The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

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4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  343 ratings  ·  105 reviews
children's picture book

When fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba's Malawi village was hit by a drought, everyone's crops began to fail. Without enough money for food, let alone school, William spent his days in the library . . . and figured out how to bring electricity to his village. Persevering against the odds, William built a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published January 19th 2012 by Dial
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Barbara
When his family slowly begins to starve due to the severe drought in Malawi in Africa, fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba decides to do something about it. Although despair over the family's situation could have overwhelmed him once he was forced to stop attending school, William used an English dictionary to help him comb through science books at the library that might help him solve the villagers' need for water and for electricity. The mechanically-inclined young man was inspired by the pict...more
Sidik Fofana
SIX WORD REVIEW: Best kid tales are true ones.
Tasha
This picture book version of the nonfiction book manages to translate the story of William Kamkwamba with clarity and inspiration. When a drought hit his village in Malawi in 2001 and 2002, 14-year-old William and his family were in real danger of starving. William had always through about machines and even after he was forced to leave school due to the drought, he kept reading books about them. He thought about what could be done with a windmill in his village, bringing light and water. So he h...more
Kelly
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...more
Amy
This book is based on the true story of William Kamkwamba who was born in Malawi. During his childhood, the people of Malawi suffered through a terrible drought. William's family didn't have enough money to send William to school (which costs money in that country) nor to feed the entire family more than one meal a day. William mourned not being able to go to school and eventually found his way to the public library in his town where he checked out science books. In one of these books, William l...more
Holly
This is the picture book version of the story of William Kamkwamba, a 14-year-old boy living in Malawi. In his small village, he dreamed of building things and taking them apart. He wondered about how an engine made a truck go while he worked in the fields of maize. When his village began to starve due to a severe drought, he began to search the American library for answers. He had to translate the English science books into his language. Slowly, hope began to grow. Could he build a windmill to...more
Heather
William does a fantastic job of making this autobiography flow. It was easy to read. William grew up in Africa and almost starved to death during a famine. He had to drop out of school so the family would have enough to eat, but he still loved to learn and found a book on physics at the library captivating. He began devouring the book, as well as others about electricity. He found he had a knack for this applied science and decided he would build a windmill in order to have electricity in his ho...more
Pamela Kramer
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer is the touching, inspirational story of a drought-ridden land and a fourteen-year-old boy who worked to change things in his poverty-stricken village.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon, and in many illustrations she seems to use cutouts to create strikingly unusual images. Her drawings remind the reader of primitive paintings.

William lived in Malawi, and when a drought resulted in famine, his village was sev...more
Ashley Bell
The book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kankwamba, is a cute story about a little boy. William Kamkwamba was born and raised in Wimbe, Malawi, and was just 14 when he was forced to drop out of high school for lack of school fees, because his family needed every dollar for food to survive a deadly famine that was taking place. William was determined to created a future for himself so he went to a recently-built community lending library and there he saw a picture of a windmill. The b...more
Ricardo Mora
It was also a land withered by drought and hunger, and a place where hope and opportunity were hard to find. But William had read about windmills in a book called Using Energy, and he dreamed of building one that would bring electricity and water to his village and change his life and the lives of those around him. His neighbors may have mocked him and called him misala—crazy—but William was determined to show them what a little grit and ingenuity could do.

Enchanted by the workings of electrici...more
Yamaly Perez
William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger, and a place where hope and opportunity were hard to find. But William had read about windmills in a book called Using Energy, and he dreamed of building one that would bring electricity and water to his village and change his life and the lives of those around him. His neighbors may have mocked him and called him misala—crazy—but William was determi...more
babyhippoface
This autobiographical picture book tells the story of fourteen-year-old William, growing up in dry Malawi. Drought took a toll on his father's farm, and William was forced to drop out of school because there was no money to pay for it. So he took responsibility for his own education. He walked to the local library (a gift from Americans) and checked out science books of all types. He was interested in them all, but was fascinated by photos and descriptions of a windmill. Determined to build one,...more
MacK
The Boy who Harnessed the Wind offers a great sense of science through a multicultural lens. The story of William Kamkwamba, a Malawian boy whose family could not afford to send him to school with crops to take in, provides every student with a sense of struggle in learning. But William's perseverance and determination led him study science in his spare time, until he could make windmills to give his village electricity and fresh water.


William's story is a miracle and the inspiration and passion...more
Barrie Cutrer
Poverty is not enough to dampen the brilliance of William Kamkwamba’s mind. He brings light to the dark nights of his small Malawi village by building a windmill. He is a shining example of human ingenuity. His tale is one of triumph over grinding poverty. I gave this book to my daughter to read in the hopes it would inspire her. Coming from the privileged West, she was impressed by Kamkwamba’s determination to build a windmill from tractor parts and odd bits of scrap. It is a good book to help...more
Kris
I was inspired by Kamkwamba's book for adults and so I felt like this picture book was a bit slight, but still it tells such a good story.

Drought comes to William's village in Malawi and crops die. William is so poor he eats only one meal a day, and he has to quit school. The village doesn't have electricity, but it does have a library with donated books. William finds an old science book in English that explains how windmills generate electricity. Windmills can power pumps that draw water up f...more
Earl
Feb 26, 2012 Earl rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012, kids
First of all, I read "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind" on the We Give Books website- http://www.wegivebooks.org - since for every book I read on their site I'm helping kids worldwide get access to their own books. It's a real cool and simple idea.

"The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind" is one of those books that was originally written for adults- it was a memoir- rewritten for a younger audience- like "Listen to the Wind" was the kid version of "Three Cups of Tea."

While the story is simplified, the mess...more
June
Mar 13, 2012 June rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: young students for black history month
A young picture book biography, of a fourteen year old boy in Malawi, who teaches himself to build a windmill to bring electricity to his home, after a drought and famine cause him to drop out of school. William uses the library and deciphers the English science books with a dictionary. In the afterword we discover several years later he built a "Green Machine" which pulled water from a small well and fed his mother's garden. He was discovered by some journalists and invited to speak at the TED...more
Kelsey Jacobs
Read this book and was extremely surprised to find out it was based on a true story; certainly reads like, "Life in Africa sucks, kids, let's donate to the poor people! Look at how awesome we are, giving them a library!" Not the intention, I'm sure. Inspiring message nonetheless.
Libby
Very cool story. Made we want to remember my electricity and magnetism better. Also, unsettling to hear how people still live in some places in Africa. The writing wasn't awesome, but English is his second language and it was still a story worth reading.
Jillian Warren
This book is a true story about a young boy from Africa that educated himself about wind energy, built a windmill from junk, and brought electricity and irrigation to his village. A wonderful story about determination.
Katie
William is just a boy in his village of Malawi. There is no money for lights and farmers were very poor. William’s family was forced to eat only one meal a day because the village was starving. Forced to drop out of school, William researched ways he can “harness” the wind to feed his village.
The Boy who Harnessed the Wind is a true story that students can learn about taking action against poverty. Instead of sulking when he could no longer attend school, he decided to use his research skills to...more
Liz
Just read this on We Give Books.org--a great site to introduce to students in an effort to get books into the hands of children and organizations all over the world. Visit the site, sign up, support different causes, visit often to read books and give donations!!

Great book. One boy CAN make a difference. Plug for the public library. 14 year old at a time of drought and famine in Malawi (Africa) and his thirst for knowledge, reads about windmills and creates one that powers electricity for his ho...more
Nicole
Found this on www.wegivebooks.org. Cute story of how a creative little boy used renewable energy to save his family and his village.
Judy Desetti
Feb 07, 2013 Judy Desetti rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: teachers grades 2-5
Recommended to Judy by: bmj consideration list
AR Reading level 5.3

Wonderful read aloud for students in grades 2-5.

A boy who lives in Africa loves to tinker and wonder what makes things work. As his family and country go into a famine he is denied education and goes to a library to learn. There he discovers a windmill photo and sets out to build one.

The story is true and wonderful for students to hear and learn how people can be resourceful. This has such a happy ending with the boy being discovered by journalists and eventually being give...more
Kellylou
"This windmill was more than a machine. It was a weapon to fight hunger."

14 year old William Kamkwamba grows up in poverty in Malawi, Africa. His upbringing and culture, paired with his inquisitive imagination start him on a path that will eventually change the lives of everyone in his boyhood farming villages.

Beautiful cut paper illustrations and William's detailed biography included in the back of the book round out this story nicely.

I can see this being paired with something like Linda Sue Pa...more
Laura
William Kamkwamba, a young boy growing up in Malawi, solves his family's electricity problem by designing and building his own windmill.

I read about Kamkwamba in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope and found this picture book adaptation to be clear, accurate, and inspirational.

Recommended for elementary students, this is a great title to add to school STEM and nonfiction collections.
Jodie
Based on a true story, it is about a boy who lives in Malawi, Africa and relies on his families ability to farm to live. Drought causes a famine and William is forced to drop out of school because his family is unable to pay for him to go. He becomes motivated to build electric wind after finding a book in a nearby library. Great story that can be used in so many different ways. One is for those that do responsive classroom and need a book to use for hopes/dreams. It is also a way to show creati...more
Edwards
Wonderful true story of a Malawi boy who made windmills for his village so they wouldn't starve. I was a bit confused about the witch planes and ghost dancers twirling around the room as he dreamed on the first page, but after that it went into his story of creating the windmills for his village. Would have liked a glossary page for the native words. The cut paper as clothes in the illustrations might mislead students into thinking Malawi people wear wallpaper for clothing, otherwise I liked the...more
Paula
When 14-year-old William Kamkwamba's Malawi village was hit by a drought in 2001, everyone's crops began to fail. His family didn't have enough money for food, let alone school, so William spent his days in the library. He came across a book on windmills and figured out how to build a windmill that could bring electricity to his village. Everyone thought he was crazy but William persevered and managed to create a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps. Several years later he figured out how...more
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William Kamkwamba was born August 5, 1987 in Malawi, and grew up on his family farm in Wimbe, two and half hours northeast of Malawi’s capital city. William was educated at Wimbe Primary School, completing 8th grade and was then accepted to secondary school. Due to severe famine in 2001-2002, his family lacked funds to pay $80 in school fees and William was forced to drop out in his freshman year....more
More about William Kamkwamba...
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind 10 Common Core Essentials: Nonfiction: Selections from New and Classic Books for the English Language Arts Standards for Middle and High School

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