Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa

posted Nov 11, 2009, 10:36 PM by Dan Thiede
By Jeanette Winter
Harcourt Children’s Book Publishers, 2008

Wangari Maathai is a world famous environmental and human rights activists who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2004. This beautifully written and illustrated picture book shares key events from the life story of this remarkable leader. In her effort to protect the environment and the lives of millions in Kenya, Wangari has worked tirelessly to encourage her fellow citizens to plant trees and preserve the forests. She started the Green Belt Movement as an answer to the deforestation that was happening around her the impact that it had on the lives of her fellow citizens. She continues to speak throughout the world to encourage all of us to make wise decisions regarding sustainability and peace.

After reading the life story of Wangari Maathai it may be interesting for participants to identify protected land in the area where you live. Why is the land protected? Who takes care of the land? How can people help to protect land in their area?

Some possible discussion questions:
  • What was the issue that Wangari observed and what did she do to try to solve the problem she was noticing?
  • Are there similar problems where you live?  How clean is your water?  Is there an issue with deforestation?  Are there any pollution problems?
  • People make choices that impact the environment.  When the environment around us changes it impacts people in very direct and indirect ways.  What kinds of choices are we making that negatively impact the environment around us?  This is a big question – students can look at this through their personal choices, through the businesses in the community in which they live, and through the national and international actions and policies of corporations, governments, laws and policies (depending on their age).
Plant a Tree: Wangari Maathai encourages us to plant a tree in our own backyard as well as think about how to restore our local environment to what grows naturally and is indigenous to the area.

Nobel Peace Prize Festival: This is an excellent book to launch a study of one of the recent Nobel Peace Prize winners that your students could study and present at the next Peace Prize Festival held at Augsburg college!

Resources to continue discussing the themes in this book:
  • Rethinking Globalization is a teachers resource that is published by the organization Rethinking Schools that offers teachers and parents lots of ideas on how to discuss the issues of globalization and how the actions and policies related to our global economic systems impacts human rights, animal rights and environmental sustainability.
  • Zoe Weil and her work through the International Institute for Humane Education have a great bank of lessons for teachers and parents who want to have deep and meaningful learning connected to issues related to human rights, animal rights and environmental sustainability. Zoe has written an excellent book for parents called Above All Else Be Kind and a wonderful resource book for teachers called The Power and Promise of Humane Education which is filled with resources and ideas to have meaningful discussions with students about their personal impact on the future of the earth and how to live peacefully and with a mission of justice. She recently released a book for anyone interested in these important topics called Most Good, Least Harm
Find this book
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Book review by Kevin McGee
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