Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees, by Franck Prévot (ages 7-12)

Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work helping women throughout Africa planting trees to improve the environment and their quality of life. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, I am excited to share this new picture book about her struggles and accomplishments with my students.

Wangari Maathai
The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees
by Franck Prévot
illustrated by Aurélia Fronty
Charlesbridge, 2015
Your local library
Amazon
ages 7-12
*best new book*

Maathai’s political activism shines through in this biography, in her determination to reverse environmental damage caused by large, colonial plantations and empower local villagers–especially women–to improve their local conditions.

This biography allows students to develop a deeper understanding of the political, economic and social structures Maathai stood up against. I love being able to share with students the value of reading more than one book on a subject, seeing how different authors draw out different details. I would start by reading Seeds of Change, by Jen Cullerton Johnson, and watching a short video on Maathai. If you build background knowledge, students can then dig into statements such as this:

“The government officials who built their fortunes by razing forests try to stop Wangari. Who is this woman who confronts them with a confident voice in a country where women are supposed to listen and lower their eyes in men’s presence?”

Definitely add this new picture book biography to your collection as you celebrate Women’s History month.

Read my full review at Great Kid Books.

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Chernobyl’s Dead Zone by Rebecca Johnson

Chernobyls Wild KingdomCindy: Almost 30 years ago, when I was a baby librarian—and not too many years after acquiring my college protest marching “No-Nukes” button—a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine exploded and the news was full of the fallout. Today’s students may be fuzzy on the details, if they even know about this devastating accident. Rebecca Johnson will bring them up to speed with her book, Chernobyl’s Wild Kingdom: Life in the Dead Zone (2014).

While the book focuses on the radioactive wildlife and the research being done in the Ukrainian ghost town of Pripyat and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the opening chapter sets the stage….

Lynn:  What a fascinating subject! Who would have imagined that wildlife would exist at all in the Exclusion Zone, where the radiation is measuring at what we have assumed to be horrifyingly dangerous levels….(more)

Check out our whole post about this book at our Bookends Blog post for Chernobyl’s Dead Zone over at the Booklist Reader.

Animals and the Environment

Animals and the environment
Animals and the environment

SCIENCE (K-2)

Animals and the Environment
by Jennifer Boothroyd

ATOS 2.3 380L

Why do animals live in different environments?

Help K-5 students answer this essential question (and meet the Common Core State Standards) with the Teaching STEM lesson plans for this mentor text: Animals in the Environment by Jennifer Boothroyd.

Students will examine the essential question, “Why do animals live in different environments?”

teachingstem-med

In small groups, they will read and research information about a specific animal and use the text features from the books to locate facts about their animal and why it lives in a specific environment. Using their combined information, the students will create a diagram or other text feature to illustrate the information they have gathered. They will include at least one animal adaptation that enables it to live in its specific habitat. Students will post their text features and students will move around the room to read them.

See more of this lesson plan on the Teaching STEM blog.