In celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd, I highly recommend Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa. I shared this book with my students from first grade to fourth grade. We started our discussion with things we could do to protect the earth. We talked a lot about litter clean up and the 4 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot). This book gave me the opportunity to introduce the importance of trees.
Each page in Wangari’s Trees of Peace has just a sentence or two accompanied by a colorful, simple picture. The book’s simple format makes it accessible to students of all ages and leaves time for questions. The story shows students how deforestation hurt Wangari’s country of Kenya and the value of trees. Trees not only provide oxygen for us to breathe, but also provide fertile soil, protected from erosion, firewood, and habitat for birds.
My favorite part of the book is the way it shows my students that one person can take action and make change. Wangari’s determination, even going to jail to protect the trees, made a big impression on my students. At the end of each class, students clapped for Wangari’s Trees of Peace.
Wangari Maathai was born in 1940 in Kenya. After seeing the cost of deforestation in Kenya, she enlisted women to plant indigenous trees. Her Green Belt Movement resulted in the planting of over 30 million trees by 2004. Maathai won the Nobel Peace Price in 2004.
Happy Earth Day, everyone. I hope we can all make an impression on children that the Earth needs our protection not only on Earth Day but everyday.