Sea of Stories: The Science, History, and Cultural Importance of the Sea in Children’s Literature

Covering almost three quarters of our planet’s surface, the sea is the Earth’s largest ecosystem. Some scientists even call Earth “the Ocean Planet.” And while the planet’s oceans may seem to exist separately, in reality, the oceans are one interconnected body of water. It is this one great sea that makes life possible, and the same sea that each of us around the globe must share and nurture. The sea is not static, empty space: Just as it is constantly reshaped by marine life and geology, it is also transformed through politics and human initiatives. This international round table will explore how children's books today address the momentous presence and multifaceted impact of the sea on human life and society. We will discuss how books can make scientific and ecological investigation of the sea come alive for children; how books can help children explore the role of the sea in socio-political phenomena such as migrations; and how the timeless lore of the sea has shaped storytelling across cultures. Convening a distinguished group of publishers, scientists, authors, and international advocates, this session will highlight the many rigorous, brilliant, and aesthetically elevated children’s books across the globe that reveal the deep interconnectivity between human life, marine life, and the irreplaceable sea. This event is linked to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals Book Club and to the BolognaRagazzi Award 2024 Special Category, dedicated to the best international illustrated books about the Sea.