The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
One thing that I will leave with each one of you—I would just like to guide you:
A lot of amazing things in the world are made possible if you trust yourself. In everything you do, you are going to face some challenges but always try to reach out to your teacher to help you, to guide you to achieve your goals. Because, all the people that are successful today faced some challenges, but they didn’t allow their challenges to take away from their dreams and goals.
Q & A with Ms. Rebecca Jelen (RJ)
kik: How did you arrive at selecting The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind as the All-School Read for both Bacich and Kent?
RJ: After reading Alan Gratz’s Refugee as a whole school last year, I had in mind that we needed another compelling story to tether our next school year and our ASR to for the next school year. The concepts in Refugee really opened our students’ eyes to a whole new world many knew very little about and reading the book together allowed for some incredible discussions and understanding for our students. The speakers we brought in through the year and the author visit really brought it all home to our students, and I was reading potential books throughout the rest of the school year through this lens.
After reading William’s story, I just knew that The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind would be a good fit. We gathered a committee together at Kent to talk about other potential choices, and we unanimously agreed that this would be an inspiring and eye-opening story for our students to read and something we could connect to every subject area. We also realized that the grade level throughlines at Kent — Responsibility, Impact, Perseverance and Legacy — are inextricably linked to the themes in William’s story! The fact that he took a real issue in his town and help to solve a problem through his own motivation and self-directed learning is something our students can truly aspire to!
kik: Is this the first time that we’ve had an All-District read? Can you share about how this program took shape to include both schools?
RJ: We have never (as far as I know) done an All District Read. We are always looking for ways to connect our schools and when I read this book and realized that there are three different versions of the story for so many ages, I sent the picture book to Susan and asked if she would be interested in asking the Bacich staff if they would like to participate in an All District Read. We met last spring with a combined group from Kent and Bacich and we were off and running!
kik: What was your favorite moment of the book and why?
RJ: I think the moment when William finally has everything he needs and gets the windmill up and running in front of a doubting crowd of villagers is the most memorable moment in the book. When I was reading it aloud to the 50 plus students that were in the library during our all school read, all the students were clapping and cheering. The same thing happened when we showed the film!
kik: What three words would you use to describe the book?
RJ: Inspiring, heart wrenching, incredible.
kik: For those who want to read other similar books, do you have any recommendations?
RJ: Yes! See this list [shown below].
kik: You also hosted a movie night at Kent featuring the Netflix movie adaptation of the book. How did it go?
RJ: We had about 200 people there from Kent and Bacich. We used the event to build community and we had some amazing parent, WEB leader and staff volunteers who chaperoned and purchased and sold concessions, which we used to fundraise for the remainder of the funds we needed to bring the author to Kent.
kik: What was the general program of the Maker Day event held on November 16th?
RJ: Mr. Pembleton had a variety of windmill making activities set up for students. He gave an overview on what windmills are and described all of the stations. Students worked in teams to make pinwheels, cut blades to make windmills, and created their own designs with cardboard to make vertical windmills. The activities were led by eighth graders, with competitions at the end for fastest windmills. It was a great day!
kik: Is there anything else you’d like to add? Something you’d like our school community to know, understand or think about?
RJ: Reading is the ultimate pathway to empathy and understanding. Using books as mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors into the experiences of others can change and expand our thinking and ultimately change the world!! I truly feel that the renewed enthusiasm at Kent for reading culturally relevant books is creating our own mini revolution!
If you enjoyed reading The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind…
You might enjoy one of these titles, which are all available for check out in the Kent Library. All summaries are from Amazon.
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.
Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate
Kek comes from Africa where he lived with his mother, father, and brother. But only he and his mother have survived. Now she’s missing, and Kek has been sent to a new home. In America, he sees snow for the first time, and feels its sting. He wonders if the people in this new place will be like the winter―cold and unkind. But slowly he makes friends: a girl in foster care, an old woman with a rundown farm, and a sweet, sad cow that reminds Kek of home. As he waits for word of his mother’s fate, Kek weathers the tough Minnesota winter by finding warmth in his new friendships, strength in his memories, and belief in his new country.
The Finest Hours by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman
This adaptation for young readers of The Finest Hours: The True Story of the US Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman tells the story of the shipwreck of two oil tankers and the harrowing Coast Guard rescue when four men in a tiny lifeboat overcame insurmountable odds and saved more than 30 stranded sailors. Now a major motion picture from Disney, starring Chris Pine and Casey Affleck.
On the night of February 18, 1952, during one of the worst winter storms that New England has ever seen, two oil tankers just off the shore of Cape Cod were torn in half. With the storm in full force and waves up to 70 feet high, four coast guardsmen headed out to sea in a tiny lifeboat to come to the rescue. They were the only hope for the stranded sailors. Despite incredible obstacles, these brave men risked their lives, remembering the unofficial Coast Guard motto: You have to go out, but you do not have to come back.
I Will Always Write Back- How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Martin Ganda and Caitlin Aliferenka
It started as an assignment. Everyone in Caitlin’s class wrote to an unknown student somewhere in a distant place.
Martin was lucky to even receive a pen-pal letter. There were only ten letters, and fifty kids in his class. But he was the top student, so he got the first one.
That letter was the beginning of a correspondence that spanned six years and changed two lives.
In this compelling dual memoir, Caitlin and Martin recount how they became best friends–and better people–through their long-distance exchange. Their story will inspire you to look beyond your own life and wonder about the world at large and your place in it.
A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.
What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.
In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
I Am Malala. This is my story.
Malala Yousafzai was only ten years old when the Taliban took control of her region. They said music was a crime. They said women weren’t allowed to go to the market. They said girls couldn’t go to school.
Raised in a once-peaceful area of Pakistan transformed by terrorism, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. So she fought for her right to be educated. And on October 9, 2012, she nearly lost her life for the cause: She was shot point-blank while riding the bus on her way home from school.
No one expected her to survive.
Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand
On a May afternoon in 1943, an American military plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary sagas of the Second World War.
The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. As a boy, he had been a clever delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and stealing. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a supreme talent that carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when war came, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.
Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a sinking raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would respond to desperation with ingenuity, suffering with hope and humor, brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would hang on the fraying wire of his will.
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
For readers of Unbroken, out of the depths of the Great Depression comes the astonishing tale of nine working-class boys from the American West who at the 1936 Olympics showed the world what true grit really meant. With rowers who were the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew was never expected to defeat the elite East Coast teams, yet they did, going on to shock the world by challenging the German boat rowing for Adolf Hitler.
At the center of the tale is Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, whose personal quest captures the spirit of his generation—the generation that would prove in the coming years that the Nazis could not prevail over American determination and optimism.
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose
At the outset of World War II, Denmark did not resist German occupation. Deeply ashamed of his nation’s leaders, fifteen-year-old Knud Pedersen resolved with his brother and a handful of schoolmates to take action against the Nazis if the adults would not. Naming their secret club after the fiery British leader, the young patriots in the Churchill Club committed countless acts of sabotage, infuriating the Germans, who eventually had the boys tracked down and arrested. But their efforts were not in vain: the boys’ exploits and eventual imprisonment helped spark a full-blown Danish resistance. Interweaving his own narrative with the recollections of Knud himself, The Boys Who Challenged Hitler is National Book Award winner Phillip Hoose’s inspiring story of these young war heroes.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.
This book brings to life the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, who lived through the Civil Rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the movement for gender equality, and whose work forever changed the face of NASA and the country.
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