How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change: Turning Angst into Action

How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change: Turning Angst into Action

by Harriet Shugarman
How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change: Turning Angst into Action

How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change: Turning Angst into Action

by Harriet Shugarman


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Building grit and hope in the face of the climate emergency

With catastrophic global warming already baked into the climate system, today's children face a future entirely unlike that of their parents. Yet how can we maintain hope and make a difference in the face of overwhelming evidence of the climate crisis?

Help is at hand. Written by Harriet Shugarman – the Climate Mama and trusted advisor to parents – How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change provides tools and strategies for parents to explain the climate emergency to their children and galvanize positive action. Coverage includes:

  • The unvarnished realities of the climate emergency, where we are at, and how we got here
  • Strategies for talking to kids of different ages about the climate crisis, including advice from engaged parents on the ground
  • How to maintain our own hope and that of our children
  • A list of practical actions families can take to tackle the climate change crisis
  • Ideas for helping children follow their passions in pursuit of a livable, just, and sustainable world.

A lifeline for parents who are feeling overwhelmed with fear and grief, this book provides both hope and practical ways to engage children in pursuit of a better world that is still possible.


  • SILVER | 2020 Nautilus Book Awards: Parenting & Family
  • SILVER | 2020 Benjamin Franklin Awards - Parenting & Family
  • FINALIST | 2020 Foreword INDIES: Family & Relationships

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780865719361
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Publication date: 05/12/2020
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.48(d)

About the Author

Harriet Shugarman is Executive Director of ClimateMama, professor of Global Climate Change Policy and World Sustainability, and Chair of the Climate Reality Project, NYC Metro Chapter. She is a nationally recognized influencer, connector, and trusted messenger for parents on solutions to our climate crisis. A recipient of the prestigious Climate Reality Green Ring Award and praised by Al Gore as “an outstanding Climate Reality Leader who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to her role as a climate communicator and activist.” She lives in New York and shares her message of hope and action at

Table of Contents




Preface: This Book Is for You
What This Book Does
Timing Is Everything

1. Introduction: Awakening to Our Climate Emergency
Dropping the Climate Change Bomb
Why We Should Be Concerned
The Solutions Puzzle
Climate Awakening: Climate Reality
ClimateMama Beginnings
Memorable Blog Posts

2. Thanks for the Ride, Dinosaurs: Science, Politics, Growth, and Justice

3. Coming to Grips with Climate Change As a Parent: From Grief to Hope to Resolve to Action
Coming to Terms with Reality
Trusted Messengers

4. Leading by Example
Find Your Superpower
Name What You Are Working to Save and Why
Climate Curriculum
Parent Climate Activists

5. Transitioning from Angst to Action: Preschool through Middle School
The Climate Conversation: Preschool through Middle School
Engaging Your Child on Climate Action: Preschool through Middle School
Keeping Children Involved at All Ages

6. Pursuing Passions through the Lens of Climate Action: High School, College, and Beyond
How to Share the Reality of Our Climate Crisis with Our Grown Children
Supporting Climate Activism

7. Creating a Million Ripples: From Me to We
Thinking in Systems and Channeling Systemic Change
Scaling Solutions
Being the Change We Wish to See
Vote, Vote, Vote
Follow Up: Preparing for Our Climate Emergency
Plant Seeds: Literally and Figuratively
From Me to We

Youth-Led or Youth-Focused Organizations
Parent-Focused Organizations
Climate Action and Education Websites
Climate News Websites
Climate Justice
Notable Books
Climate Science

Climate Action Organizing and Book Club Guide Guide



About the Author

About New Society Publishers

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Climate activist Shugarman ... has written a pointedly apolitical title aimed at easing the climate change conversation between parents and children. She also offers ways to keep children from becoming depressed or overwhelmed (advice that works for adults as well), and suggestions for how to support the pursuit of individual passions while not losing sight of the big picture."
— Colleen Mondor, Booklist

Library Journal (05/01/2020)
"Global warming is a topic on many lips today, and the thought of a climate crisis may cause fear in many children. How do we discuss these crucial topics in a way that's informational but without reinforcing anxieties? What can we do to help our children live their best future in a catastrophic world? Shugarman (executive director, Climate Mama) believes it is crucial to tell our children the truth. Grief and fear are normal in both ourselves and our children, but we must motivate ourselves to action and here she provides suggestions to do just that, advocating leading by example and supporting activism. Many parents may feel they lack the knowledge to speak in a scientific and informed way, and this book provides the facts parents need to have these conversations as well as tips for conversing with children on this crucial topic. VERDICT A helpful tome on a crucial topic filled with scientific facts, this volume will be useful to both parents and teachers."
Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission

"In her illuminating new book How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Harriet Shugarman provides a comprehensive description of the climate crisis, how to communicate it to the children in your life, and how you can work together to be part of its solutions. It's work like this book that makes me so incredibly inspired by, and proud of, our global network of Climate Reality Leaders."
—Al Gore

"With all the love and wisdom of a true mother, Harriet takes you by the hand and fearlessly leads you to face the stark truth about climate change. Once there she doesn't let go, but rather uses that love to encourage us to step forward and become part of the solution. Harriet's vast experience, knowledge, and care for our planet and our humanity, vibrates through every page, giving us all the tools we need to arm ourselves and our children who are literally facing the fight for their future."
—Linus Roache, Golden Globe-nominated actor, and climate activist

"This book is essential reading. As the global climate emergency imperils our present and future lives, climate education is vitally important. Read this insightful guide to why and how we can "talk climate" with kids!"
—Raffi Cavoukian, C.M., O.B.C., singer, author, Raffi Foundation for Child Honouring

"Raising kids in a world made uncertain by climate change is a challenging task. Read Harriet Shugarman's book, How to Talk to Your Kids about Climate Change, to learn how we can speak to our children about climate change in a way that conveys urgency but maintains agency in the battle to preserve a hospitable future for us and them."
—Michael E. Mann, distinguished Professor, Penn State University, co-author, The Madhouse Effect

"How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change is a precious and necessary book delivered at the perfect moment. Harriet Shugarman skillfully guides us through this most perilous time by helping us to look squarely at the climate crisis while simultaneously showing us how to navigate through the fire. Her words are all at once fierce and soothing, responding to many questions parents around the world seek to answer as their children look them in the eye."
—Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director, Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International

"This book will sustain you in your commitment to protect, empower, and support your children to act at this defining moment of our planetary history. Indeed, taking action, together as a family, is the antidote to fear and demoralization."
—Lynne Cherry, founder, Young Voices for the Planet, producer, Young Voices for the Planet films, author and Illustrator, The Great Kapok Tree, A River Ran Wild, co-author, How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate

"As a mother, How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change lifts up my spirit, at the same time as it reminds me that our children are demanding the truth about our climate emergency, and that they are looking to us to help them understand the realities we are facing and the role they can play. Harriet Shugarman has written a must- read guide for parents at all stages of climate knowledge. I trust her to help me find new ways to talk to my children, to tell them the truth, and to empower them to move forward in positive ways. You should too! After reading this book, when your kids ask you about the climate crisis and what they can do about it, you will know what to say."
—Maya van Rossum, Leader, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Founder, the national Green Amendment For The Generations movement, author, The Green Amendment

"Harriet is an iconic leader and founding member of the climate and parenting nexus. Her book expertly navigates the complexities of climate science, solutions, and the emotions that come with facing our global climate crisis. Parents and non-parents alike will greatly benefit from Harriet's personal journey exploring the hopes, fears, and realities of the state of our planet."
—Tara DePorte, founder, The Human Impacts Institute

"Shugarman reminds us that we can't know how it will all turn out. Yet, we can find ways of not being alone and ways to navigate this climate emergency. There are steps parents can take to cope, and more importantly, cultivate perseverance in their children."
—Lindsay Coulter, David Suzuki's Queen of Green

"From the brutal realities of the mounting threat of climate disruption comes this extraordinary work— brilliantly conceived and full of the inspiring messages we all need to hear in these fateful times. How to Talk to your Kids about Climate Change acknowledges our vulnerabilit— but expertly redirects us to the connections we must make with Mother Earth to restore her life-giving bounty. Sustaining the resolve to do this requires steely commitment to the job ahead— and to infusing the effort with purpose, love, and authenticity. Harriet has brought us a clear-eyed plan to navigate the journey. Keep this guide at your side— in her hands even the most treacherous shoals can become opportunities."
—Lise Van Susteren, M.D. Board Certified: General and Forensic Psychiatry

"With five grandsons, I appreciate Harriet Shugarman's honest and sensitive advice to parents and grandparents. Harriet has led the way outreaching to parents. We must unite to end carbon pollution while helping our children prepare for the changes already baked into the climate system. Harriet shows the way."
—Larry J. Schweiger, author, Climate Crisis and Corrupt Politics and Last Chance, former President National Wildlife Federation

"As we live our climate emergency, the impacts of the crisis are not being felt equally. Being a parent is a delicate dance – preparing and at the same time protecting our children. I speak honestly with my son about climate change and show him through my actions how we all have a role to play. In How to Talk to Your Kids about Climate Change, Harriet shares messages of hope, the importance of telling the truth, of taking action, of climate justice, and of facing our fears head on. Read this book."
—Ambassador Thilmeeza Hussain, Permanent Representative of the Maldives to the United Nations

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