Summary

  • Children’s books can be an important way of connecting people to nature and building knowledge of biodiversity.
  • Exotic biodiversity is represented more than native biodiversity in Chilian children’s books.

Take Home Message

Children’s books in Chile may contribute to decreased knowledge of local biodiversity, which may have consequences for the development of conservation values.

Paper's Stats

There’s a growing disconnect Bar graph showing results from paperbetween people and nature as people are less exposed to experiences in nature; particularly children. This has been called the ‘extinction of experience’.

Some researchers in Chile, South America, wanted to see whether the knowledge delivered through children’s books might be contributing to the loss of knowledge about local biodiversity and wild nature. To do this they looked at 1242 children’s books and grouped them by their inclusion of native or non-native animals, plants and landscapes.

They found that 89% of animals represented in the children’s books were non-native. Similarly, most plants were non-native.

I think this is an interesting study for showing a possible example of nature disconnect but I also think it is a bit superficial. For instance, it assumes that knowledge of non-native nature is somehow less valuable in forming an individual’s conservation attitudes than native nature. There is also no discussion in regards to the messaging within books and it’s effect on conservation attitudes, which may be more important than simply whether represented species are native or non-native.

Finally, the study creates a species binary by splitting them into native and non-native. They mention that the loss of local knowledge regarding wildlife and nature has implications for conservation efforts, however, they don’t justify this in the context of children’s books or the native/non-native binary. They point to a few other papers that show that less contact with nature leads to less willingness to conserve animals. But whether children’s books constitute ‘contact with nature’, or that contact with non-natives is less valuable than contact with natives is very unclear (at least to me).

Title: Biodiversity knowledge loss in children’s books and textbooks

Authors: Juan L Celis-Diez,  Javiera Díaz-Forestier,  Marcela Márquez-García,  Silvia Lazzarino,  Ricardo Rozzi,  and Juan J Armesto

Journal: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

Date Published: October 3, 2016

URLhttp://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/fee.1324/full

Paper Access

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Research Type

Peer-reviewed research