Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers ©2010
Grade Level: K-3
Thayu nyumba--peace my people. This inspirational refrain weaves together the story of Wangari Muta Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel prize, but perhaps more importantly wise, compassionate neighbor who shares her wisdom with her country people in order to make their lives better. This biography offers a clear narrative that captivates young readers. The author communicates the incredible spirt of a woman who changed the lives of her fellow country people by offering hope in the form of seeds and starting the Greenbelt Movement in Kenya. A beautiful reminder of how we all must work together to live peacefully in concert with the natural world and with those around us.
Systems Thinking Connections
Habits: Identifies the circular nature of complex cause and effect relationships. Wangari's actions and ultimate success is a beautiful illustration of the power of reinforcing feedback. Her actions reinforced kindness, hope and ultimately the environmental health of her nation.
Tools: Though not explicitly stated there are many things that grow exponentially over time in this story: tress, wisdom, independence. This would be a great book to help young children transition from a very event based Behavior Over Time Graph (BOTG) to recognizing that the BOTG can be used describe patterns and trends. Consider showing the children a graph with just a trend line and asking them what things or ideas in the story could be represented by a such a graph.