The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a nominee for the 2013-2014 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

This wonderful nonfiction book, written by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon, tells young William’s story of life in drought-ravaged Malawi. Instead of accepting things as they were, William visited the village library, learned more about renewable energy, and proceeded to build a windmill that would bring electricity to his village. Although many people called him crazy, William persevered, and not only did he bring electricity to his small village in Malawi, but he also found a way to use wind power to pump water so that people, including his own starving family, could grow crops year-round.

This inspiring story is an excellent addition to lessons and conversations on the importance of renewable energy and how something we often take for granted can truly mean the world to others.

Even though this book is nominated for the South Carolina Picture Book Award–which is promoted primarily to students in K5 through 2nd grade–I would say that it should be used more in upper elementary grades than any others. I think they would have a greater appreciation for the vibrant language in the book. 3rd-5th graders may also have much more background knowledge of renewable energy resources, like wind and solar power.

The book’s afterword will provide older readers with more information about William Kamkwamba, how he saved his village, and what he’s continuing to do to bring renewable energy to Africa.

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