Evaluating Childrens Literature-Fostering Respect for Nature
Some general guidelines:
• Look for books that portray nature and animals with authenticity.
• Avoid cartoonish images, animals in clothing, or caricatures of the natural world.
• Discuss with children the difference between “wild” animals and “domestic” animals.
• Consider the roles of animals in the story.
• When possible, choose books that portray nature, animals and the ecosystems children will encounter in their everyday lives.
• Choose books that present nature as a positive place to be.
• Avoid books about far away places or animals rarely seen or encountered.
• Avoid books which demonize certain animals or groups of animals (predatory animals, for example)
• Avoid books with factually inaccurate information (“a penguin’s fur is soft and smooth”—penguins don’t have fur!)
• Choose books which show nature, animals, and plants as important to society.
• Remember poetry, song, and oral storytelling!
• Does the story foster any stereotyping about nature or animals?
• Does the book demonstrate respect for nature?
• Does the story present environmental topics or themes that are appropriate to the age of the audience?
• What feelings is this story intended to provoke?
• How does this story present humans’ relationship with nature?
• In this story, is the future hopeful or bleak?
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