Monday, August 12, 2019

The Greta Thunberg Effect

Greta Thunberg (left), the 16-year-old climate change activist has primed young people to read more about saving the planet. 

At least that’s what children’s book publishers believe. They’re saying there’s a huge increase in the number of young people devouring books on environmental issues. 

They call it “the Greta Thunberg effect”: a boom in books aimed at empowering young people to save the planet. Some seek to convey the wonder of endangered animals while others give tips on how to tackle waste or tell tales of inspirational environmental activists. 

According to data from Nielsen Book Research shared with UK’s The Observer, the number of new children’s books looking at the climate crisis, global warming and the natural world has more than doubled over the past 12 months. And sales have doubled too. 

Earth Heroes, which features Thunberg on its cover, is one of them. A collection of stories by travel journalist Lily Dyu about 20 individual inventors and conservationists around the world, including David Attenborough, Yin Yuzhen, Stella McCartney and Thunberg – it was snapped up in June by children’s publishers Nosy Crow and it will hit bookshelves this October. 

“I absolutely would say there has been a Greta Thunberg effect”, says Rachel Kellehar, head of nonfiction. “She has galvanized the appetite of young people for change, and that has galvanized our appetite, as publishers, for stories that empower our readers to make those changes”. 

Bloomsbury will publish a similar collection, Fantastically Great Women who Saved the Planet by Kate Pankhurst, in February. It features women throughout history who have dedicated their lives to studying, conserving and protecting planet Earth. 

Isobel Doster, senior editor in children’s nonfiction, has also noticed a “Thunberg effect” – a “real thirst” for authors who write about environmental role models to whom children can look up and actions they can take to prevent climate change. 

Also, to inspire the next generation of conservationists, naturalists, biologists, zoologists and nature lovers, A Wild Child’s Guide to Endangered Animals will be published later this month. 

Author and illustrator Millie Marotta says she is hoping the book will tempt young readers to take a lifelong interest in wildlife conservation and show them there are things everyone can do to help, right now. 

“We’re losing so many species every year, every month, every day, even. The generation of children who will be reading this book are the ones who are going to be the most impacted, and who will have the biggest impact. They are going to be the people to fix what’s happened and hopefully turn things around”. 

And many other books too. Whether nonfiction and/or fiction.

How-to guides such as Martin Dorey’s Kids Fight Plastic or Neal Layton’s A Planet Full of Plastic. 

Or apocalyptic climate catastrophe novels such as Sita Brahmachari's Where the River Runs Gold or Matt Haig’s illustrated Evie and the Animals. 

Publishers target young readers inspired by Thunberg because the fact of the matter is, Thunberg inspires!

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