Readers everywhere are aware of the damage that humanity has inflicted on the Earth. There are lots (and lots) of books telling children about this damage and what they can do to live in a way that’s kinder to the planet. Great! But maybe this is just what most of these books are doing. What WE should be doing, and how WE should be living. What about what others are doing. The Earthshot Prize, set up by Prince William et al, recognises those who are finding ways to ‘repair our planet’. This handbook for dreamers and thinkers features some of the previous winners and nominees who have found ways and done things to reverse some of the damage we have done.
There’s a lot going on in this book, but it never feels crowded. It starts with a timeline of the last 12,000 years of human activity giving lots of good context. There are also some inspirational voices sharing their love for the world: from those who have seen it from space and those who’ve seen the impact first hand. My favourite pages included the ones which bust some of the myths around environmental issues. These are important, giving readers skills to argue and come to reasoned conclusions. The page on spotting fake news is equally important. In an age of a reactionary culture and emotionally charged media, this level-headedness is vital. The only parts which I wasn’t keen on were the Problems and Solutions diagrams. For instance, it made it look like each problem is easy to rectify when actually the political, economic, and geographical issues surrounding them can be complex.
However, this book is all about positivity and inspiring people to change the world. You can’t do that by continually adding obstacles. Because this book shows us that we are not necessarily doomed and there is hope. There are solutions and reasons to be optimistic. The Earthshot Prize will be helpful in science, geography and literacy in UKS2 classrooms and will encourage readers well into secondary school to become the next pioneers of positive change.
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