Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wangari's Tress of Peace

Title: Wangari's Tress of Peace:  A True Story from Africa

Author:  Jeanette Winter
Illustrator:  Jeanette Winter
Publisher:  Harcourt, ©2008
ISBN:  978-0-15-206545-4
Grade Level: Primary

Book Review:  This book tells the story of Wangari Maathai who grew up in Kenya.  After attending college in the United State, she returned to Kenya to find that deforestation was having a profoundly negative effect on her country and her people.   She started by planting nine seedlings on a plot of ground near her home.  Those nine seedlings were the beginning of the Green Belt Movement of Kenya in 1977.  Through persistence, courage and even civil disobedience Wangari stood firm to make a contribution to her country, doing what was right even when her personal safety and comfort were at great risk.

Systems Thinking Connections:
Habits:  Considers short-term, long-term and  unintended consequences of actions.  Wangari was mindful of this habit and as her story unfolds readers can come to understand how all three of these consequences were at play.
Observes how elements within systems change over time, generating patterns and trends.  As this story is so well suited to use of the Behavior Over Time Graph (see note below), it would also be an excellent opportunity to brighten this habit for students.

Systems Thinking Tools:
Behavior Over Time:  The book is replete with opportunities to teach Behavior Over Time Graphs. Language in the text makes the concept of change very explicit.  There is literal change, the number of trees in Kenya.  There is perceptual change, Wangari's personal commitment to bringing about reform in her country. BOTG will lead to deeper understanding of the text and multiple uses of the graph will lead to deeper understanding of the tool.

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