Monday, July 6, 2009

Three Cups of Tea (for Children!)

Two years ago I read the book Three Cups of Tea and was both moved and awestruck by the story of how one man-Greg Mortenson-made such a big difference in the lives of the children of Pakistan. His determination to bring schools to children, in even the most remote villages, was an inspiration. So what a pleasant surprise to find that there's a children's picture book that tells his story.

Listen to the Wind by Greg Mortenson and Susan Roth tells the story of how "Dr. Greg" first wandered into the village of Korphe as a lost and sick mountain climber, and how he was nursed back to health by the village residents. It's told in the voices of the children of Korphe, which should appeal to young readers. "Dr. Greg" saw that the children of the village didn't have a full time teacher and often learned outside, drawing their lessons in the dirt with a stick. He also witnessed the deep desire they had to learn. Mortenson was grateful for the kindness they showed him during his stay, and promised the villagers that he would come back and build them a school. The first part of Listen to the Wind tells the story of his return and of the obstacles he (and the villagers) faced as they built that first school. The second part is a scrapbook of actual photographs of the people and events surrounding his amazing venture. Both parts of the book are worth exploring in depth with your child.

Susan Roth's colorful, bold collages are made of scrap paper, fabric, and actual artifacts from Pakistan. They bring a tactile quality to the page that makes you want to touch each picture. There's an extensive Artist's Note in the back where Roth explains her thought process. She describes how she was inspired by the Pakistani's resourcefulness and ability to use everything, and not throw away anything.

Listen to the Wind is an exceptional book that should be required reading for all elementary aged children. Greg Mortenson's story is amazing, but the more compelling message is the difference one individual can make in the world.

BookNosher Tidbit: Parents and teachers can take some time to explore the Three Cups of Tea website. There you will find out more information about Greg Mortenson and his non-profit organization the Central Asia Institute. There's also a Reading Guide and a Question and Answer Interview for use in classrooms, book clubs etc.

BookNosher Activity: Greg Mortenson started another non-profit organization-Pennies for Peace- that has tens of thousands of participants around the globe. Mortenson recognized that a penny by itself is virtually worthless, but when pooled together it can become a powerful tool in helping alleviate illiteracy in impoverished countries. Click here for more information about Pennies for Peace. But in the meantime, grab an empty jar and have your child start collecting pennies. It's an easy way for them to feel like they are helping other children in the world.

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