Mama Miti by Donna Jo Napoli; Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
September 13, 2010 in Books with Science Content, Books with Science Content, Books With Social Studies Content, character education, Elementary Educators, Fighting world poverty, Helping Girls and Women Around the World, multicultural books, Napoli Donna Jo, Picture Book, Preschool to 1st grade teachers, Research Ideas Tags: Donna Jo Napoli, green literacy, Kadir Nelson, Mama Miti, picture books about Africa, Wangari Maathai
Mama Miti by Donna Jo Napoli with illustrations by Caldecott Honor Winner, Kadir Nelson, is about the great Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Muta Maathai, from Kenya. I have written about her on my blog before because this is one woman that I just REALLY admire, and I think her story is important to share with children. She helped Kenyan women and children by suggesting they plant trees and getting back in touch with nature. She educated herself and then went back to her country to show girls that they can too educate themselves and work for the common good. If anyone deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, it’s certainly Wangari.
This book is a little different than Seeds of Change by Jen Cullerton Johnson in that Mama Miti focuses mostly on how women came from all over Kenya to ask Wangari for help. Her advice was to plant certain types of trees to take care of the problems the women were having. If the woman complained of a lack of food, Wangari told her to plant a tree and gave her seeds. If the woman complained of the cattle being sick, Wangari told her to plant a certain type of tree with leaves that cure disease. Mama Miti shows how nature can really provide and make a difference, and how strong women can also take care of themselves–especially with a little guidance from someone as knowledgeable and loving as Wangari Maathai.
This book also has wonderful illustrations by Kadir Nelson and resources and author’s notes in the back as well as a glossary of Kikuyu terms, which are used throughout the book.
Why share Mama Miti with your students or children? Use this book to start a discussion about how people can take care of themselves and maybe with a little help–it reminds me of the organization, Heifer International. You can also talk about the importance of planting trees and taking care of nature as well as going green tips. This book can also bring up a history lesson about how much people used to rely on nature, crops, and so on in the past when there weren’t grocery stores to visit or farmers growing food for all of us. You can also use this book to teach about a strong and wonderful woman who can be a role model for young girls all around the world.