Drawn to Change the World

 “We can’t eat money or drink oil. One day I will be an ancestor and I want my descendants to know I used my voice so they can have a future.” (7)

Drawn to Change the World is a graphic novel collection that explores the journeys and biographies of sixteen youth climate activists: Autumn Peltier (Canada), Tokata (U.S.), Melati & Isabel Wijsen (Indonesia), Edgar Edmund Tarimo (Tanzania), Jamie Margolin (U.S.), Jerome Foster II (U.S.), Greta Thunberg (Sweden), Ridhima Pandey (India), Daphne Frias (U.S.), Iqbal Badruddin Jamal (Pakistan), Jean Hinchliffe (Australia), Arshak Makichyan (Russia), Howey Ou (China), Leah Namugerwa (Uganda), and Dara McAnulty (Ireland). Each story is illustrated by a different artist, with different art styles conveying the uniqueness of each story against the background of a single theme—and call to action—of fighting back for the Earth. Each story follows a youth activist’s personal trajectory within the same template: a 4-page story followed by a 2-page “What Are They Doing Now?” summary with social media contact information for the activist. Each story gives youth activists a platform and voice to spread their messages. Framing these biographies are 2 introductory and 8 reference chapters that describe significant facts about climate change and fossil fuels to help the reader understand the importance of these activists’ work. In “About This Book” author and illustrator Emma Reynolds introduces #KidLit4Climate, the first global illustrated climate campaign. In “Introduction,” scientist, environmentalist, and co-founder of AimHi Earth Matthew Shribman outlines the climate emergency and its drivers. The chapters at the end of the book focus on individual and community action required today. They include an overview of IPCC reports, an interview with two activists, a timeline of the climate crisis, further readings, glossary and artist biographies.

Drawn to Change the World is a perfect introduction to youth climate activism and climate literacy education. It showcases the many interrelated, intersectional facets of the climate emergency: 1) the slow violence of ecocide and water pollution (from leaking oil pipelines) experienced by First Nations and Indigenous peoples in Canada and the U.S.—in the Autumn Peltier and Tokata chapters (see Water Protectors and #NoDAPL); 2) the challenges of eliminating marine pollution, plastic pollution, and single-use plastics—as in the Wijsen, Edmund, and Frias chapters; 3) the need for climate activism to pressure governments and legislators to meaningful climate action—as in Margolin, Foster, Thunberg, Pandey, Makichyan and Ou chapters; and 4) the need for nature regeneration and other solutions (such as reforestation) to reverse biodiversity loss and protect communities from floods, wildfires and other extreme climate events as in Pandey, Jamal, Hinchliffe, Namugerwa and McAnulty chapters. Uniting all these adolescent activists is a fight for climate justice: equity, fairness for the planet and all its life. One way that teachers can use this book in the classroom is to move students to climate activism in their own neighborhoods. Excellent for more advanced elementary school readers, middle school-aged, and high school students, this book can be used to teach climate vocabulary in context with real-world kids across the globe who vary in race, culture, and location but all want to move together to change the planet for the better. Each chapter—theoretical as well as biographies—can be used as a stand-alone reading or discussion piece, where students are assigned one or two climate activists and, almost like a jigsaw, come together to teach each other about that activist’s work or message. Students could also do a version of their own “drawn to change the world” activity, imagining or illustrating how their actions, big or small, have helped improve their community’s environment. The collection is an excellent text to put words into action through art. It helps students appreciate the changes youth climate activists are making in their communities and across the globe. It communicates that no one is too small to become an activist.

©2024 ClimateLit (Angelina Gallego)

See Panel with artists from the book: https://youtu.be/WkdKoEejBDs?si=rFH0vRHGyrPxLlpj

Publisher: Harper Alley, 2023

Pages: 170

ISBN: 978 0063084216

Audience: Questers (8-13), Rebels (14-older)

Format: Comics & Graphic Novels, Nonfiction

Topics: #KidLit4Climate, #NoDAPL Movement, Activism, Biodiversity Loss, Climate Change, Climate Emergency, Climate Justice, Climate Literacy, Ecocide, Extreme Weather Events, Fossil Fuels, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Marine Pollution, Pipelines, Plastic Pollution, Reforestation, Regeneration, Single-Use Plastic, Slow Violence, Solutions, Water Pollution, Water Protectors, Youth Climate Activism