Does it matter? Natural world disappearing from kids books
From wild animals to jungles and forests, a new study says
kids books about nature are becoming a threatened species.
Researchers from several universities reviewed nearly 300
award winning children’s titles written between 1938 to
2008. Study co-author, Prof. Chris Podeschi of
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, told 97.3 KIRO FM they found a troubling trend when comparing
books written in the past to the near present.
“Earlier, the books were really sort of more nature
centered, the settings chosen, the animals present were
just more prominent,” Podeschi said.
Books like “Where the Wild Things Are, “The Very Hungry
Caterpillar” and “Little Red Riding Hood” have given way
more and more to urban settings with fewer animals.
“We’re just worried that along with grownups, now kids are
increasingly isolated from the natural world in their
And he said while there are plenty of great books still
being written about the natural world, they worry people
will ultimately stop caring about nature and animals as
they turn increasingly to a technology centered world.
“We urbanize substantially, park visitation is down as a
society, we turn to electronic gadgets that are more and
more prominent in our lives,” he said.
Not exposing kids to nature through books sparked plenty of conversation and disagreement
among the Seattle’s Morning News crew. Co-host Linda
Thomas argues kids get a bum rap, and any reading is good
“I just thought as long kids were reading or parents were
reading to kids, you’re ahead of the game there.
I really think as long as kids are reading, it doesn’t
matter what they’re reading,” Thomas said.
Co-host Tom Tangney argues kids get plenty of exposure to
nature from other places. He says his nephew’s favorite
show is “Dinosaur Train,” a weekly exploration of natural
environments and animals.
“I think there’s a real push in all sorts of different
platforms. Nature is more popular than ever,” Tangney
“That’s not nature, that’s the nature channel…a screen
is not the real world,” replies co-host Bill Radke.