Can you imagine what it would be like to have no electricity? Or how about no running water? This was everyday life for young William Kamkwamba and his family.
This powerful memoir tells the true story of William as a teenager living in Malawi, a small African nation wedged between Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe where farming is very important to the local people’s survival. Unfortunately, poor weather conditions frequently fall onto the country, and when a devastating drought strikes his tiny village, his family loses all of that year’s crops of corn.
Full of hope and determination, William decides he is going to do something about it. He turns to a book he finds at the local library called Using Energy. This book fills him with enthusiasm when he learns that windmills can create electricity and pump water. He can’t read English very well, but with the aid of diagrams he manages to teach himself how to build a windmill. He does all this despite the many challenges he faces along the way. His neighbors, and even his mother think that this plan is crazy!
Using parts that he finds in a scrapyard, including repurposing a bicycle frame and parts from an old tractor, he succeeds in building a windmill, light switches and even a circuit breaker. This allows their family to have light, and most importantly, to pump the water that they so desperately need to irrigate their farmland.
This New York Times bestselling memoir is an inspiring story of perseverance. William refuses to let go of the dreams he has for his family and for his own future. With a love of science, and love for his family he was able to accomplish the unthinkable while facing some of the toughest conditions on the planet. This book will encourage any child to consider how fortunate they are by feeling deep empathy while reading about some of William’s darkest moments in life, and to think about how much they can strive to accomplish in their own life. This book is ideal for children ages 10 to 14.
Kendra Perkins is Coordinator for the Shanghai Librarians Network, Ambassador of China for the International Librarians Network and a Head Librarian. Find her at www.TheInspiredLibrarian.com