The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

After finally deciding to take the Read The World challenge (I’m taking out the part where you do it in a year. Ain’t nobody – me- got time for that), I found that reading on my phone in downtimes was easiest and was able to download this gem!

If I had to describe the type of person most likely to connect with this book, I’d say someone with a curious mind and tinkering fingers. It’s a book that I hope to see my sons pull off the shelf one day, and I think that’s the highest praise I can give a book. It’s an easy read, appropriate for the any of avid readers, but the peek into Malawian culture is fantastic for any age group.

And for those who love a good illustrated biography, as you should all know I absolutely do, here is the version my son has become attached to. It does a beautiful job of telling the same story with illustrations that take you straight to Malawi. It’s perfect to keep the whole family engaged in your book club sessions, which I’m sure you have weekly. I love this book! But the rest of this review I’ll focus on the novel version.

This story about William Kamkwamba really challenges any limitations that society and individuals have built around themselves from creating a better tomorrow. As a young man surviving famine and poverty with his family, Kamkwamba is determined to get the education he craves, and not just the education that test scores and money say he can handle. As someone who has been blessed with access to a good education, it definitely made me realize that I did school all wrong. Lack of resources, knowledge and money stacked up right next to the name-calling and jokes, but none of this slowed down Kamkwamba, and I’m all here for it. I love picturing this uneducated, skinny teenager out there wanting to learn how he can do something. So he does.

While the storytelling (in the novel version) can get lost in small sections as he describes his discoveries and innovations, the descriptions of traditional beliefs, the towns, trials, Malawian speech and other cultural aspects carry the story along in a way that kept me turning the pages. Well, swiping the pages really, but that’s irrelevant.

And let’s be honest – how many of you can tell me three facts about Malawi off the top of your head? Heck, how many knew that a country called Malawi even existed!? For me, finding out where in the world Malawi even is was a big pull to read the book. And now that I’ve read it, I notice mentions of Malawi everywhere! (Thanks, my little Google spies and algorithms.)

If you haven’t yet, read this book and tell me your three favorite things about Malawi, and I’ll tell you mine (based off the book, of course, since I have no firsthand knowledge). Happy reading!

Don’t have time to read it? Fine. I’ll give you the cheat as well. But I’m telling you, it’s not as good as the book and you’re just going to be left confused and wondering how he got to this point. Then you’re going to have to read the book anyway! (Insert evil laugh here.) Remember that William Kamkwamba is a real man and this is a true story, so here is his first ever TED talk appearance in 2007. I think he was 19 at the time.

And don’t forget there’s a whole movie about it on Netflix!

Do you have enough options to learn about William Kamkwamba yet? I’d love to hear which one you choose and how it enriched your child’s learning!

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