Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng” as Want to Read:
The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng

4.56  ·  Rating details ·  313 ratings  ·  91 reviews
As a boy, Jadav Payeng was distressed by the destruction deforestation and erosion was causing on his island home in India's Brahmaputra River. So he began planting trees. What began as a small thicket of bamboo, grew over the years into 1,300 acre forest filled with native plants and animals. The Boy Who Grew a Forest tells the inspiring true story of Payeng--and reminds ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 15th 2019 by Sleeping Bear Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Boy Who Grew a Forest, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Boy Who Grew a Forest

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  313 ratings  ·  91 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng
I often read books with my daughter that introduce me to people in history that I have never come across in my adult life.

This book is about a young boy, Jadav Payeng, that lives on a small island in northern India. As a young boy, he sees how the monsoon season affects his home. He finds snakes that are left stranded on sand bars and so decides to plant some trees.

He plants bamboo saplings. That's just the beginning. As Jadav grows up, he continues to harvest the forest. What develops is a lush
Gayle Krause
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pre-School and Elementary Teachers
The Boy Who Grew a Forest is an environmental story from the past that could inspire the future. It also shows children that they aren’t too small to make a huge difference in the world they live in. Though it takes place on a small river island in India many years ago, it inspires children anywhere to take charge of their little bit of the world to make their small difference grow into a vastly important one, especially in these times when certain adults ignore the Earth’s pleas for help. Many ...more
Natalee Creech
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an inspiring story of a young boy who saw a problem and took action. Throughout his life, he responds to the changing needs of the island, animals, and villagers by planting various kinds of trees and other plants. (The forest he planted is said to be more than 1,300 acres according to the biographical note at the end. ) Author Sophia Gholz tells the story exactly right, and Kayla Harren’s illustrations are gorgeous!
Jo Oehrlein
Inspiring story of a young boy who noticed a problem and started taking action. When there were unforeseen side effects, he helped counter them.

What he did took time. He's no longer a young boy at the end of the book. But he's made a huge difference.
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One person can make a difference!
Five stars for the beautiful artwork, but three for content. I feel like children will have several questions. First, there is no explanation of why Payeng was bringing dung/worms/ants/dirt, etc to his forest to "create a richer soil." As an adult I understand what he was doing, but how is a child supposed to know? And how did Payeng know this as a small boy? Second, I wanted some more factual information in the back matter. There are no photos of the real Payeng, and no resources for additional ...more
Jillian Heise
This book is fantastic!! An amazing & inspiring story about the big impact one person can make. And the illustrations are a delight.
Sandy Brehl
The star of this story is a young boy living in India, Jadav Paying, who combined careful observation with determination to make a difference. Even though the story began more than thirty years ago, the impact of hs efforts as a boy filled the first half of the book, only later following him through his adult life.
Young readers will be intrigued or appalled that his original inspiration came from the dying snakes on a barren mid-river island. What had once been a lush habitat was a dying strip
Ben Truong
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng is a children's picture book written by Sophia Gholz and illustrated Kayla Harren. It is the true story of a young boy who built a forest from the ground up in northeastern India.

Jadav "Molai" Payeng is an environmental activist and forestry worker from Majuli, popularly known as the Forest Man of India. Over the course of several decades, he has planted and tended trees on a sandbar of the river Brahmaputra turning it into a forest reser
Sophia Gholz tells that on one island home, Jadav Payeng was upset when he saw snakes who had died because their habitat was destroyed. He spoke with relatives who, according to this story, gave him a way to start, twenty bamboo shoots. He began, he devised a way to keep them watered, and they grew. That was not the end. He did not give up when more water was needed. He realized that the land needed feeding and he carried "cow dung, earthworms, termites, and angry red ants that bit him on his jo ...more
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Debut author, Sophia Gholz, teamed up with experienced illustrator, Kayla Harren, to create this inspiring true story about the powerful impact one person can have when they pair passion with action and persistence in the face of difficulties.

Jadav Payeng’s story is truly remarkable. As a young boy, he was saddened and worried by the loss of trees and the erosion of his Indian island home. So he did something about it. Starting with just 20 bamboo saplings, Jadav grew an entire forest that becam
Christina Getrost
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nice book for budding environmentalists! A picture book biography of Jadav Payeng, of India, who saw as a boy how snakes and other wildlife were dying from flooding and other problems as the trees were overharvested and habitat was stripped away. He began by planting bamboo shoots given to him by the village elders, carefully tending them, carting water in jugs to irrigate them, and gradually bringing in seeds from plants in other places as the years went by, until he had cultivated a whole fore ...more
Feb 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humane-education
Wonderful, inspiring, a gem on the shelf. FOREST details the life of Jadav Payeng, a young boy who is distressed by the destruction and flooding he sees in his Indian village, and responds not just by being sad, but by getting to work planting. He doesn't rest until an entire forest has sprung up where once was just barren and eroded land!

I loved that this book demonstrated compassion for wildlife as well as people, and the stressed the fact that we all need nature to thrive. When problems arise
Joana Pastro
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sophia Gholz tells the inspiring story of Jadav Payeng. Worried about the animals that were dying around his village, he decided to take matters in his own hands and create a new home for those animals, by -like the title says - growing a forest. Everyone would benefit from reading this book. It's a reminder that seeing what's wrong with the world isn't enough, we must act and do our part. I think it's an important book for every classroom. It's message is so powerful, my 9yo used it as an examp ...more
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Jadav Payeng was a young man, he saw the effects of deforestation first hand as animals fled, river banks eroded, and animals died. He began planting a bamboo forest in 1979. He tended to it as it grew and flourished and now has become a forest of over 1,300 acres. I am glad his story is being told, and the art is beautiful. This would pair well with stories of other climate activists like Wangari Maathai.

A fact about Payeng that was left out of the book, but a quick search will tell you, i
Becky B
A picture book biography of Jadav Payeng. As a boy he saw an island on the river devastated and decided to do something about it. He started replanting the island and continued to work on restoring it over decades, until it became a huge forest and animal reserve.

What an inspirational true story. Just a couple bamboo sprouts that turned eventually into a huge forest. There's further information in the back of the book for those hungry for more details. The illustrations in this are stunningly be
S.K. Wenger
Dec 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is something extraordinary about a boy who grows a forest, and yet, it was a task so simply done. Day by day. Plant by plant. Visit by visit. Through patience, dedication, and persistence, a thriving ecosystem came into existence. All because a young boy decided to take action and fix something that was broken.

The Boy Who Grew a Forest is based on the efforts of Jadav Payeng. who sprouted a thriving ecosystem on the Brahmaputra River in northeastern India.

The combination of Sophia Gholz'
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book about Jadav “Molai” Payeng who grew up near Majuli Island located in the Brahmaputra River, in northeastern India. As a young teenager, Jadav witnessed the death of hundreds of snakes that floodwaters stranded on a barren sandbar near the
island. Heartbroken, he decided to plant trees. At first, it was difficult for a boy to do alone but with perseverance and dedication, his small collection of bamboo trees grew into a forest. Lovely illustrations tell the incredible true
Laura Roettiger
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Boy Who Grew a Forest is the true story of a boy in India who understood the importance of trees and being an environmentalist. In a time when we hear so much negative news about the environment, it's charming to read a story that shows how one person can make a difference. I know my students will embrace this message and want to learn more about planting trees. The illustrations help create the mood throughout the story as Jadav starts out with saplings and through hard work and perseveranc ...more
Christine Evans
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One person really can make a difference to the world. In the case of Jadav Payeng, his contribution to a better world started when he was just a boy. He realized that erosion was destroying his island so he started to plant bamboo to help stop it. Years passed and a few plants became a forest. Wildlife returned and his home was saved. This is a wonderful book for the classroom, and home, to show kids that they can make a difference and stand up for what they believe in. Back matter includes inst ...more
“Only by growing plants, the earth will survive.” Jadav Payeng

A young boy, distressed by flood waters destroying the habitat of local animals, goes to his village elders to express his fears. The elders tell him that “the only way to help the animals was to create new homes for them.” They gave him 20 bamboo saplings and through his hard work and devotion he create a forest estimated at 1,300 acres.

Includes an author’s note in the back that goes into more detail. A great addition to the library
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A truly inspiring book. I have been trying to find books where kids can make a difference. It was just published -2019. It is a true story.

Here is a boy who made a difference on his own after finding snakes dying because of a flood that destroyed their habitat. He on his own planted bamboo. It turned into 1300 acres, after 30 years.

I absolutely adored the quotes and the illustrations. "the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is now." proverb
Beth Anderson
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pure and simple – I have a special place in my heart for trees. It probably comes from growing up on a tree farm…but even if I hadn’t, I think I would love trees for their beauty and all they provide. In the story, a young boy leads the way. He grows in capacity along with his forest, becoming stronger with each challenge. The story is empowering for kids – they matter, small efforts make a difference, and their innate sense of justice can reawaken awareness in adults. It also offers up reasons ...more
Belinda Grimbeek
I True stories have a way of grabbing your attention just because they’re real. I was mesmerized by the story not only because of the plight of a dwindling forest and the harsh realities of life along an Indian river, but also because the author was able to tell this story in a soothing and calm tone and the illustrator complimented the dreamy rebirth of an island with soft and gentle illustrations. A very interesting feel to this book which left me feeling uplifted and wanting to go plant a tre ...more
Elizabeth Steinglass
When so much of the news about our environment is overwhelmingly negative, it is refreshing and important to read a biography about a person who has made a positive impact on his local environment. When Jadev was a boy he noticed what happened when the trees were destroyed by flood. He shared his concern with village elders who gave him bamboo to plant. The book illustrates the value of hard work and ingenuity and the relationships between plants and animals.
Vivian Kirkfield
A must read book for every child...and parent and teacher! This is the story of one boy's desire to help the animals and bring life back to the land. Lyrical text pairs perfectly with glowing illustrations - kids will feel as if they are right there with Jadav Payeng and will be cheering for his success! Thoughtful back matter and a plant-a-seed activity allow for further engagement.

This is a thoroughly brilliant picture book about an unsung hero that won my heart!
Yevgenia Nayberg
Based on the true story, The Boy Who Grew a Forest takes you on a journey to India. It is a touching story about compassion and love for nature. This picture book introduces a young reader to animals and plants in a poetic way. You witness the growth of a child and a growth of a forest together- a beautiful metaphor for the cycle of life. The plant-growing instructions at the end add a lovely interactive component that kids would surely enjoy!
Shannon Stocker
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This inspiring true story about a boy who yearned to make a difference in the world should find a home on every bookshelf. Eloquently written and beautifully illustrated, this touching story reinforces that small actions are never small, but instead can serve as the foundation for something much bigger. We are limited only by what we can envision. Thanks to Jadev "Molai" Payeng's vision, a home now exists for countless plants and animals in a most unexpected place. ...more
Jolene Gutiérrez
This gorgeous book belongs in every classroom and library! When young Jadav Payeng saw that floods were eroding the land and endangering animals and humans, he wanted to make a difference. Village elders gave him 20 bamboo saplings, and with those saplings, he began growing his forest. His passion for caring for all life grew as his forest grew. Such an inspiring story for kids--one person can make a difference!
Meera Sriram
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of a little change-maker, this book is about a boy who turns compassion into action. One seed, one plant, one tree at a time, he grows a forest. And makes his home, a river island in northern India, a greener home for many species. Written in simple lyrical language, the words flow beautifully to tie in with the lush artwork in earthy tones. The back matter offers readers a way to take action, beyond leaving them touched and inspired - a perfect finish to a children's book! ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando
  • Just Like Me
  • All the Way to the Top: How One Girl's Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything
  • If I Built a School
  • Carl and the Meaning of Life
  • Your Name Is a Song
  • Packs: Strength in Numbers
  • Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom
  • The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever
  • Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln
  • Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles
  • One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
  • When a Kid Like Me Fights Cancer
  • The Paper Kingdom
  • Pass Go and Collect $200: The Real Story of How Monopoly Was Invented
  • The Crayon Man: the True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons
  • Duckworth, the Difficult Child
  • Outside In
See similar books…
Sophia Gholz is an award-winning children's book author, magic seeker and avid reader. Sophia enjoys writing fiction with humor and heart. When writing nonfiction, she pulls on her love of science and her strong family background in ecology. When she’s not writing, you can find Sophia reading a book, visiting schools or exploring the great outdoors with her family.

Sophia’s debut book, The Boy Who

News & Interviews

Ciannon Smart has been holed up in her England home since the pandemic began a year ago, but by no means has she been idle. She’s been on...
15 likes · 3 comments