Monday, July 16, 2012

Energy island : how one community harnessed the wind and changed their world

Looking for a fresh book to read for Earth Day? Need a text to teach Persuation? I have a great suggestion: Energy Island : how one community harnessed the wind and changed their world; by Allan Drummond. This is a non-fiction book I absolutely love because it "kills two birds with one stone". The first bird is that it deals with very relevant environmental issues. In addition, it tells the story of a teacher: Søren Hermansen and the process of persuading. 

Energy Island is an amazing story told by children for children about a life changing lesson. Their teacher asked his students what can they do different to better use their natural resources. The children came up with several good ideas. This unraveled a process where Mr. Hermansen, the teacher, talked to different members of their community and told them his idea. The members of the community answered their concerns. Some believed they could change. Most of the people didn't. Eventually, the benefits the changes and innovation of the few, made the many think this through. Now, Samsø is known internationally for their Energy Academy and all the fruits it has bore not only in Denmark, but throughout the world.  

The exchange of ideas presented in the text, is an excellent example about how persuasion works. One page shows the teacher bringing up an idea and listening to the objections of his audience. A few pages later, he comes up with arguments that defend his position and hopefully persuades his interlocutors. The subject of course, is the environment!

I used this book for the first time early Spring this year with my groups from 2nd to 5th grade in Intermediate and Early Advanced levels. It was very successful to help me introduce a new function: Persuading. Simultaneously, tapping into the students' schema. The illustrations work wonderfully and the subject is presented in  simple manner for the ELL students to be able to focus and don't get confused. Both elements; the environment and persuasion are very well outlined and isolated in the text. 

In addition, I am including a youtube link where Søren Hermansen  himself talks about his project and his homeland. The title of the video is: Samsø: Energy Academy. 


  1. I also teach ESL for High school students. I learned early on that it doesn't matter the age of the student, picture books are an awesome way to make language learning vibrant and vidid.

    1. You are right. I am one example of a learner who love picture books! Even though some upper elementary grade students may call them "little kids' books", they still enjoy reading them. As an adult I do enjoy checking out books just to see the vision different illustrators have from a story. Not too long ago, I checked a couple of "The Wind in the Willow" versions just so I could compare the way they imagined the river and the different characters. Thanks so much for your comment.

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