The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Boy Who Harnessed Wind9780803735118_p0_v1_s260x420The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. Authors

Elizabeth Zunon, Illustrator

Dial Books for Young Readers, Biography, 2012

Suitable for: Ages 6-9

Themes:  William Kamkwamba, Science, Windmills, Irrigation, Children Making a Difference

Opening/Synopsis“In an a small village in Malawi, where people had no money for lights, nightfall came quickly and hurried poor farmers to bed.  But for William, the darkness was best for dreaming.”   William Kamkwamba, is a 14-year-old boy who lives in a drought-stricken area of Malawi in Africa.  He’s a curious boy interested in trying to figure out how car engines run and radios transmit music.  He loves to study science and mechanics.  When a drought hits his village and many people starve and die, William wants to help.  He goes to a nearby library donated by Americans where he learns that windmills can produce electricity and pump water.   He envisions a  windmill outside his home pulling electricity from the breeze and bringing light to the dark valley.  He sets to work to build electric wind to bring light to his village and water to soak the ground and grow crops to feed the village.  The villagers think he’s crazy.

Why I like this book:  This is a powerful and true story about how a boy’s dreams, imagination and mechanical talents save his village.   I love this book because it encourages and empowers children to imagine and dream big.  They too can make a difference like William.   It also introduces children to the Malawi culture which is unlike their own.  The book is written by the now grown William Kamkwamba, who is a student a Dartmouth College.  The book has a lyrical feel to it and Elizabeth Zunon’s illustrations are simple, bold and stunning.

Resources:  There are back pages of information about William Kamkwamba.  Also Alliant Energy Kids  teaches kids about alternative energies and powering toys with wind power.  Visit Kids and Energy for more activities and resources about alternative power sources.

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Friday, December 14, is the anniversary of the date in 1954 that the UN General Assembly recommended there should be a Universal Children’s Day.  All of those participating in author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, are doing out part to raise awareness of the plight of children around the globe and to promote the welfare of children in the world by posting books which focus on multicultural/multiracial issues, human rights, and/or children who have helped to change the world in some way.

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About Patricia Tiltonhttp://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

42 thoughts on “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

  1. I’m with Catherine – brilliant choice! I’ve been wanting to read the grown-up version of this for ages – maybe I’d actually have time to read the PB version :) I think this story is just so inspiring!

  2. I love this true story in its picture book format, Pat. It is even more precious to me having lived in Malawi! Super choice and thank you for suggesting our focus today!

  3. Yes, I second the motion. Happy Universal Children’s Day! And thanks for picking our focus for choosing books with a multicultural/ multiracial or human rights theme. You are uncanny in finding books with a specific theme. This selection on William Kamkwamba is ideal in this theme since he made such a difference in his village. I agree that other kids reading this will be inspired to realize that they,too, can make a difference. :)

    • Thank you Niamh. I see so many gifted children and gifted young people doing extraordinary things in te world. Their lives already express greatness. It warms my heart since they are our future.

  4. Oh! This looks like a fabulous book! Another example of how a library can change lives. I love stories about Africa. So far away, physically and imaginatively. I will look for this one. Thanks!

  5. I love stories of those less fortunate than we who have the courage to live out their dreams. Good one! And I like the connection to the library/books, which made all the difference…

    • Yes, I liked that when they stopped school because of the drought, he walked to a library that was donated by Americans. He couldn’t read English, so he used a dictionary to figure out what he wanted to learn. Lots of determination!

  6. I had forgotten you had done a review of this book here. I just reviewed it. I didn’t look it up in Susanna’s blog because I thought it was a new book. Oh well. I loved reviewing it. :)

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