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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,999 ratings  ·  362 reviews
The New York Times bestselling memoir of the heroic young inventor who brought electricity to his Malawian village is now perfect for young readers

When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba's tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season's crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. William began to explore science books in his village l
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 5th 2015 by Dial Books (first published February 1st 2015)
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Stacey Not sure if it'll be helpful this long after you posted this question, but I've read the young reader's edition and am about to begin the original…moreNot sure if it'll be helpful this long after you posted this question, but I've read the young reader's edition and am about to begin the original edition. I can follow up when I'm done!(less)

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4.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,999 ratings  ·  362 reviews

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Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is so touching.

Despite the odds being stacked so high up against William, with a famine and a school drop-out, the tale of this one boy who refused to give up on his dreams of bringing light and water into the lives of his fellow villagers in Malawi will inspire me everyday, and help me realize,

"Sometimes, all you have to do is try."
- William Kamkwamba
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Helen, Elizabeth and my grandkids
Recommended to Deyanne by: Michelle Fawson
Inspirational, uplifting and just a quick fulfilling read...go for it! This is a true story about a young African boy who was fascinated with science. His life was a challenging one. He hungered to attend school and his curiosity was never satiated. Time after time he met with discouragement and heartache. There was no money to send him to school. There was a devastating famine. There was death and discouragement and always a lack of funds. Nevertheless, he persevered and his story is a memorabl ...more
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this for a STEM class. It's a fantastic little book that I think kids should read because it will really open their eyes to what life is like in impoverished areas of the world. It also shows the importance of learning, books, and resilence.
Lindsey Jones
Fantastic! I have been reading through a stack of books to share with my 7th graders as we wrap up the year. This book ranks high on that list as it so perfectly incorporates everything I have worked to instill in them this year: perseverence, finding truth through research, overcoming obstacles, speaking out and doing something about injustices around the world or in our own communities, not being defined by where you come from... This book has it all! Can't wait to share and chat with some you ...more
This is such a powerful/inspiring/infuriating story, wow. I was on the verge of tears through most of it. The intense odds William Kamkwamba overcame--near starvation during a famine, being forced to drop out of school, having access to only an extremely minimal library of books that weren't even in his own language--to be able to build a working electrical windmill... and also a radio station... like, damn, son.

This is written in a pretty straightforward way, but careful to contextualize conce
Graeme Anshaw
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An inspiring story that I plan to encourage my Year 6 students to write. Teaches motivation, resilience, taking action, creativity and what it means to be an inquirer amongst other important themes.
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read this book to my fourth grade class as we studied African countries, and it was a hit! Powerful true story about a boy in Malawi who survived famine/starvation and used his creativity and love for Science to harness wind-power for electricity.
Cristina Quattrone
So wish I had the time to read this entire book with my class for our Kids with Courage unit, but will definitely share his TEDTalk and certain sections.

His story really made me reflect on how our school system often unintentionally grinds out the natural curiosity that blooms in every child. His sheer will to survive is what made him so invested in continuing his education, even after he no longer had the means to attend, and pursue his own independent studies in the local library. Literacy is
Zilan Xiong
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Like Salva in ALWTW, the main character of "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind", William Kamkwamba, lives in Africa and faces the harsh reality of poverty. However, William faces different problems than Salva did. While Salva became a refugee due to Sudan's civil war, William is put through the pain of one of Malawi's famines. In ALWTW, Salva runs away from the war and makes it to a refugee camp in Kenya. From there, he is recognized by American social workers and is given the chance to move to the ...more
Abby Douglass
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Since the dawn of the modern age, mankind has persisted to create and innovate in order to make life better. Inventions that were once thought to be impossible have been achieved over and over again. Even Thomas Edison, one of the most important inventors in history, faced countless challenges in his attempt to create light from electricity. Had he given up, we might never have had the light bulb, which went on to change the course of history.

In the biography The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind, by
Ryan Cinfel
Apr 09, 2019 added it
Shelves: nonfiction
I would use this book as a crossover for two different subject areas, both social studies and science. In our third grade social studies, we cover a unit about wants and needs, as well as, families around the world. Topics in this unit include food and housing in different parts of the world and access to different forms of energy. This would fit great with the book since it goes into detail about foods that are made, how the famine affected the family, and how the main character gained access t ...more
Savannah Phipps
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
I love, love, loved this book. It was worth taking the extra time to get through the whole thing (as it was a little longer than my other selections). I love it, so much so that I bought my own copy! I think it really challenges this idea of a "single story" that we've been discussing when talking about different cultures and ways of living. Had our standards for our re-envisioning project aligned a little better with this book, I definitely would have used this as a text during my lessons. The ...more
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Inspiring and uplifting, it made me want to be a better person and really see and appreciate the wonders around me (light from a switch, running water, easy access to education). I appreciated that the writing was accessible to younger readers, this being the young reader’s version, without being frail or empty. Heavy subjects were tackled appropriately (starvation, theft, death) and the science was approached with excitement and curiosity and not dumbed down too much so there was nothing to lea ...more
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was an eye-opener, and William is my new hero! He was so smart and strong and brave and persistent! There were essentially four parts to the book. The ups and downs of life in Malawi before the big famine. The terrible difficulties of survival during the famine. William finds a book about science and figures out how electricity works (and explains it better than I've ever heard before) and builds a windmill out of recycled junk. What happens after that I guess I won't tell but will enc ...more
Ciara Ryan
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The main character in this book is William Kamkwamba. Wiliam grew up in a town in Africa and life hasn't been so easy for him. His dad is a farmer and he has to wake up early in mornings to go out in the fields to work. Also, William loves school. He dreams about getting into one of the best schools in his district but unfortunetly that doesn't happen. His family doesn't have the money to pay the fees so he is forced to stay at home. With his time t=her goes to the library and finds fascinating ...more
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly powerful story of perseverance and determination. A story about William who grows up in rural Africa in Malawi who is under control of President Muluzi who appears to do everything in his power to make it impossible to make a profit from farming. After his family is completely wiped out of money, William is forced to drop out of school because his parents can no longer afford it. Determined to further his education, William spends his days researching and teaching himself how to bu ...more
May 16, 2018 rated it liked it
The inspiring story of William Kamkwamba who grows up in Malawi during a time of famine. William’s family can’t afford to send him to school so he borrows textbooks from his library to educate himself, ultimately creating a windmill out of junk and scraps to bring electricity to his village. I skimmed through some sections that explained the specifics of this process; too detailed for me, but others might love the detail. This edition would be great for 5th-9th grade readers.
Elizabeth Ricks
May 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Reading about conditions in Malawi made me feel sad because of the economic disparity that exists throughout the world. Such a small amount of electricity (a drop in the bucket for us) would mean so much to the people in Africa. The book also made me even more convinced that a basic education must be free to all.
Lisa Mcbroom
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: inspiring-books
If ever a case is made for libraries this is the book! William Kamkwamba grew up poor in Malawi . When starvation hits the village, William is forced to drop out of school because of funds. One day a library opens in his village and William discovers books on machinery. He learns how to make a windmill which helps save his village. This is a very inspirational story of why libraries are so important.
Faidz Zainal Abidin
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Think of your dreams and ideas as tiny miracle machines inside you that no one can touch. The more faith you put into them, the bigger they get, until one day they'll rise up and taken you with them.”

Inspirational read. Looking forward to watch the film.
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-book
This well-told story of a young African boy who brought energy to his village was sweet and fun! We listened to it as a family, and we all enjoyed seeing how he eventually made his way to an American university and back to Africa full-circle. My boys loved hearing all of the technicalities involved with the little scientific creations.
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We ended up finishing this read-aloud on our road trip and the whole family loved it! An amazing true story of resilience, bravery, and the power of books and education. Highly recommend.
Tumelo Moleleki
Wow, what a story. Another biography that I have enjoyed reading.
Amanda Bond
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very good for upper elementary and middle school
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing!
Jayne  Downes
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
An amazing story that shows how a young man living in poverty in Malawi achieved so much against the odds because of his determination and innovation. The parts of the story where he described living with starvation during a famine were shocking. Terrible too that people had to pay to attend the local school and William's family could not afford the fees so he could not attend. Easy to read biography about a great role model for today's youth.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing biography about a young boy who overcame all odds in Africa. This is a great book for young readers and a STEAM curriculum.
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
KJ Jones
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I used this book to teach my 7th grade students about solving our world’s problems using STEM. It has really great messages about perseverance, and it’s quite relatable for my at-risk population. Kids come into my classroom each day and immediately pull this book off the shelf. I am hoping that they find this book to be empowering, and that it reaches the students who maybe aren’t as interested in English as they are in Science, Math, Coding, etc.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
*me shouting from the rooftops*
...or listen to it on Audible which might be even better ;)
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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
“Think of your dreams and ideas as tiny miracle machines inside you that no one can touch. The more faith you put into them, the bigger they get, until one day they'll rise up and taken you with them.” 5 likes
“I remembered a parable that Jesus told to the disciples, the one about the sower of seeds. The seeds planted along the road get stepped on and damaged, those planted in rocky soil can’t take root, and the ones planted in the thorns get tangled in the barbs. But the seeds planted on fertile soil live and prosper.” 3 likes
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