Wednesday, August 20, 2008


My friend Laura Benson teaches kids (and adults) that books can serve as mirrors and windows in our lives. They are mirrors when they help us look inside and understand ourselves better. They are windows when help us to look outside of ourselves, and understand the world.

PLANTING THE TREES OF KENYA is a new mirror book for me. Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Greenbelt Movement, grew up in Kenya, where lush vegetation was plentiful. Over the years, however, more and more land was cleared, and when Wangari returned from college in America, she found the vegetation gone and the land dry. How could she, as one person,  bring back the trees and restore her country?

This is a powerful THREE CUPS OF TEA kind of picture book that speaks volumes about how one person can bring about change in the world. I'm looking at the kids at my new school-- many of them seem pretty rough and tough, and I suspect that they have seen plenty of ugliness in the short lives. I'm wondering, then, what kind of beauty and change this book might inspire them to bring about in their neighborhood/world. 

P.S. The art in this book, kind of a blend of folk and impressionism, is gorgeous!


Laura Lynn Benson said...

You sweetie! How I treasure your words about books, how I love your giving spirit to guide me to such soulful reading journeys. You always guide me to texts which expand my sense of God's abundance and deepen my compassion for brothers and sisters around the world.
Keep going, CW!!!

Mary Lee said...

Thanks for the reminder about the mirrors and windows metaphor. I'm starting to get a seed of an idea about using this as a beginning-of-the-year theme for reading workshop!

Kyle said...

As usual you teach me how to be a better human. I can't wait to share this with my two reading classes, and my school.