Early Childhood Education Journal

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 285–291 | Cite as

My Place in My World: Literature for Place-Based Environmental Education

  • Rachael Wells
  • Pauline Davey Zeece
Books for Children


This article explores how children can learn about environmental sciences through place-based education and children’s literature. Recent studies suggest that there is a lack of environmental science knowledge among citizens of all ages. Scholars and educators recommend introducing young children to the places in which they live to create an impact on how they will view and respect the natural world as adults. Selection and use of developmentally appropriate and scientifically accurate literature can be an effective tool to help children understand their place in and connections to the natural world. Guidelines for selecting place-based literature are presented using the Midwest United States as an example. Twelve children’s books are recommended and reviewed.


Children’s literature environmental science place-based education young children nature-deficit children 


  1. Allen, P. (2005). The elementary child’s place in the natural world. The North American Montessori Teachers’ Association Journal, 30(1), 106–113Google Scholar
  2. Barclay, K., Benellis, C., & Schoon, S. (1999). Making the connection: Science and literacy. Childhood Education, 75, 146–152Google Scholar
  3. Bettleheim, B. (1976). The uses of enchantment: The meaning and importance of fairy tales. New York: Alfred A. KnopfGoogle Scholar
  4. Butzow, C. M., & Butzow, J. W. (2006). The natural world through children’s literature: An integrated approach. Englewood, CO: Teacher Ideas PressGoogle Scholar
  5. Coyle, K. (2005). Environmental literacy in America. Washington, DC: The National Environmental Education and Training Foundation. Google Scholar
  6. Dewey, J. (1915). The school and society (Rev. Ed.). Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago PressGoogle Scholar
  7. Glandon, S. (2000). Caldecott connections to science. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, IncGoogle Scholar
  8. Gruenwald, D. A. (2003). The best of both worlds: A critical pedagogy of place. Educational Researcher, 32(4), 3–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Knapp, C. E. (1996). Just beyond the classroom: Community adventures for interdisciplinary learning. Charleston, WV: ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 388 485)Google Scholar
  10. Louv, R. (2005). Last child in the woods: saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin BooksGoogle Scholar
  11. Marriott, S. (2002). Red in tooth and claw: Images of nature in modern picture books. Children’s Literature in Education, 33(3), 175–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. McCall, A. L., & Ford, M. (1998). Why not do something? Literature as a catalyst for social action. Childhood Education, 74, 130–135Google Scholar
  13. Monhardt, L., & Monhardt, R. (2006). Creating a context for the learning of science process skills through picture books. Early Childhood Education Journal, 43(1), 67–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. National Bureau of Economic Research. (2004) Where do new US-trained science-engineering PhDs come from? (Working Paper No. 10554). Cambridge, MA: Freeman, R.B., Jin, E., & Shen, CGoogle Scholar
  15. Orr, D. (1994). Earth in mind. Washington, DC: Island PressGoogle Scholar
  16. Pfirman, S., & Advisory Committee for Environmental Research Education. (2003). Complex environmental systems: Synthesis for earth, life, and society in the 21st century. Retrieved February 25, 2007 from
  17. Pringle, R. M. (2005). Using picture storybooks to support young children’s science learning. Reading Horizons, 46, 1–15Google Scholar
  18. Robson, S. (2006). Developing thinking and understanding in young children. New York: RoutledgeGoogle Scholar
  19. Rule, A. (2007). A “tad” of science appreciation. Early Childhood Education Journal, 34(4), 297–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Singer, M. (2003). Nurturing Wonder. School Library Journal, 49, 42–43Google Scholar
  21. Smith G., & Williams D. (Eds) (1999). Ecological education in action: On weaving education, culture, and the environment. Albany, NY: State University of New York PressGoogle Scholar
  22. Sobel, D. (1996). Beyond ecophobia: Reclaiming the heart in nature education. Great Barrington, MA: The Orion Society and The Myrin InstituteGoogle Scholar
  23. Sobel, D. (2004). Place-based education: Connecting classrooms and communities. Great Barrington, MA: The Orion Society and The Myrin InstituteGoogle Scholar
  24. Strong, C. (1998). The impact of environmental education on children’s knowledge and awareness of environmental concerns. Marketing Intelligence & Planning, 16, 349–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Temple, C., Naylor, A., Martinez, M., & Yokota, J. (1998). Children’s books in children’s hands: An introduction to their literature. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Google Scholar
  26. Theobald, P. (1997). Teaching the commons: Place, pride, and the renewal of community. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Google Scholar
  27. Theobald, P., & Curtiss, J. (2000). Communities as curricula. Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy, 15(1), 106–111Google Scholar
  28. Thomashow, M. (1995). Ecological identity: Becoming a reflective environmentalist. Cambridge, MA: MIT PressGoogle Scholar
  29. Traina F., & Darley-Hill S. (Eds.) (1995). Perspectives in bioregional education. Troy, OH: North American Association for Environmental EducationGoogle Scholar
  30. Wilson, R. (1996). Environmental education during the early years. ERIC Clearing House for Science: Mathematics, and Environmental Education Digest, ED 402147Google Scholar
  31. Woodhouse, J., & Knapp, J. (2000). Place-based curriculum and instruction: Outdoor and environmental education approaches. Charleston, WV: ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 448012)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Family and Consumer Sciences/College of Education and Human SciencesUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

Personalised recommendations