Nature Writing for Children

Nature Writing for Children Certificate Course

Online certificate course for aspiring writers interested in the genre of nature writing for children/​environmentalists/​educationists

Introduction:

In 2004, India introduced mandatory environmental education in schools. In the decades since then, many more children have grown up learning about environmental issues. The increasing incidence of extreme weather events, pollution and the pandemic have also brought the effects of environmental deterioration closer to the lives of children from various backgrounds. In many ways, today’s kids, cutting across social groups, are far more environmentally aware than before. Yet the availability of engaging, age-appropriate environmental literature that contextualizes environmental developments for young readers and offers them rich and diverse perspectives on nature remains limited.

The Nature Writing for Children Certificate Course is an attempt to find and cultivate new ideas and voices to promote the growth of such literature. It caters to writers, educators, environmentalists and social workers who might have a wealth of stories and possibly a pre-existing audience but do not have the guidance to transform their writing into manuscripts that can be considered for publishing.

The three-day online certificate course will help writers with stories learn the essentials of nature writing for children and polish their writing through rigorous feedback. It will also offer them an opportunity to network with people who work within the intersection of childhood, literature on the environment and publishing. Among the highlights of this course would be an Open Pitch’ where renowned children’s publishers and commissioning editors will get a first peek at the participants’ work and provide unfiltered comments.

The course also builds on Azim Premji University’s series of talks on Nature Writing for Children’ by drawing upon the books covered in the talks to help participants with references on what has been published in recent times and the various writers working within this field.

The course is intended to be hands-on, focused on learning via doing. Participants will not only learn, but would also need to engage critically with environmental writing for children to understand the importance of such literature and what gives it value – in the eyes of publishers as well as readers. 

On successful completion of the course, participants will be able to

  • Critically engage with writing and books on the environment that cater to young readers
  • Learn what makes for engaging environmental writing for children
  • Fine-tune their rough drafts for possible publication

All participants need to submit a draft write-up – fiction/non-fiction/picture book in English that is based on nature. We don’t need any illustrations at this point. Translations from regional languages are also permitted. The draft write-up doesn’t have to be final or complete, but the writer’s idea should come through in it.

We also need a brief summary of the writer’s idea. 

The word limit for the draft write-up is 2000 words and for the summary, it is 500 words. Your submission can have fewer words but cannot exceed the word limit.

In this online certificate course, we are looking at four units of learning interspersed with author interactions.

Unit 1: Environmental Literature for Children: The Indian Scenario (Day 1)

This unit will introduce participants to what comprises environmental literature, the different themes, how these are not always restricted to nature conservation and non-fiction, the challenges and opportunities within environmental writing for children and how these books have fared.

Unit 2: Environmental Literature for Children: Reading the audience (Day 1

This unit will be led by an educator who works closely with children. It will dwell upon how they find these books for children, how they engage with them within and outside the classroom, and how children have responded to various books – both the good and the not-so-good.

Unit 3: Environmental Literature for Children: Open Mike (Day 2

In this session, participants and instructors would apply what was covered in the previous two units to share initial thoughts on all the submissions made for the course.

Unit 4: Environmental Literature for Children: Open Pitch (Day 3

For the final session, participants will be given an opportunity to fine-tune their submission for an Open Pitch to publishers and commissioning editors. Their work will be read out to some of the biggest names in children’s publishing in India for unfiltered comments on the publishing potential.

The Course has been designed by Shashwat DC, Meghaa Gupta & Harini Nagendra