Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize

posted Nov 11, 2009, 9:49 PM by Dan Thiede   [ updated Nov 11, 2009, 10:02 PM ]
By Kathy-Jo Wargin
Illustrated by Zachary Pullen
Sleeping Bear Press, 2009

This picture book helps us learn about the man behind the creation of the Nobel Peace Prize! The Nobel Peace Prize was first awarded in 1901. The prize was created by Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite and one of the richest men in Europe. This beautifully illustrated picture book explains how Alfred invented new ways to use nitroglycerin in safe ways. His goal was to make large scale building projects safer for people who needed explosives to clear the way for bridge and road construction. It was not his intention that people would use his invention to develop new military weapons. He was very sad that people used his invention to hurt others.  He was determined to leave a legacy of peace and encourage others to serve the world in a positive manner. After he died he donated most of his money to the creation of the Nobel Prizes which includes one of the most famous awards for people who work for peace.

Each year, many school age children in Minnesota participate in the Nobel Peace Prize Festival held at Augsburg college every spring. The children study one of the past recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize and prepare a presentation to honor the recipient they chose. The presentations often include songs, dances, speeches, art projects and typically a display about the Nobel Prize Winner. All schools are invited to attend the Nobel Peace Prize Festival and to learn more about the Festival and how you can participate—learn more on the Nobel Peace Prize Festival page.

This would be a wonderful book to teach students who may be attending the Festival about the history of the Nobel Peace Prize and the man who created this international tradition.  

It’s a great book for all children to think about the legacy they want to leave in the world. We all have choices in our lives everyday. The choices we make impact our own sense of well being, other people, the earth and the animals we share the planet with.

What kind of impact do you want your choices to have? Some of our choices have a negative impact and some of our choices have a positive impact. Sometimes we have to choose between certain things and choose the one that does the least harm.

These do not have to be big choices. Our little, everyday choices have great impact. When we choose to drink water do we use tap water or buy bottle water? When we sit down to eat, do we think about where the food came from, how it is grown, and if anyone or animals were harmed in creating the food we eat? When we need clothes do we think about who made the clothes and how they were treated or how far the clothes had to be shipped in order to buy them? When we brush our teeth do we think about the toothpaste we use—is it made naturally or with chemicals—was it tested on animals?

Each of us make choices everyday—what impact do you want to have on the world? Alfred Nobel wanted to serve people and make the world a better place—what is your goal in life?

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Book review by Kevin McGee