“Sometimes when you're surrounded by dirt, CJ, you're a better witness for what's beautiful."
So CJ’s grandmother tells him, as they journey across town after church in Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson’s picture book, Last Stop on Market Street.
Little CJ is reluctant to take the bus (“Nana, how come we don’t got a car?”) and even less keen to go to the soup kitchen.
But with Nana’s wise words and the gentle guitar playing on the bus echoing in his thoughts, he begins to see the world in a different way and realize the riches he already has.
It’s fitting, then, that the story was chosen earlier this year as one of the first for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Book Club. The aim? To introduce children between the ages of six and 12 to the ways the UN wants to transform the world - and make sure no one is left behind - by 2030.
For 17 months, until September 2020, the SDG Book Club - in association with international book-related organizations - will be choosing books with messages related to each of the 17 goals, to provide “a playful and participative way to learn about them, through stories and characters children can relate to”.
Here are five more books that can teach children how we can all try to live more sustainably, connected with the first five SDGs.
What is the World Economic Forum's Book Club?
The World Economic Forum launched its official Book Club on Facebook in April 2018. Readers worldwide are invited to join and discuss a variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. It is a private Facebook group dedicated to discussing one book every month.
Each month, we announce a new book on our social media channels. We then publish an extract and begin a chapter-by-chapter discussion with group members. Selected comments and questions are sent to the author, who in return sends us a video response.
Unlike other book clubs, the group features the direct involvement of the authors, giving you - our global audience with members all around the globe - a chance to directly connect with some of the most influential thinkers and experts in the world.
We have featured authors such as Steven Pinker, Elif Shafak, Yuval Noah Harari, and Melinda Gates.
You can join the Book Club here.
Follow us on Twitter here.
Follow us on Instagram here.
1) The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde
One of a collection of stories written by the Irish playwright in 1888, The Happy Prince tells a tale of compassion, charity and an unlikely friendship between a statue and a swallow. The stone Prince, high up on his plinth, can see “all the ugliness and all the misery” of the city – and asks the swallow to pluck precious gemstones from his sword and his eyes to give to those in need.
2) Thank you, Omu! by Oge Mora
American illustrator and author Mora’s debut children’s book shows how easy it is to share what we have. When Omu makes her favourite stew, the smell wafts out of the window and entices everyone in her neighbourhood to visit. She shares her food, but in the evening is left with an empty pot. The whole community brings their own dish to share with Omu and they sit down to a feast.
3) A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles by Thich Nhat Hanh
The renowned Buddhist teacher has teamed up with illustrator Wietske Vriezen for this simple introduction to mindfulness, based on holding, drawing or focusing on everyday objects including pebbles, marbles and beans. It offers practical projects and tools designed to relieve stress, improve concentration and help families deal with difficult emotions.
Have you read?
4) Rain school by James Rumford
When the children arrive on their first day of school in Chad, Africa, they find no classroom and no desks. Just a teacher. "We will build our school," she says. "This is our first lesson." In this picture book, Rumford, who lived in Chad as a Peace Corps volunteer, uses vibrant illustrations to show how access to education can’t be taken for granted.
5) Bright Sparks: Amazing Discoveries, Inventions and Designs by Women by Owen O’Doherty
In a world where it will still take 108 years to close the Global Gender Gap, it’s important that children can learn about the impact women have had. That’s what Owen O’Doherty does with this illustrated compendium of female achievers, from diverse fields and throughout history – showing that giving men and women equal opportunities enriches all humanity.