Children often feel powerless. Can reading about one person’s dedication to an idea turned into action empower young people?
I think the approach of Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg & Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and Susan Roth (who also illustrated the book; published by Dial) does that and more.
It makes the amazing story of Greg Mortenson, adventurer turned humanitarian, come to life for young children through a child-friendly, engaging text and arresting, lush, colorful, and highly textured illustrations. In an artist’s note, Roth explains how she came to create the collages used in the book.
The addition of photographs in Roth’s note as well as actual photographs of Mortenson and the children of Korphe, the Pakistani village where “Dr. Greg” built the first school, adds powerful insight in an understated way.
Roth also talks about the resourcefulness of the people in Balistan; how materials are reused in unexpected ways. This had an impact on the artist which is reflected in the work. One commanding story begets others it seems.
The book also reminds readers young and old of the power of education; why else would children practice writing with sticks on the ground?
There’s power in books — and children. Just listen to the wind.