Children can save the planet, says Christchurch author
A Christchurch author is using her latest book to encourage children to think about their footprint on the environment.
Deanna Anderson's children's book, Kikir of the Walking Trees, tells a story through the eyes of the trees and animals which are displaced from their natural habitat due to environmental crises.
Kikir, the hero of the story, is a young sapling whose ecosystem is taken over by tractors, "huge yellow monsters", forcing all the trees and animals to move away.
The open-ended book is the first in a series, encouraging children to think about the next chapter for the displaced characters and their polluted environment.
"It's about installing empathy in the children . . . to start a conversation around people who lose their homes out of no fault of their own," Anderson said.
"These kids themselves can actually be heroes when it comes to saving the earth."
Anderson visited Mt Pleasant Primary School's year 3 and 4 class this month to see what solutions the pupils had come up with.
"The kids answers are so beautiful," Anderson said.
"One of the common themes with the kids . . . is a mythical god who comes up and creates these disasters. That's what climate change is, really, and that's how people become displaced . . . the human is being displaced by the earth.
"When we think of displaced people, we think of war and terrorism, when in fact, 30 per cent are from climate disaster. It's quite astounding."
The United Nations Refugee Agency said on its website that about 21.5 million people had been forcibly displaced by weather-related sudden onset disasters such as floods, storms, wildfires or extreme temperatures every year since 2008.
Thousands more have fled their homes following slow-onset hazards such as droughts or coastal erosion linked to sea level rise, it said.
"It will be the biggest social issue of our time," Anderson said.
The book was published in February using more than $13,000 raised in a crowd-funding campaign last year.
Anderson is taking the book to schools across Australia, Asia and Europe to spread the message of tolerance and conservation.
Ecologist and Sumner resident Elizabeth Mordensky illustrated the book and said spreading the message about conservation was important.
"Between the words and the pictures, Kikir of the Walking Trees is truly a unique children's book that not only piques imagination, but also asks children to consider critical issues by coming up with their own ending to the story," she said.
Anderson said the book encouraged children from a young age to consider the social and environmental consequences of their decisions as they grow up.
"We don't make this a political thing for kids, we make it fun. They come up with the theme themselves."