Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Recommended Picture Book: Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa

Title: Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa

Author: Jeanette Winter

Publisher: Harcourt, Inc, September 21, 2008

Suitable for: (ages) 3 and up

Themes/Topics:  Nature, Environmentalism, Women History, Women Empowerment

Wangari lives under an umbrella of green trees in the shadow of Mount Kenya Africa.

Brief synopsis:
As a young girl growing up in Kenya, Wangari was surrounded by trees. But years later when she returns home, she is shocked to see whole forests being cut down, and she knows that soon all the trees will be destroyed. So Wangari decides to do something. She starts with nine seedlings in her backyard. As her trees grow, so do her plans……

Links to resources:

Discussion Questions can be found here

Interview of Wangari of why trees are important: 

This is a very simple Smart Board lesson on parts of a tree.  Go to the site, then scroll
down to K-2 Templates, Parts of a Tree.

Trees are Terrific....Travels with Pierre
This site is presented in animated format and designed to help young children (5–8 years of age) gain an appreciation of trees, observe trees in their everyday lives and develop an interest in learning more about trees. 

National Geographic Kids
Colorful site with facts and photos of Kenya

Teach Using Wangari's Trees of Peace
Look here for lesson ideas and links to use with this book.

Activities for all ages that explore issues related to environmental preservation and sustainability. 
Why I like this book: This is a true story about Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. She inspired great change in her native country by bringing back the native trees to Kenya. She is an excellent example of inspiration for children today. They will learn that with hard work, dedication and strong will, even one person can inspire change, they can make a difference. The illustrations are very simple but reflect well the text and story as they follow Wangari from her childhood living “under an umbrella of green trees,” and observing her environment as she helps her mother harvest their crop. When she gets older, she goes to study in America. When she returns, the green land she left was no more. No more trees, birds, or green remained due to deforestation. Wangari decides to replace the trees that were cut down. She faced great opposition from the government and was even jailed for her attempts to bring change. She enlisted the help of other village women to plant the seedlings she grew telling them, “We are planting the seeds of hope.” Through her Green Belt Movement, Wangari brought environmental change not just to Kenya but to thirty other countries in Africa. Her story and life is truly an inspiration and this book is great to help children understand her great efforts and success. It saddens me to learn she recently passed away. Her dedication and love for the environment and women’s empowerment will be remembered.

For a complete list of recommended picture books and resources that engage, educate, and entertain go to Perfect Picture Books at Susanna Leonard Hill's blog. 

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