"Harabee!  Let's work together!"

 — Wangari Maathai
 

Wangari Maathai is founder of the Green Belt movement, a prominent women’s civil society based in Kenya that advocates for human rights, good governance and peaceful democratic change through the protection of the environment. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her environmental activism.

Her story is an inspiration, for kids and adults, because it emphasizes how a simple, peaceful message can produce great change. It sends a phenomenal message to young girls that they can do absolutely anything they set their minds to — no matter the obstacles.

There are several books out there about this fascinating lady, and I was recently reminded about her story by one great new book that was sent to me for review, "Seeds of Change: Wangari's Gift to the World", by Jen Cullerton Johnson.

"Seeds of Change" is an excellent biography about Wangari, covering her eventual contribution to Africa as well as her childhood, her education, and even her arrest for spreading her peaceful message. It is written for 9- to 12-year-olds, but my 7-year-old absolutely gobbled it up. And my 4-year-old could not tear her eyes away from the vibrant, batik-style illustrations that fill every page.

It certainly earned a place on our bookshelf. And I'm so glad that it reminded me of such a inspirational story. In fact, Maathai's own book, "The Challenge For Africa", is now on my summer reading list.  

"African women in general need to know that it's OK for them to be the way they are — to see the way they are as a strength, and to be liberated from fear and from silence."
— Wangari Maathai

  

Photo of Wangari Maathai by Flickr/daveblume