The books we ingest as children shape the values we carry as adults. They help to start conversations about the cultural differences and the changing norms of places, time periods, and the status quo.
I’ve based my personal and working life on trying to keep fossil fuels in the ground and protect the places we love from the impacts of climate change. It is one of the many reasons why I encourage educators, parents, and children to read books that discuss nature and conservation.
I have been a voracious reader ever since I can remember – in fact, even since before I could really read. There is video footage of me ‘reading’ – having memorised – a book page by page when I was three.
Books let me go on adventures that I’d never be able to experience in my real life and I got to meet characters that taught me incredible values about what it is to be a strong woman (thanks Jo March and Anne Shirley) or to care about animals (Babe and Charlotte’s Web).
In fact, having grown up in the United States it was reading a book that took place Australia that ignited a fire in me to visit this beautiful country and eventually move here.
Children’s books in particular shape who we become as adults. They nurture the way we perceive our surroundings and explore – not only the outside world but how we use our imaginations.
Imaginations are powerful things. An imagination can teach us about empathy, sympathy, pain and let us explore the darker side of any situation. But it is also the way we see hope, solutions, and have the gumption to try new things and explore new opportunities.
Imagination also allows us to transcend what we currently know to be ‘real’ and envisage a better world and society. The world currently faces numerous environmental challenges, and we know that continuing along current lines will not work.
Books are more than just an escape. They foster the creative and imaginative energy that we need to confront the challenges we face today.
This is one of the main reasons I am so proud to manage the Environment Award for Children’s Literature – an award that promotes a love of nature in children.
To learn more about the Award visit eacl.org.au