Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Have I got a story for you…

E. B. Whyte and Minnie
White Literary LLC [CC-BY-SA-3.0],
via Wikimedia Commons
When I think of how we develop our empathetic beliefs and values about the environment in which we live the stories we are exposed to at a young age are what immediately come to mind. There are various ways in which a story is delivered, but there is nothing like the comfort of a book. Early childhood and middle school years are a significant formative time in our personal history and can be when many of the foundations are developed for one's future conservationist involvement.  

The role storytelling can play an important part in developing, reflecting and shaping the popular perceptions of wildlife concerns, and in young children and middle school aged children this can be delivered through creative non-fiction. If we quickly think of a favourite story most of us may have a childhood book that was read to us, or perhaps we can even recall one of the first books we read on our own. At a young age, the narrative is where children can absorb key concepts and have the freedom to explore their own beliefs by framing the knowledge they consume through their own lens.

The development of a conservation ethic was something that I experienced myself in reading The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. Whyte.  Many of the stories that I read as a child provided a path toward my own environmental education and my insatiable curiosity to learn about all realms of animal studies. The beauty in developing that hunger for reading is that it is an easily manoeuvrable journey upon which the reader can embark at their own pace and at their own level. Creative non-fiction is regenerative in that it can incorporate central educational goals through the enlivened delivery of an imaginative educational approach.

"Andrea Mantegna 038" by Andrea Mantegna -
The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei.
DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202.
Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH..
Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons 
With creative nonfiction, this particular genre of storytelling can introduce children to specific environmental concepts and also help them to become ecologically literate. In particular, stories like Watership Down by Richard Adams fostered in me an increased awareness and understanding for human and nonhuman animal conflict related to habitat loss. I very much attribute the stories that I was exposed to as a child as the catalysts to encouraging my engagement in conservation efforts and my bond with other species of this world. There are many ways to learn about associated organisms, ecological processes, and to develop one’s environmental ethic. But the power of the embodiment of ideas through a great story can never be matched… For a few ideas of books you may want to explore please check out this month’s Top 5 List at ICAS for some wonderful children’s titles. 


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