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Literature Links
Here are books that emphasize creativity, collaboration, invention, and global awareness, just a
few of the many important skills for students today.
Girls Think of Everything, by Catherine Thim- using simple technology. The book includes
mesh (Houghton Mifflin, 2000), is a wonderful brief description of Maathai being beaten and
collection of stories about inventions created by jailed, but it is still a fine biography for ages
women and girls. From Kevlar to Tollhouse cook- six through twelve. Illustrations by the author
ies, baby carriers to “space bumpers” (shields communicate the cultural flavor of Kenya.
against flying space debris), we have women to
thank for their brilliant contributions. each short
chapter is a narrative outlining the need seen by
the inventor, a synopsis of her process (including
frustrations), and historic details. Why suggest
a book focused exclusively on women and girls?
Until as recently as the early 1800s, it wasn’t legal
for women to own a patent in their own name. In
a more recent picture book about inventors, cover-
ing a 600-year span of time portraying over forty
inventors, only two women are mentioned. Unfor-
tunately, this kind of oversight is still typical. One
way to prepare our students for the twenty-first
century is to give them role models. girls need
to see lots of examples of women who think of My School in the Rain Forest, by Mar-
themselves as mathematicians and scientists, and griet ruurs (Boyds Mills Press, 2009), is
women choosing math and science as careers. The a non-fiction book that features children in
stories in this book are good read-alouds for stu- school throughout the world. readers meet
dents in first grade and up, or independent material a student who has fled religious persecution
for older elementary students. in the Sudan learning online from teachers
thousands of miles away. Students in India sit
Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from on the ground in the jungle with an occasional
Africa, by Jeanette Winter (Harcourt, Inc., 2008), chicken or cow wandering through. In Scot-
tells the story of Wengari Maathai, the Kenyan land we read about a boy who boards with
environmentalist, activist, and 300 others in a school founded over 175 years
winner of the Nobel Peace ago. Aspects of life for the children outside
Prize for her work in the green- of school are also described. each nation’s
ing of her homeland. 30 million flag is shown and simple maps show where in
trees now stand where there the world each child lives. This is an attrac-
were none. Maathai’s simple tive and informative group of photo essays
acts and ability to mobilize that will help broaden perspectives of life and
thousands of women to plant school around the planet. The text can be read
tree seedlings provided an aloud to younger students and enjoyed inde-
environmental solution to many pendently by students through age fourteen.
problems: lack of fire wood,
poor soil, erosion, and lack of The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of
clean drinking water. Here is a Philo Farnsworth, by Kathleen Krull (Alfred
beautiful example of employ- A. Knopf, 2009), is a wonderfully written
ing twenty-first-century skills biography of the man who invented television.
to have a global impact, yet Philo was born in Utah in 1906, and from a
Page 18 • Connect © synergy learning • 800-769-6199 • January/February 2010
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