Title: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Author: William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Concepts: innovation; natural, human, and capital resources; scarcity.
Review: Already at a very young age, William Kamkwamba dreamed of building things like radios and trucks, and then taking them apart. As a teenager, driven by hunger pangs induced by drought and the resulting devastation to Malawi's crops, William dreamed of building a windmill to produce electricity and pump water.
He decided he would go to the library down the road and learn how to turn those dreams into reality. So he worked hard and used those library books to teach himself how to build a windmill. The village people thought William was crazy when they saw him playing around with a bunch of trash. Could such a rudimentary contraption really make a difference?
This picture book version of the adult best seller shines the spotlight on an inspiring teen who worked hard against all odds to bring electricity and water to his village. The compelling story provides an opportunity to introduce young learners to a number of economics concepts, including scarcity, natural resources, and innovation. One can only hope that more projects such as the one started by William will reduce the vulnerability of people in developing countries to drought and hunger.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children