Friday, December 21, 2007

Understanding Global Warming for Kids

Writing about science and economics - for kids!

By Holly Fretwell, author of The Sky's NOT Falling: Why It's OK to Chill About Global Warming, from Kids Ahead Books (World Ahead Media)

Kids are the greatest. To hear them laugh and see them play is heart-lifting. To listen to them and learn from them is a joy of life. And to teach them is invigorating but it can be a challenge. I have two kids of my own that I read to every night. It is a magical time where we adventure into strange and foreign lands. It is one of the ways that we share ideas with each other and a time, that as a parent, I impart life lessons in ways that may otherwise come off sounding preachy and static -- not to mention boring.

To share some of these lessons I have written a book of my own. Writing a book for kids, however, is not the easiest task, especially my chosen topic; a non-fiction book discussing science and economics for 8-12 year olds. When writing The Sky’s NOT Falling: Why It’s OK to Chill about Global Warming, I had to focus on making complex concepts simple to understand for kids at different comprehension levels.

Since a kids' book in particular needs to be lively and engaging I tried to weave in some basic science and economic concepts without stopping the more entertaining narrative. I knew I needed to keep it simple while at the same time giving a fair explanation of sometimes technical concepts. I also wanted to bring light to some of the misconceptions that many kids have about global warming. After lots of help from friends and family I found what worked best was keeping the sentences short and snappy, the words uncomplicated, and the information unambiguous. I knew what it was I wanted to communicate, but I had to let go of the flourishes. Kids can’t be expected to understand, much less interpret, the phrases and clich├ęs that adults use without a second thought.

I found that asking my kids and their friends to give me feedback as the chapters progressed was immensely helpful (and they let me know what they did and did not like)! Their feedback helped me refine my explanations and descriptions and gave me confidence that the manuscript I turned in was, to use that famous expression, "kid-tested and mother-approved."

Writing The Sky's Not Falling: Why It's OK to Chill About Global Warming was an incredible experience. It improved my writing skills by forcing me to be ever more precise, and gave me the opportunity to share the ups and occasional downs of the project with my sons helping them understand just what I do for a living as an instructor and researcher of natural resource policy and economics. In addition, if what I know can help kids relax about the natural changes in the world around them while teaching them to think critically and inspiring them to work towards the cleaner environment every community needs, then I consider the time I spent writing "Sky" to be time well spent. "

You can visit the publisher's website for info here.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

I use my kids as guinea pigs too. When I wrote a Christmas story about the importance of giving, I read it to my girls before asking my daughter's school to read it to the class. It was well received, so I know I hit the mark.

I also worked on a project the following year, where I had the children from my daughter's Kindergarten class draw self-potraits and then created a story around their pictures. This was a big hit.

Best of luck with your book, Holly!