How to Talk to Your Kids about Climate Change: Turning Angst into Action by Harriet Shugarman is a detailed presentation of parenting through climate change.


Are you already familiar with Shugarman’s Climate Mama blog? This is her book which is an essential read for parents interested in climate change and parenting. There are few books on this topic and even if there were, this is an excellent resource. The book is published by the New Society Publishers in Canada with the least possible impact on the environment.

In the first part of the book, Shugarman covers awakening to the climate emergency from why a person should be concerned and what to do if you already are ready for action. Some people become aware before becoming parents, and some afterward. She tells her personal story. A pastime for her family is working on puzzles, and she compares this to piecing together solutions for climate change problems. She says there is no straight line to follow and find a complete solution, and it can be a messy process.

In the second part, information about the science and politics of the climate crisis are well covered. She argues convincingly we need to pay attention and work toward reducing greenhouse emissions. To me, this was a nice review and it provided many facts and information, so it would be good to re-read sometimes. Later in the book, she explains we all need an elevator pitch so we can quickly share our interest.

Coming to grips with climate change as a parent and the five stages of grief are outlined. She has stage beyond acceptance to help propel people towards action. She names parent direct-action campaigns available.

Shugarman says parents have to lead with example, and she explains how she does so so her children are aware of her work. As they became teens, they were less interested, but she carried on with very impressive activism activities. They could not help but notice! She was even arrested and explains exactly how to do that, and where to hide the fine money to get out of jail the same day.

The author says children under five do not need to be told about climate problems. Then, as children grow, she tells what to do for various ages of children. Honesty is the best policy. One child thought an activist parent liked climate change because she was attending events. The parent needed to further explain. One child asked a parent if it was the end of the world. This is good reading in case you get similar questions. So many of the ins and outs of being able to discuss this topic with pre-school children through college are discussed. Depending on the ages of your children, you may not have had to think about some of this yet. She emphasizes all the regular good parenting needs to continue, but climate change at home and school also needs to be addressed. She started an anti-idling campaign at her children’s school, for example.

An index is provided at the end of the book. Lists of organizations are given. A book club discussion guide is included, also. It is very thorough.

I highly recommend this book!


PS I bought this book, myself, and blogged about it — like I usually do.