bring climate activism into your home, how about these…

Kids Fight Plastic: How To Be A #2minutesuperhero by Martin Dorey, illustrated by Tim Wesson (Walker Books, 2019)

There’s so much you can do and Kids Fight Plastic makes it so easy. It’s easy to read, with interesting facts, some of which you may not have even considered. (How much plastic do you think goes down your loo?)

Every page has lively, quirky illustrations that bring home the issues, facts, figures, history and…most important a 2 minute mission that will help you become a #2minutesuperhero.

Start with one mission, act on it, make it a habit. One thing will lead to another thing and before you know it, you’re well on your way to changing the world.

(The companion book; Kids Fight Climate Change is coming in July 2021)

Pick up your copy from the LitVox Kids Bookshop here

Kids Fight Plastic
Talking to Kids About Climate Change with Oisín McGann - What a Waste

What A Waste: Rubbish Recycling and Protecting Our Planet by Jess French (DK Childrens, 2019)

Almost everything we do creates waste, from litter and leftovers to factory gases and old gadgets. It is not all bad news though. While this is a book that explains where we are going wrong, it also shows what we are getting right! Discover plans to save our seas. How countries are implementing green projects worldwide, and how to turn waste into something useful.

The tiniest everyday changes can make all the difference to ensure our beautiful planet stays lush and teeming with life. It is a lively educational book with fabulous illustrations and fun facts about the world broken into easy to digest bite-sized bits, making it a great children’s book for a range of age groups. You can get involved to make our planet a better place to live.

Perfect for little people (aged around 6-9) who want to make a difference, you can get your copy of this brilliant title from the LitVox Bookshop

Little People, Big Dreams: Greta Thunberg by Maria Isabella Sanchez Vegara, illustrated by Anke Weckmann (Frances Lincoln Childrens Books, 2020)

We can’t talk about climate change without mentioning Greta Thunberg. This book, part of the Little People, Big Dreams series gives us a glimpse into her life and how she became the young climate activist who has inspired millions of children across the planet to fight for their future. When young Greta learned of the climate crisis, she stopped talking. She couldn’t understand why people in power were not doing anything to save our Earth.

One day she started protesting outside the Swedish Parliament, creating the ‘School Strike for Climate’. Soon, lots more young people joined her in a global movement that shook adults and politicians alike. She had found her voice and uses it to inspire humans to action with her powerful message: “No one is too small to make a difference.” This inspiring book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the climate activist’s life.

Talking to Kids About Climate Change with Oisín McGann - Little People, Big Dreams: Greta Thunberg
Talking to Kids About Climate Change with Oisín McGann - A World of Plants

A World of Plants by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by James Brown (Walker Studio, 2019)

If you’d like a beautiful, coffee-table style book that will enchant and interest the entire family, look no further. After welcoming the reader to the world of plants, this book treats us to page after page of incredible scientific information.

Presenting both the weird and the wonderful, it examines closely the plant/animal/human inter-relationship in brief, but insightful terms that build an understanding and promote a long-standing fascination with the natural world.

It covers photosynthesis, the anatomy of flowers and seeds, the tallest trees, plants of different environments, their evolution, the role they play worldwide…and so much more. There is a running theme throughout the book that brings further thought to the current climate crisis and what we must pay attention to in order to create a better, more sustainable world.

Pick up your copy of this gorgeous book from LitVox today.

With a bit more awareness and even the smallest change in our habits, we can all make a difference. And today is the day to get started. Remember: it’s your world and everyone can do something.