Writing stories for kids to teach about climate change: an internship with CORCLIMA

Authored by:
Karen Masters

Karen Masters

Written by Rachel Johnson (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities), Internship in Sustainability and the Environment.

This past month I have had the incredible opportunity to work with CORCLIMA, a civic group dedicated to helping Monteverde become more resilient to climate change. As I began this internship, I was immersed in all that CORCLIMA is and was inspired with the true interest and passion that is obvious in this group. I was given an amazing mentor, Evelyn Obando, and the task to create a story for local children that will ultimately be published, printed, and distributed throughout the local area.

In the past, I have had experience talking with adults about climate change, but I didn’t have the same confidence and skill to take on this complex task with children. I was drawn to this internship because I knew that it would challenge me to grow as a communicator and as a climate change activist. Being able to explain this complex and often overwhelming topic to children in a way that was easy to understand and upbeat was difficult.

To begin this assignment, I was introduced to members of the Monteverde community who are working to make Monteverde and the surrounding regions more sustainable. Through these visits to farms, universities, businesses, and homes, I was reminded of and yet again inspired by the sustainable culture that has been cultivated here. I also worked inside of a classroom, gathering information from children and getting some very valuable feedback on what the students are interested in and what they like in a good book.

Before I began writing, I knew that more research was in order. To get inspiration and guidance, I researched how previous authors approached other difficult topics such as species extinction.  I used this information to learn how to develop a plot that is not only interesting, but informative as well. It is important to combine these two qualities when it comes to writing an informative children’s story; there needs to be a clear lesson and the plot needs to be interesting enough that the child will want to read the story again.

This internship has not only given me an amazing chance to create a unique education tool, but it has cultivated my creativity and support for climate change education and awareness. I now feel more comfortable talking with children about climate change and what they can do to help. Children are the next generation of leaders, activists, and scientists so giving them the knowledge to inform them about how the Earth works and how it is changing while they’re young is crucial.

Creating a story about climate change has been a lot of hard work, but it has also been incredibly rewarding. Being able to look at my manuscript and imagine the children reading it feels like a huge accomplishment. I am so grateful to be able to have been a part of this project, and I know that I will continue to utilize the lessons I've learned about people, science, and creativity in my life.

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