Product name: Green Stuff for Kids: An A to Z Guide to what's up with the Planet
Reviewer: Kate Arneman
Author: Tanya Ha
Publisher: Melbourne University Press
Did you know that cows burp more greenhouse gases than they fart? That the first electric car was invented in 1847? Or that in Colombia, pirates steal water by drilling into water mains?
Environmental campaigner and G columnist Tanya Ha's latest kid-friendly book has the broad scope and detailed coverage of issues you'd expect from an encyclopaedia on all things environmental, plus a whole lot of fun.
Topics presented include biodiversity, climate change, waste, recycling, energy, environmentalism as a movement, animal welfare/rights and many more.
Green Stuff for Kids is targeted at tweens and young teenagers and does a good job of keeping things entertaining without dumbing down the content. Explanations are grounded in science and brought to life with timely, real-life examples.
The ethical implications of environmental choices are touched on several times in relation to lifestyles and consumption, animal welfare and approaches to environmentalism. Different views are presented for kids to make up their own mind.
The variety of ways in which information is presented is a real strength of the book. There are diagrams ("How acid rain is produced"), flow charts ("The life and afterlife of a mobile phone"), tables ("Renewable energy: pros and cons"), maps ("Around the world: water withdrawals"), timelines ("Transport through the ages"), boxed definitions of terms ("Eco-lingo"), quizzes ("Celebrity greenies: who did what?") and cute touches like a postcard from Polar B Bear to Koala B Bear ("The weather here has been nice and warm, which is, like, seriously annoying.").
"Eco-activities" provide opportunities for kids to get involved in hands-on or research projects, such as making wind chimes from old pieces of cutlery, auditing their household water use or attracting wildlife to their garden.
All of these features make this book a goldmine for teachers and this is clearly an intended audience, with a list of online educational resources for teachers (as well as websites for kids) provided in the back.
Ha credits her 13-year-old daughter Jasmin and her friends as being informal consultants for the book. The voices of kids from three schools whose environmental initiatives are profiled (two primary, one high school) appear throughout as sound bites on topics such as "An environmental issue that concerns me is..." and "What I do for the environment."
Reading these it's inspiring to think how eco-literacy, instilled early, could change the world for the better.
A portion of proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to Trees for Life to plant the equivalent number of trees that were required to produce the paper for this book. The seedlings are planted in native, biodiverse revegetation projects.
Printed on FSC Mixed Sources certified paper.