The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Book - 2012
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"When 14-year-old William Kamkwamba's Malawi village was hit by a drought in 2001, everyone's crops began to fail. His family didn't have enough money for food, let alone school, so William spent his days in the library. He came across a book on windmills and figured out how to build a windmill that could bring electricity to his village. Everyone thought he was crazy but William persevered and managed to create a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps. Several years later he figured out how to use the windmill for irrigation purposes"--
Published: New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012.
ISBN: 9780803735118
Branch Call Number: E621.453 KAM
Characteristics: 1 v. (unpaged) :,col. ill. ;,29 cm.


From Library Staff

The curious mind of this William Kwmkwamba was denied an education at a proper school but he had access to a library and it eventually benefited his entire community.

“I went to sleep dreaming of Malawi, and all the things made possible when your dreams are powered by your heart.”

DBRL_IdaF Feb 10, 2020

When William Kamkwamba was a young teen, famine struck his country of Malawi. His father, a farmer, did not have enough money to pay his school fees. Even as his family, and entire community, faced near starvation, William was determined to pursue what education he could. He frequented the small ... Read More »

List - Feel Good Non-Fiction
DBRL_IdaF Sep 04, 2018

I know a teenager who called this the most inspiring book he's ever read.

From the critics

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Aug 03, 2020

This is a great book. I've read it three times. I highly recommend it.

DBRL_IdaF Feb 10, 2020

When William Kamkwamba was a young teen, famine struck his country of Malawi. His father, a farmer, did not have enough money to pay his school fees. Even as his family, and entire community, faced near starvation, William was determined to pursue what education he could. He frequented the small local library, finding a special fascination with books on science and technology.

He'd always been prone to tinkering, so the aptitude was already in place. With the help of library books, generous friends, and several episode of junk yard scavenging, he was able to build a small windmill to supply electricity to his family home, the first step in a chain of events that would lead him down new paths and benefit his entire village.

Jul 16, 2019

This true story book inspired my heart. William Kamkwamba Was a courageous and never gave up. When him and his family was facing starvation and problems with their farm, he had an idea to make a wind mill that would bring water. When I was reading this book, it made me feel sad. This was because William tried to build a wind mill but needed a part from a bike. William asked his dad if he could borrow a piece of he’s bike, but William’s dad rejected and told him that it was useless. I liked the part when William’s wind mill was a success and he saved his family and other people in the land. I also watched the movie, but it was slightly different from the book. Overall, this book was amazing and I recommend this to people who like true stories and inspiring books.

Jun 13, 2019

This book is a true story of the author, William Kamkwamba, who grew up in a tiny village in Malawi, Africa, with no power or running water. When a terrible famine strikes his village, and his dog dies and cousin almost dies as well, he drops out of school and decides to build a windmill to power his village. During regular trips to the junkyard, the townsfolk call him insane, but when the giant machine rises into the sky and turns wind into electricity, they think otherwise.

What I liked about this book is the idea of a windmill, which is so far off, and then actually doing it! Though I think there is too much description on the machinery he uses, this is a great book. I also think it would make a great graphic novel because of all the different settings and pictures that I would love to see!

Simon S. , age 10

IndyPL_SteveB Nov 26, 2018

This is the inspiring true story of a young man from a tiny village in the African country of Malawi. Grinding poverty, drought, and a culture which placed superstition far above science made schooling impossible and starvation likely; but at the age of 14, William discovers a science book in a tiny library of USA-donated books. It tells about windmills. Over the next several weeks he figures out how to build a windmill from an old bicycle, an electric truck fan, and PVC pipe. He uses this to provide electricity for his family's home. His next, larger windmill provides enough water to allow his family to irrigate crops and have two harvests a year. He becomes famous and gets a scholarship to high school. Along the way, he transforms his village and provides hope to other young people in Malawi.

You won’t find a better story about someone making something out of almost nothing.

Oct 17, 2018

This edition is the one that was especially written for young readers. What I loved about this simpler edition was the special message Kamkwamba had for younsters in his epilogue as well as the additional details about his life and his projects since he wrote his first book in 2009. The simpler scientific explanations were also more appealing to me. It is also clear that William realizes his dependence on his heavenly Father and more than once speaks of his gratitude for the blessings he and his family now enjoy. A wonderful book for both boys and girls.

Oct 12, 2018

William Kamkwamba has faced so many more hardships in his life than we can even imagine, yet has overcome and conquered. His dream of bringing electricity to his family's home was realized when he was just a teenager and was unable to go to school due to financial difficulties. He used a local library to learn about science and figured out how to use junk from around their farm and in the city junkyard to build a windmill and light a small light bulb. Through God's providence word spread of his achievement and he was invited to apply to be a part of a TED conference in Tanzania. From then on his life and the life of his family and friends improves dramatically. The book drags a bit in providing too much detail for this nonengineer. Looking forward to seeing Kamkwamba speak at Avila later this month.

KyCCL Sep 29, 2018

Has there ever been a time when you thought ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘this is too hard’? I bet there has. But you know what? Each time you keep trying at something, you’re getting better at it, and closer to succeeding.
William lived in a little village in Malawi, was too poor to go to school, and was really hungry from getting no food because there was a famine. But he had a dream - wanted to bring electricity to his people - and by usibg his library, teaching himself, and not listening to the negative comments of those who laughed at him, he did what he set out to do.
This was a great book, and I’m interested to listen to the full version now to learn even more about this talented young man.

Apr 23, 2018

Great story that shows that you don't have to be the smart kid to do something big. This story proves that ordinary people can make a huge difference.

Dec 16, 2017

What an amazing person.

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orange_dolphin_185 May 27, 2014

orange_dolphin_185 thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

violet_butterfly_4094 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Mar 31, 2011

imaginethat thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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Aug 25, 2014

"Using a flathead screwdriver we'd hammered out of a bicycle spoke. . . ."

"'Where did you get such an idea?' 'The library.'"

"Really, how can you drive a truck and not know how it works?"

orange_dolphin_185 May 27, 2014

He closed his eyes and saw a windmill outside his home pulling electricity from the breeze and bringing light to the dark valley


Add a Summary
orange_dolphin_185 May 27, 2014

This is about a boy even though he was poor and because of problems with crops did not even have food to eat ,he used his mind to create something which would help his entire village .With his invention he was trying to bring light to the village with light they were able to work later so their families would be provided for.


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