Thursday, February 4, 2016

Learning from Picture Books - HOPE SPRINGS

I didn’t know what to expect from the title of this book, but was immediately drawn in by the story.  This is a wonderful story of kindness and community – a great classroom read for all elementary grades.

Summary from

A drought has settled in the area around the orphanage where Boniface lives. There are long line-ups at the tiny spring where all the local people get their water, and suddenly the orphans are pushed to the back of the line, unwelcome. Boniface's houseparent, Henry, tells him that the people were mean out of fear--they feared there would not be enough water for their families. When the building of the orphanage's well is completed, Boniface has an idea to help the villagers.

A lovely story of kindness and heart, this story shows that, through compassion and understanding, true generosity can spring from unexpected places.

Hope Springs was written by Eric Walters and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes. It was published by Tundra Books in 2014.

My Thoughts as a Writer:

This longer picture book opens with a playful introduction to the children at the orphanage to hook the reader in and introduce the characters, even though the problem of not enough water is a serious one. This really began to create a lot of emotion and feelings for the characters, because of the weighty problems and realities of life they need to face.

The illustrator uses realistic, earthy tones that clear showing the details of the story and add to the emotional impact through the character’s gestures and expressions.  

My Thoughts as a Teacher:

This is an important book to read to elementary students. Along with showing the realities of life in Kenya, the scarcity of water and how kids can help, it also shows how kids can take action to be kind and change their situation. 

I enjoyed reading the facts about the water and Eric Walter’s role in helping to bring water to the orphanage and village. This book could provoke a lot of discussion and would be great to pair with other books that show more about the water cycle, e.g., Water Is Water by Miranda Paul or about life in other places.

Themes: community, kindness, drought, life in Africa, water shortages

Ages: 6 – 10

Grades: Grades 1 to 5

Follow-Up Activities:
  • Talk about what your life would be like if there was a water shortage…would North American life be different? What would change?
  • Create a 3-D model to show one of the scenes in the story
  • Research your own “kindness” project and make a list of things you could do to raise money to help
  • Research the author and find out more about his organization The Creation of Hope

1 comment:

  1. I have read very few picture books (any?) about orphanages so this is welcome. Having lived through a drought in Malawi, I can also relate a little to the situation. Great find.


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