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climate disasters; books for kids; cope

Educating Children on How to Cope With Climate Disasters Through Books

December 13, 2022 - Lina Suarez

Despite the alarming increase in natural hazards, there are currently few free books or appropriate learning materials to teach children how to be prepared for climate disasters. According to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) adopted at the UN World Conference in 2015, children have a vital role in strengthening community resilience. With the rapid changes in the global climate and considering there was a vital necessity to prepare kids for Disaster Risk Reduction, author Martha Keswick, illustrator Mariko Jesse, and global disaster risk reduction expert Dr. Timothy Sim created COPE Disaster Champions, a set of free educational and child-friendly resources that empower children and prepare them on how to act before, during, and after these weather-related hazards.  

COPE is a series of illustrated, not-for-profit storybooks aiming to increase children’s disaster resilience. Covering climate disasters and natural hazards ranging from floods to earthquakes, wildfires to cyclones, the books provide coping tools, preparedness, and relatable stories, where children can be identified in an imaginative and easy-to-understand story to highlight key disaster risk reduction messages:

climate disasters; books for kids; cope
Teaching kids about earthquakes. Photo credit: COPE Disaster Champions and HKJCDPRI

COPE uses a creative, narrative, collaborative, and educational approach to help children understand and prepare for climate disasters. Using top-down and bottom-up techniques, and drawing input from different sectors, both local and international entities, COPE is designed to increase children’s resilience, allowing them to fill vital roles in community emergencies. COPE believes that children are a vital part of civil society and can successfully participate in mapping hazards, raising awareness, and championing other children, teachers, parents, and communities on how to reduce disaster risks. The strategy includes a series of books, readings, and digital promotion to reach communities at risk. 

COPE collaborated with global organisations such as UNICEF, World Meteorological Organization, UNDRR, the Hong Kong Jockey Club, and others to create the content and vet the key Disaster Risk Reduction messages included in each book. 

Today, COPE is a global Disaster Risk Reduction brand that includes 11 titles, is distributed in 25 countries, and reaches 3 million children worldwide. The content is shared through online platforms such as UNICEF’s Learning Passport, UNDRR’s Prevention Web platform, and WeAdapt’s collaborative platform on climate change.

climate disasters; books for kids; copeTeaching kids about floods. Photo credit: DR Masayu Dzainudin 

For communities with limited or no internet access, COPE’s content is presented by different organisations around the world through printed versions of the books. For instance, World Vision in Nepal and The United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth in India teach children about landslides and floods in different provinces with the COPE’s Landslides and Floods books. The University of Oxford and its partners in Ecuador are sharing the Volcanoes book with school teachers. Sultan Idris University in Malaysia educates primary school children through interactive storytelling programmes using finger puppets in Malay. Antioquia Presente in Colombia is developing a pilot project that will teach children living on the Caribbean Island of San Andres how to act during a hurricane through a survival bag for youngsters, including contact cards, maps, flashlights, raincoats, and a copy of COPE’s Hurricanes book. COPE books have been translated into 13 languages, including Spanish, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese.

All the COPE books in the disaster series are available on the website free of charge to read or download here. ‘Make the Difference. Be ready!

This article was written by Lina Suarez, COPE’s Marketing and PR Manager.

May sure to check this out next: 10 Inspiring Environmental Books For Kids

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