Just in time for Thanksgiving, I give you…a book about a famine! You know, just to make you feel a little extra thankful this year.

Meet William Kamkwamba , probably one of the coolest people you’ll ever hear about. In his book The boy who harnessed the wind, he talks about growing up in Malawi during a famine and building a windmill to bring electricity to his family’s rural home at the age of 14 (14, you guys).

This is an awesome book for anyone interested in science, or ingenuity, or just a feel-good (true) story of someone overcoming (a lot) of difficult circumstances.

So basically, our young hero is just a kid, the son of a farming family, who enjoys going to school and hanging out with friends. Then suddenly, a famine strikes. His descriptions of the famine are pretty terrifying, guys. He talks about watching his friends and family slowly shrivel up into skeletons, then watching their limbs swell from starvation. His sisters get into fistfights at dinner because there’s not enough food, and people wandered the countryside looking for day work for food.

His family barely survives – but they survive. Their relief can be summed up by the family’s gratitude at the next harvest:
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But then, there’s only enough money left to feed the family and buy more seed for next year – and not enough to send William back to school. So what does he do? He goes to the library! Duh!

So he goes the library, finds a few books on sciencey things, and gets an idea to build himself a windmill so that his family’s house can have electricity. AND IT WORKS. He builds a windmill, which manages to generate enough electricity to power a few lightbulbs around their house, which is enough that his family can stay up late and work on other projects – like reading or sewing. Keep in mind – he was 14 years old when he built a working windmill that generated enough electricity to power his house. 14.

Eventually, William gets discovered by TEDGlobal, and the rest is history. You can follow his other adventures on his blog.

What have you read from Malawi?

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