Exploring Nature Worldviews in Environment-themed Children's Books Across Cultures

The current study aimed to examine whether the cultural context in which children's storybooks were written, along with the environmental themes they addressed, can predict the worldview towards nature conveyed by these storybooks. With this aim, 33 children's storybooks concerning environment were published in Turkiye for three- to six-year-old children and analyzed. In the analysis, the storybooks are deductively coded by two researchers in terms of the country they originally published, the environmental themes they carried on, and the worldview towards nature they conveyed. The data was analyzed employing binary logistic regression analysis. The study revealed that the worldview towards nature that the storybooks conveyed was related to the culture they had originally written. In that, the children's storybooks, initially written in individualistic cultures, conveyed a more anthropocentric worldview towards nature. In contrast, the storybooks from collectivistic cultures conveyed a more non-anthropocentric worldview towards nature. Moreover, it was revealed that the storybooks concerned biodiversity were the most common theme focused in children's storybooks; therefore, more likely to provide insight into worldviews towards nature than the other environmental themes concerned in children's storybooks. Thus, diversifying the environmental themes discussed and including more non-anthropocentric worldviews in children’s storybooks from countries with an individualist culture may contribute to children's recognition and understanding of nature and environmental problems, and respect for the integrity of nature as a part of it.Keywords:children’s storybooks, culture, environment, worldview towards natureIntroductionDue to rapid increase in urbanization, and industrialization processes, several problems emerged, such as loss of biodiversity, increase in pollution and climate crisis which prevents humans from interacting with nature. Considering the urban lifestyle children are born into and grow in, where their access to nature is limited, they lack awareness of environmental themes (Pointon, 2014). Therein, the importance of children's books, which can play a doorway role in helping them to form their views on nature and establish an indirect relationship with nature, cannot be denied, even though they were written in different cultural contexts (Echterling, 2016). However, studies show that children's points of view towards nature and their relationship with nature might differ due to different worldviews that cultures adopted (Donnell & Rinkoff, 2015). These cultures divided into individualistic and collectivistic, referring the extent of interdependence within a society's members (Hofstede, 1991). Thus, the culture in which children's books are written can be a determining factor in the differentiation of the worldview towards nature and in bringing nature-related issues to the fore.Regarding the role of children's storybooks in children's worldviews toward nature, the current study aimed to investigate whether the cultural context of (i.e., individualistic or collectivistic) and environmental themes specified in children's storybooks predicts worldviews towards nature (i.e., anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric). According to this aim, research question:"How well do cultural context and environmental themes specified in children's storybooks predict worldviews towards nature mentioned in these storybooks?"MethodologyStudy was designed as a cross-sectional predictive research (Johnson, 2001) analyzing children's storybooks' narrations and pictures to predict worldviews towards nature provided, written in different cultural contexts and had various environmental themes. Purposive sampling was used to reach out to the children's storybooks that directly concern environmental issues (n=33) and were published in Turkiye for the predetermined age group of three to six were selected. In the coding process, environmental themes were derived inductively from the storybooks. Furthermore, for the culture, the countries where children's books were initially published were coded as individualistic and collectivistic by Hofstede's (1991) country comparison. The worldview towards nature was determined by coding storybooks as either anthropocentric or non-anthropocentric based on whether they have a predominantly human-centered approach to nature (Quinn et al., 2016) or not. Two coders independently coded both narrative and pictorial contents of the storybooks to enhance the confirmability to ensure intercoder reliability (Miles et al., 2014). Binary-logistic regression was employed by dummy coding the categorical predictor variables (i.e., culture and environmental themes) (Hair et al., 2010) and the outcome variable (worldview towards nature) by initially satisfying the assumptions.FindingsThe study revealed that the worldviews of 16 storybooks (48.5%) were coded as anthropocentric, and 17 (51.5%) were coded as non-anthropocentric. The distribution of environmental themes was dominated by biodiversity theme (n=17), while other themes like loss of biodiversity (n=4), 3R (n=5), climate change (n=4), and pollution (n=3) were found to be lesser. Findings indicated that the likelihood ratio test of the full model versus the null model was statistically significant, χ2(5)=17.46, Nagelkerke R2=.55. Among five predictors (including dummy coded), two of them were found significant: cultural context and biodiversity theme. The log of the odds of worldview was highly related to culture. In other words, the more children’s storybooks written in individualistic cultures predict the more anthropocentric worldview towards the environment. Among the environmental themes in children’s storybooks, the biodiversity theme was more likely to give insight into worldviews than other environmental themes. The odds of the biodiversity theme giving insight into worldviews were 25.96 times higher than the odds for other themes. The model correctly classifies 12 storybooks, which is anthropocentric but misclassifies four storybooks by 75%. The model correctly classifies 15 storybooks, which is non-anthropocentric, but misclassifies two storybooks by 88.2%. The overall success rate of the model was found to be 81.8%.Discussion & Educational ImplicationsConsidering the findings, researchers can conclude that children’s storybooks, which were written in individualistic cultures, were found to be written from a more anthropocentric worldview. In contrast, collectivist cultures tend to use words that depict a more non-anthropocentric worldview, in line with Li and Ernst (2015). Therein, authors from countries with individualistic cultures can write more storybooks with non-anthropocentric worldviews. It may help children view nature regardless of its functionality for humans. As an educational implication, the results might provide insights to children’s parents and educators about which storybooks are more likely to emphasize worldviews toward nature. Moreover, authors and publishers for children’s storybooks can add variety in terms of environmental themes, allowing children to understand their world from diverse worldviews and be more aware of environmental problems and their solutions. Hopefully, engaging children with these kinds of storybooks might help them increase their attachment and desire to interact with nature more.ReferencesDonnell, A. & Rinkoff, R. (2015). The influence of culture on children’s relationships with nature.Children, Youth and Environments, 25(3), 62–89.https://doi.org/10.7721/chilyoutenvi.25.3.0062Echterling, C. (2016). How to save the world and other lessons from children’s environmental literature.Children’s Literature in Education, 47, 283–299.https://doi.org/10.1007/s10583-016-9290-6Hair, J. F., Black, W. C., Babin, B. J. & Anderson, R. E. (2010)Multivariate data analysis.(7thedition). Pearson.Hofstede, G. (1991).Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind: Intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival.McGraw-Hill Publishing Co.Johnson, B. (2001). Toward a new classification of nonexperimental quantitative research.Educational Researcher,30(2), 3-13.https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X030002003Li, J. & Ernst, J. (2015). Exploring value orientations toward the human–nature relationship: a comparison of urban youth in Minnesota, USA and Guangdong, China.Environmental Education Research,21(4), 556-585.https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2014.910499Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M., & Saldana, J. (2014)Qualitative data analysis. A method sourcebook.Sage Publications, Inc.Pointon, P. (2014). "The city snuffs out nature": Young people's conceptions of and relationship with nature.Environmental Education Research, 20(6), 776-794. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2013.833595Quinn, F., Castéra, J. & Clément, P. (2016). Teachers’ conceptions of the environment: anthropocentrism, non-anthropocentrism, anthropomorphism and the place of nature.Environmental Education Research, 22(6), 893-917.https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2015.1076767
28th JURE (Junior Researchers of EARLI)
Citation Formats
S. Üzüm and C. Başer, “Exploring Nature Worldviews in Environment-themed Children’s Books Across Cultures,” presented at the 28th JURE (Junior Researchers of EARLI), Sevilla, İspanya, 2024, Accessed: 00, 2024. [Online]. Available: https://hdl.handle.net/11511/109623.