The photo collage consists of a photo of a wood to the left, a drawing of a wood where a girl and a boy is on therir way into the wood and a big city with skyskrapers in the background.

Nature in Children’s Literature and Culture (NaChiLitCul)

The main objectives of Nature in Children’s Literature and Culture are to map out and analyse the representations of nature in children’s and young adult literature and culture and explore how the interaction of student teachers, children and young adults with literary texts and outdoor didactic practices shape their environmental awareness.

NaChiLitCul challenges the seemingly implied and positive connection between children and nature within the field of educational and ecocritical thinking and theory, and examines whether the various representations of nature found in children’s and YA literature and culture correspond with those found in educational practices.

The outcome is increased knowledge of how nature is represented and understood in children’s and YA literature and culture, and augmented understanding of how literature and educational practices may shape both student teachers’ and children’s ability to verbalize their conceptions and awareness of nature and of current environmental challenges.

NaChiLitCul was established at Bergen University College, now Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL), in 2013. It was founded in response to an identified lack of both national and international coverage of Nordic children’s ecocritical writings and children’s texts. NaChiLitCul is now a leading environment for research on children’s literature nationally. In addition to cooperation with other in-house research groups (Formation – nature, body, movement and Education for Sustainability), NaChiLitCul is a substantial research group on children’s literature, and currently comprises thirteen in-house researchers, a PhD student, and MA students in Children’s Literature. 


In addition, eight external researchers (from Norway, Denmark, Catalonia, Italy, and Australia) are affiliated with the project.

  • KINDknow (Western Norway University of Applied Sciences ) 
  • ENSCAN (Ecocritical Network for Scandinavian Studies) 


Ecocritical Dialogues in Education

A methodological cross-curricular tool to promote teaching qualifications for sustainable development

Ecocritical Dialogues in Education (ECO-DIALOGUES) addresses the need for a collective and interconnected engagement within the UN’s Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). ECO-DIALOGUES’ main research question is how can we promote teaching qualifications for sustainable development?

ECO-DIALOGUES aims to integrate the new cross-curricular theme of sustainable development into Norwegian teacher education. The main objectives are to develop and implement ecocritical dialogues as a new methodology in the Norwegian five-year teacher-training master programmes and to analyse how this methodology enables teacher educators and student teachers to plan, implement, and assess teaching practices concerning sustainable development as a cross-curricular theme. ECO-DIALOGUES argues that teacher educators and student teachers need cross-curricular methodological tools, a reflective and nuanced language, and competences in how to develop their teaching practice to handle the educational challenge that climate change represents. The collaborative implementation of ecocritical dialogues in Norwegian teacher education will provide awareness of climate change and biodiversity issues and invite reflection on ecological relations to open new perspectives on sustainability thinking with relevance for primary and lower secondary education.

In order to answer the overarching research question, the project consists of four complementary work packages that explore different places of practice in the ecopedagogical field. The main methods, being close reading, ecocritical literature circles and conversations, and ecocritical lesson studies, create an approach of methodological triangulation in the overall project. The data collected will consist of questionnaires, logbooks, focus-group interviews, and transcribed recordings of ecocritical dialogues, which will be analysed using thematic analysis.

ECO-DIALOGUES is designed to foster teaching skills in Norwegian teacher education to promote sustainability competence, in line with UN’s educational goals for sustainable development (ESD). The project creates ecocritical dialogues as an operational methodological tool. Main short-term impact will be the adoption of ecocritical dialogues in the course plans and curriculums in Norwegian teacher education (MGLU), as well as improved terminology coherence relative to ESD between educational institutions and school owners and improved cross-sectoral cooperation on ESD. Additional impact is on international research through the dissemination of findings and results. Long-term impact will be new teaching practices contributing to the implementation of a national policy on ESD, an international reference work on eco-pedagogy and transformed ESD standards in teacher education nationally, with global relevance.

The main methods, being close reading, ecocritical literature circles and conversations, and ecocritical lesson studies, create an approach of methodological triangulation in the overall project, with potential for the various approaches to draw on the Nat-Cul Matrix, as a common point of reference.

Relevant sources

  • Alexander, R. (2020). A dialogic teaching companion. Routledge.

  • Goga, N., Guanio-Uluru, L., Hallås, B. O., Høisæter, S. M., Nyrnes, A. & Rimmereide, H. E. (2023). Ecocritical dialogues in teacher education. Environmental Education Research, ahead-of-print(ahead-of-print), 1-13.

  • Goga, N. & Pujol-Valls, M. (2020). Ecocritical engagement with picturebook through literature conversations about Beatrice Alemagne’s On a Magical Do-Nothing Day. Sustainability, 12(18).

  • Goga, N. (2019). Økokritiske litteratursamtaler – en arena for økt bevissthet om økologisk samspill?. Acta Didactica, 13(2), http://DOI:

  • Guanio-Uluru, L. (2019). Education for Sustainability: Developing Eco-Critical Literature Circles in the Student Teacher Classroom. Discourse and Communication for Sustainable Education, 10(1), 5-19.

  • Littleton, K. & Mercer, N. (2013). Interthinking. Putting Talk to Work. London and New York: Routledge.

  • Mercer, N. (2000). Words and Minds: How We Use Language to Think Together. Oxon and New York: Routledge.

  • Røskeland, M. (2018). Natur i litteraturen. Økokritisk litteraturundervising med døme frå diktsamlinga Eg er eg er eg er. I K. Kverndokken (Red.), 101 litteraturdidaktiske grep (s. 39-56). Bergen: Fagbokforlaget.

Plants in Scandinavian picturebooks for children from 1900 to 2020

Postdoktor Beatrice Marlen Unn Gustafsson Reed.

The project «Plants in Scandinavian picture books for children from 1900 to 2020» seeks to document and survey how plants are represented in Scandinavian picture books from 1900 until today. By examining to what extent, and in what manner Norwegian, Swedish and Danish picture books display plants, the project aims to generate new knowledge about the role and status of plants in Scandinavian children’s literature. The main objectives are to establish an historical overview of the frequency and function of plant motifs in Scandinavian picturebooks, and to make this survey accessible for researchers, students, and others through a searchable database.

Even though most of us are surrounded by plants in our daily lives and plants are fundamental to human existence, western culture seem to uffer from «plant blindness» (Wandersee and Schlusser 1999, 84). While representations of animals in literature and other cultural texts have been given considerable attention in recent years, not least within ecocritical approaches to children’s literature, plants are still to a large extent perceived as background, environment or metaphor for human action and behavior (Garrard 2012, 52). As Melanie Duckworth and Lykke Guanio-Uluru and notes, plants are also underrepresented in scientific studies on children’s and young adult literature (2021, 6). Thus, the project aims to make the presence of plants more visible, both in Scandinavian picture books as such and within the research on children’s literature in general.

Inspired by ecocritical research on children’s literature in general and more specifically the emerging field of critical plant studies, «Plants in Scandinavian picture books for children from 1900 to 2020» seeks to answer the following overarching question:

How are plants represented in Scandinavian picture books for children from 1900 to today, and what attitudes and norms related to the status, role and agency of children and plants can be found in the material?

Access to the Fytobibliografi: Database over planter i skandinaviske bildebøker.

Through the survey we seek to investigate several more specific research questions, such as:

  • In what types of environments do the plants emerge?
  • To what extent is a specific Nordic flora portrayed?
  • Are plants primarily represented as a backdrop of human action, or do they appear in the foreground of images and text?
  • How are the representations of plants distributed between text and image?
  • To what extent are plants portrayed as agents, and do such active capacities appear as specific to the plants, or as a reflection of human characteristics or needs?
  • Can anthropocentric and/or ecocentric tendencies be found?
  • Do the books contribute strategies for a more sustainable and equal relationship between plants and human beings, and what role are children given in such scenarios?

Reed. B.G. (2023). ”Du behøver bare se dig lidt omkring” Representasjon av planter i svenske og norske bildebøker fra tidlig 1900-tall. Barnboken, 46.

Reed, B.G. (2022). Building a Phytobibliographical Database. Plants in Scandinavian Picturebooks for Children. ISLE. Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment.

Duckworth, Melanie og Lykke Guanio-Uluru. 2021. Plants in children’s and young adult literature (Perspectives on the non-human in literature and culture). London: Routledge.

Guanio-Uluru, L. (2019). Climate Fiction in Nordic Landscapes. Nordic Journal of ChildLitAesthetics. 10(1),

Guanio-Uluru, L. (2020). Imagining Climate Change: The Representation of Plants in Three Nordic Climate Fictions for Young Adults. Children’s Literature in Education, 51, 411-429.

Guanio-Uluru, L. (2021). Analysing Plant Representation in Children’s Literature: The Phyto-Analysis Map. Children’s Literature in Education, 54, 149-167.

Wandersee, James H. og Schussler, Elisabeth E. 1999. «Preventing Plant Blindness» The American Biology Teacher 61, no. 2 (1999).

Other relevant sources:

  • Goga, N. (2020). Økokritiske perspektiv på representasjoner av skog i skandinavisk barnelitteratur. Svensklärarföreningens Årsskrift 2019, 113-129.

  • Goga, N. (2019). Økokritiske litteratursamtaler. En arena for økt bevissthet om økologisk samspill? Acta Didactica 13(2).

  • Goga, N. (2017). I begynnelsen var treet. Økokritisk lesning av omformingen fra et stykke tre til gutt i Carlo Collodis Le avventure di Pinocchio. Storia di un burattino (1883). Nordic Journal of ChildLit Aesthetics, Vol. 8.

  • Guanio-Uluru, L. (2019). Imagining Climate Change: The Representation of Plants in Three Nordic Climate Fictions for Young Adults. Children’s Literature in Education, Springer online.

  • Guanio-Uluru, L. (2018). Plant-Human Hybridity in the Story World of Kubbe. In Ecocritical Perspectives on Children’s Texts and Cultures: Nordic Dialogues. Goga, N., Nyrnes, A. Guanio-Uluru, L. & B. O. Hallås (Eds.). (2018). Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp. 125-140

  • Guanio-Uluru, L. (2015). Ethics and Form in Fantasy Literature: Tolkien, Rowling and Meyer. London, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, in particular pp. 60-64.

  • Skyggebjerg, A. K. (2018). Poetic constructions of nature : the forest in recent visual poetry for children. I N. Goga, L. Guanio-Uluru, B. O. Hallås & A. Nyrnes (Eds.), Ecocritical Perspectives on Children’s Texts and Cultures: Nordic Dialogues (s. 141-155). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Interspieces awareness

Norwegian teacher education is obliged to provide future teachers with analytical tools and appropriate practices that enable them to help children and young adults to reflect on issues linked to nature and culture. This includes examining the use and abuse of resources and discussing ecological responsibility, as well as observing and exemplifying how human activity has influenced natural areas so students can learn to practice and appreciate a sustainable relationship with nature.

Children’s and young adult (YA) literature and culture offer significant areas for research into representations of interspecies relations as well as areas that help develop a conception of or feeling for nature. Nature as presented to children and young adults in literary texts, images, films, games, apps, and in outdoor and educational activities likely influences the way young people understand and cope with actual environmental challenges and concerns in their immediate surroundings.

The main objectives of this NaChiLitCul project are to map out and analyse how interspecies relations and communication are represented in children’s and YA literature and culture and how we may foster interspecies awareness through ecocritical dialogues in literature studies and outdoor practices in Norwegian teacher education.

The project consists of four complementary work packages.WP1 aims at coordinating the theoretical framing of the project, and at creating a collective NaChiLitCul identity. WP2 aims at investigating how techne as the interface between humans and nature is constructed in children’s and YA literature and culture. WP3 aims at developing and exploring ecocritical literature circles as a method to further interspecies awareness in national teacher education programs. WP4 aims at developing and exploring the Lesson Study Model to further interspecies awareness in national teacher education programmes on outdoor practices.

Ecocritical Perspectives on Children’s Texts and Cultures

This project thus seeks to provide contemporary and up-to date views on eco-critical and environmental perspectives as they emerge in Nordic and international children’s texts and culture. The research project is divided into five thematic sections: Ethics and Aesthetics, Landscape, Vegetal, Animal, and Human.

The first section deals with issues of Ethics and Aesthetics as they pertain both to the reading of children’s literature and to our aesthetic experience of nature, as well as to how these different fields of experience influence and inform each other. The section ranges from philosophic analysis of the nature of aesthetic perception to the more practically-oriented approach of asking how children create inner images of nature through engagement with picturebook. The section is focused on the concept of interspecies ethics, which is concerned with a decentring of ethical anthropocentrism – a move pivotal to addressing the rights and welfare of other species when discussing human approaches to the environment and to environmental literatures.

In the second section, Landscape, the figures of the pastoral and the idyll are discussed along with dystopian landscapes and the more recent concept of the Anthropocene (a proposed geological epoch marked by significant human impact upon the Earth’s natural systems) as it unfolds in contemporary children’s texts. In ecocritical studies, the concept of the pastoral is often discussed within both the visual arts and literature that has been indispensable in Western thinking for more than two millennia. Books for children display a wide variety of landscapes, including landscape formations central in understanding the endangered environment, such as the wilderness, the woods, the polar area, the jungle, islands, rural areas and different kinds of cityscapes.

The focus of the third section is the Vegetal, with a particular emphasis on trees and forests and plants. The chapters in this section draw on critical plant studies and posthumanism to analyze the mediations of trees and Nordic forests in children’s picturebooks, poetry and story apps.

The fourth section, Animal, contains studies of bestiaries and of human-animal descriptions and interactions in texts for children, and discusses how posthumanism opens up ways for rethinking interspecies relationships. Drawing on posthumanist theory, it focuses on border crossings between humans and non-human animals in children’s prose and poetic texts.

Turning the anthropocentric bias on its head, the category of Human features the fifth section. This section examines mediations and practices where human growth and development are framed by the concepts of nature and wilderness. Thus, all the contributions in this section are tied to a discourse of human Bildung.

The various sections all discuss ways in which different environments are framed and mediated within children’s and YA literature and culture, highlighting the diversity of these descriptions while at the same time acknowledging the enduring influence of inherited topoi such as those of the pastoral, the idyll, and the wilderness.

Publications and Book reports

In-house publications

"Møt Agatha Crispie og Doris Pastinakk" (2023) by Lykke Guanio-Uluru

Økokritiske dialoger – Innganger til arbeid med bærekraft i lærerutdanningene (2023) edited byNina Goga, Lykke Guanio-Uluru, Kristine Kleveland og Hege Emma Rimmereide

 "«Kva ser fluga?» Naturmiljø, plantar og dyr i prislønte nynorske biletbøker for barn etter 2000" (2023) by Beatrice G. Reed

"Hvordan vægtlægges naturoplevelse og bærekraft gennem friluftsliv i videregående skole?" (2023) by Gustav Tøstesen

"Klimafiksjonens dialoger. Energi- og bærekraftdilemmaer i romanene Anna og Blå" (2023) by Rikke Frøyland

"Material Green Entanglements: Research on Student Teachers’ Aesthetic and Ecocritical Engagement with Picturebooks of Their Own Choice" (2022) by Marnie Campagnaro & Nina Goga

"Play, Learn, and Teach Outdoors—Network (PLaTO-Net): terminology, taxonomy, and ontology" (2022) by Lee, E.-Y., de Lannoy, L., Li, L., de Barros, M. I. A., Bentsen, P., Brussoni, M., Crompton, L., Fiskum, T. A., Guerrero, M., Hallås, B. O., Ho, S., Jordan, C., Leather, M., Mannion, G., Moore, S. A., Sandseter, E. B. H., Spencer, N. L. I., Waite, S., Wang, P.-Y., … Aubert, S.

Barnelitterære landskapskonstruksjoner. Økokritiske lesninger av tre danningsfortellinger (2022) PhD-dissertation by Ahmed Khateeb

Plants in Children’s and Young Adult Literature (2021) edited By Melanie Duckworth & Lykke Guanio-Uluru

"Analysing Plant Representation in Children’s Literature: The Phyto‑Analysis Map" (2021) by Lykke Guanio-Uluru


"Green Dialogues and Digital Collaboration on Nonfiction Children’s Literature" (2021) by Marnie Campagnaro & Nina Goga

"Hva er greia med å engasjere barn og unge? En undersøkelse av hvordan voksne bokmeldere og formidlere vurderer oppfordringer til handling i sakprosa for barn om miljø- og klimaspørsmål" (2021) by Nina Goga

"A is for … awareness. Fostering interspecies awareness through nonfiction ABC picturebooks" (2021) by Nina Goga

"The Fantasy of Wilderness: Reconfiguring Heroism in the Anthropocene, Facing the Age of Ecocentrism" (2021) by Lykke Guanio-Uluru

PÅ TVÆRS AF NORDEN: økokritiske strømninger i nordisk børne- og ungdomslitteratur (2021) edited by Nina Goga & Marianne Eskebæk 

"Ecocritical Engagement with Picturebook through Literature Conversations" (2020) by Nina Goga & Maria Pujol-Valls

"Children as eco-citizens?" (2019) by Heggen, M. P., Sageidet, B. M., Goga, N., Grindheim, L. T., Bergan, V., Krempig, I. W., Utsi, T. A., & Lynngård, A. M.

"Imagining Climate Change: The Representation of Plants in Three Nordic Climate Fictions for Young Adults" (2019) by Lykke Guanio-Uluru

"Climate Fiction in Nordic Landscapes" (2019) by Lykke Guanio-Uluru

"Et retroperspektiv på lærerstudenters friluftsliv og naturopphold i skole og fritid - et antroposentrisk fremfor et økosentrisk natursyn" (2019) by Ove Olsen Sæle, Bjørg Oddrun Hallås & Aadland Eli Kristin

Ecocritical Perspectives on Children's Texts and Cultures: Nordic Dialogues (2018) edited by Nina Goga, Lykke Guanio-Uluru, Bjørg Oddrun Hallås & Aslaug Nyrnes

"Natur i litteraturen" (2018) by Marianne Røskeland

"Grøn topologi. Ei nylesing av Vergils hjul" (2017) by Aslaug Nyrnes

"I begynnelsen var treet. Økokritisk lesning av omformingen fra et stykke tre til gutt i Carlo Collodis Le avventure di Pinocchio. Storia di un burattino (1883)" (2017) by Nina Goga

"Katniss Everdeen’s Posthuman Identity in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games Series: Free as a Mockingjay?" (2017) by Lykke Guanio-Uluru

"A feeling of nature in contemporary Norwegian picturebooks" (2017) by Nina Goga

"Miljøbevissthet og språkbevissthet: Om ungdomsskoleelevers møte med klimalitteratur" (2016) by Nina Goga


"Forhandling om natur – kultur. En økokritisk lesning av Jörg Müller og Jörg Steiners bildebok Kaninliv (1978)" (2016) by Tone Birkeland

MA theses linked to NaChiLitCul 2016-2022


Kaja Novaj Erichsen & Julie Sundstrøm: «Ingen verdensbeboere, det kan verden si ja til»: En økokritisk undersøkelse av mellomtrinnselevers lesning av bildeboken Verden sa ja.


Elise Aarak Kiland: Fremstillinger av natur og klimakrisen i bildebøkene Hvorfor er jeg her? og Verden sa ja.

Ragnar Emmerhoff Lothe: Ein kulturell plantestudie av to norske fantasyromanar for barn og ungdom.


Ingeborg Strandos: Å verte ein økoborgar. Ein studie av Ishavspirater og medvit om berekraftig utvikling.

Yvonne Kvellestad Skudalsnes: Lyrikk som tankerørsle omkring menneske og natur Økokritiske lesingar av diktsamlingane Eg er eg er eg er og Skogen den grøne av Ruth Lillegraven


Ole Henrik Lund: Snakkar du til meg?: Ein økokritisk studie av forhandlingar om ulike livsformers verdi i teikneserien Amuletten av Kazu Kibuishi.

Line Alvheim Åse: Når vi blir voksne er det for seint»: Klimaengasjement i to romaner for barn og unge

Kristine Aga Haugom: When Ludology and Narratology Meet: A Comparative Analysis of an Ecofictional Video Game and an Ecofictional Book.

Tora Eide Hodneland: Cities of Tomorrow – Urban Landscapes and Urban Sustainability in Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy

Stine Myklemyr: Miljøbevissthet i undervisningen på yrkesfaglig friluftsliv i den videregående skolen – En kvalitativ studie av læreres oppfatninger og elevenes erfaringer

Eirin Krogedal Høie: Dialog for miljø – I valgfaget Natur, miljø og friluftsliv på ungdomstrinnet


Marta Nagel-Alne: Naturuttrykk i fantastisk barnelitteratur – ein økokritisk analyse av tre norske barneromaner

Stine Bjerkhagen Standal: Posthuman Identities: Cyborg Characters in Young Adult Fiction


Rebekka Hennum: Kjæledyr i realistisk barnelitteratur


Espen Iversen: Klima, kriser og ulikhet. Om utsatte mennesker og områder i bildeboken Hvorfor er jeg her?

External publications

Book reports

CfP and conferences

CfP - Eco-Rebels with a Cause: Representations and Explorations of Politics and Activism in Children's and YA Literature

See announcement

Abstract deadline: May 15, 2024

Abstract notification: June 15, 2024

Full article deadline: November 1, 2024

Expected publication: March to May, 2025

If you have any inquiries about this Special Issue, you are welcome to contact the Guest Editors, Nina Goga ( and Lykke Guanio-Uluru ( 

Prof. Dr. Nina Goga
Prof. Dr. Lykke Guanio-Uluru
Guest Editors

bilde av Lykke Harmony Alara Guanio-Uluru

Lykke Harmony Alara Guanio-Uluru

Head of Research Group

This research group is a part of the research program Sustainability, Participation and Diversity.