Wangari’s Trees of Peace

Today I ask myself, “what small change can I accomplish that will make a difference in our world?”  I live in rural Guatemala where plastics are a common site on roads, in parks and on the shores of our lake.  Recently my daughters and I pledged to give up plastic straws–a small change, with a big impact.  And you?

Regional focus:  Kenya

Author:  Jeanette Winter

Illustrator: Jeanette Winter

Genre:  children’s literature, biography

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Wangari’s Trees of Peace is the  inspiring biography of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist, activist and educator from Kenya.  We learn of Wangari’s journey from childhood where she lived below the shade of trees near Mount Kenya to her adult years when she defended  trees and organized reforestation programs which eventually lead to an internationally recognized program known as the “Green Belt Movement.” Wangari motivated local women from her country to plant more than 30 million trees throughout Kenya.  In 2004, Wangari won the Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to the environment.

What I love:

  • A story with an inspiring main character who is an agent of change for her community.
  • Colorful illustrations that are playful and serious at the same time.
  • Wangari shares a true story of challenge, hardship and courage with vocabulary that is approachable for children.

Themes: environmental education, women leaders, bravery

Discussion:

  • How do we know that Wangari is brave?
  • Why are trees important?
  • What have you accomplished this week to help our planet?

Connections:

  • Imagine you are Wangari and, plant a tree (or a few).
  • Wangari is a woman who inspires many because she was brave, courageous, and stood up for what she believed in.  Make a picture and/or write about an inspiring woman in your life .  Why does she inspire you?
  • Learn more about Wangari’s life by watching this  short documentary.
  • Make a collage using the warm colors of Africa (red, orange, yellow) for a background with watercolor paint.  Tear small pieces of construction paper to collage a tree on top of the painted background.

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