Children’s and young adult literature about the environment provide creative and imaginative scenarios and solutions that may stimulate young people to consider their own relationship with the environment. Children’s environmental texts often “thematize contemporary ecological issues [and] reflect shifting global agendas and predict future possibilities” (Massey and Bradford 2011, p.109). They can also offer insights into ecocatastrophe, global warming, anthropocentrism, sustainability, and other important issues; or simply celebrate the environment. As such, this Exhibition aims to identify such literature across different forms and genres in Australia where discussions of environmental waste, climate change, species endangerment, ecocitizenship, and the effects of globalisation on the environment are major concerns.
This project is aptly named ‘Children’s Literature and the Environment’, rather than ‘Environmental Children’s Literature’ because it looks at children’s literature as it relates to the environment, not solely environment-focused texts. As children’s texts are tied up in metanarratives of maturation, it is common for environmental issues to be addressed in the texts from a very anthropocentric viewpoint. Picture books feature heavily in this Exhibition because the combination of text and illustrations provide greater opportunities to focus specifically on the environment.
The Exhibition provides a space for researchers and students to access and engage with bibliographical data on a range of literary and critical texts that provide various environmental perspectives of contemporary Australian children’s literature. This Exhibition does not aim to be a critical examination of the genre, but rather a space to begin research into this area and a site to draw inspiration for education professionals using such literature in classrooms.
Children’s Literature and the Environment Exhibition is a bibliographic dataset that focuses primarily on picture books, children’s fiction and young adult literature. There are some examples of films, drama and poetry included throughout the Exhibition, but these are also looked at more extensively in the section ‘Poetry, Film and Other Formats’ and Other Narrative Forms’. Below is a brief overview and examples of the kinds of narratives found in this exhibition.
The Exhibition is a collection of subsections that identify a variety of records (fiction, information books, film, poetry, and multimedia) relevant to children and young adults dealing with the environment in imaginative, scientific, educational, and creative ways. There are a number of components to this project clustered around key concepts and issues, such as sustainability, urban environments, Aboriginal stories, landscapes and global warming.
The Contents on the left groups together collections of works around particular environment-focused themes. Within each collection is a brief overview as well as sets of 'tiles' that provide further reading on the topic in question. Each collection also contains ‘Case Studies’ on particular settings, animals, or environmental issue. Each collection also provides links to further related searches, or tips on using AustLit.
Every title is linked back to its complete bibliographic record, which will allow further research on the work's authors and illustrators, book reviews and critical research related to the title.
The Exhibition is not meant to be definitive but rather, it contains a number of relevant textual examples of particular topics related to environmental issues that are intended as starting points for students, teachers and researchers of Australian children's and young adult literature on the environment. Many of the texts are relevant to the Australia Curriculum cross-priority of Sustainability.
Lastly, there is a Bibliography that contains all primary sources included in this Exhibition, as well as referenced secondary materials. There is also a recommended reading section for literary studies on children’s literature and the environment.
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