"Olivia Dreizen Howell wasn’t seeking out a climate lesson when she and her
kids, aged seven and nine, tuned into Molly of Denali
, a popular children’s
show on PBS.
But there it was: Molly, a 10-year-old Alaska Native and vlogger from the
fictional village of Qyah, goes with her friends to visit an old clubhouse.
Upon arriving, they find it has begun to sink into the ground. The episode,
“Not So Permafrost,” follows Molly as she uncovers why her refuge is sinking in
the first place. It served as an unexpected opening for Dreizen Howell and her
family to discuss the climate crisis.
“It helped us to talk about different cultures, how climate change impacts cold
climates and how we can combat it,” said Dreizen Howell, who lives in
Huntington, New York.
Like many parents, Dreizen Howell worries for her children’s future on a hotter
planet. By the time her children are in their thirties, New York will have, on
average, 57 days above 90 degrees per year, compared to 18 on average today.
But outside of talking about science lessons at their Montessori school, she
hadn’t discussed the crisis with them.
“The show helped us discuss it,” Dreizen Howell says. “We watched the show at
night before bed, and it was a nice moment to talk about how the earth is
different now and what we can do to help keep our planet going strong.”
Increasingly, children’s programs are taking on the climate crisis. In April,
Apple TV released Jane
, a show about a young environmentalist who idolizes
Jane Goodall and tracks down endangered species. On Netflix’s Octonauts: Above
, the titular team travels the world protecting animals and habitats
from a changing climate. Other shows like Sesame Street
and PBS’s City
have also aired climate-related episodes.
Experts say shows like these can help families find the language to discuss a
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