Buddhist children’s books are inspiring young environmentalists in Taiwan

Since the 1990s, Taiwan has worked on an ambitious environmental preservation plan, including instituting a highly effective recycling system that repurposes 20 percent more waste than the US. The country has embraced education, especially at the elementary school level, as a key component to mitigating climate change and inspiring climate action in younger generations. As it turns out, Buddhist children’s books are highly influential in teaching young environmentalists. 

Nearly a third of adults in Taiwan identify as Buddhist. Buddhist groups have been at the forefront of many environmental movements and their books draw on cultural characters to impart messages of sustainability. 

These picture books take two approaches. The first is the use of bodhisattvas, wise, and powerful supernatural beings. These beings are used in picture books to serve as an example for children. One book, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s Great Battle against the Trash Monster, depicts a bodhisattva who wants to transform our polluted world. He begins by cleaning up a pile of trash in his room and sorting it to be recycled. This inspires him to take on clean-up projects in local parks and beaches. Bodhisattvas have been historically invoked to help people in times of desperate need, so using them as a tool to inspire green action is certainly appropriate. 

Other books, like Record of the Wanderings of a Plastic Bag, use plants, animals, and objects to teach children about respecting the environment, a fundamental principle of Buddhism. This book follows the journey of a plastic bag from the grocery store through the streets of Taiwan until it is eventually recycled. This narrative demonstrates to children that every small action, like letting a piece of plastic fly away in the wind, has consequences and that these items do not simply disappear when they are disposed of. 

Studies have shown that early childhood education on environmental issues can have a profound impact on people, even as adults. Literature is a great way to convey these messages in an engaging way. One study found that anthropomorphism, attributing human traits to animals and things, increased children’s concern for the environment. Combining cultural themes with environmental science and real-world examples is a highly effective solution to inspire climate action for children and demonstrates how creative education techniques can have a profound effect on kids! 

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Buddhist children’s books are inspiring young environmentalists in Taiwan

Since the 1990s, Taiwan has worked on an ambitious environmental preservation plan, including instituting a highly effective recycling system that repurposes 20 percent more waste than the US. The country has embraced education, especially at the elementary school level, as a key component to mitigating climate change and inspiring climate action in younger generations. As it turns out, Buddhist children’s books are highly influential in teaching young environmentalists. 

Nearly a third of adults in Taiwan identify as Buddhist. Buddhist groups have been at the forefront of many environmental movements and their books draw on cultural characters to impart messages of sustainability. 

These picture books take two approaches. The first is the use of bodhisattvas, wise, and powerful supernatural beings. These beings are used in picture books to serve as an example for children. One book, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s Great Battle against the Trash Monster, depicts a bodhisattva who wants to transform our polluted world. He begins by cleaning up a pile of trash in his room and sorting it to be recycled. This inspires him to take on clean-up projects in local parks and beaches. Bodhisattvas have been historically invoked to help people in times of desperate need, so using them as a tool to inspire green action is certainly appropriate. 

Other books, like Record of the Wanderings of a Plastic Bag, use plants, animals, and objects to teach children about respecting the environment, a fundamental principle of Buddhism. This book follows the journey of a plastic bag from the grocery store through the streets of Taiwan until it is eventually recycled. This narrative demonstrates to children that every small action, like letting a piece of plastic fly away in the wind, has consequences and that these items do not simply disappear when they are disposed of. 

Studies have shown that early childhood education on environmental issues can have a profound impact on people, even as adults. Literature is a great way to convey these messages in an engaging way. One study found that anthropomorphism, attributing human traits to animals and things, increased children’s concern for the environment. Combining cultural themes with environmental science and real-world examples is a highly effective solution to inspire climate action for children and demonstrates how creative education techniques can have a profound effect on kids! 

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