We can all move mountains. That’s what I learned from Dashrath Manjhi, the hero of my non-fiction picture book, Manjhi Moves a Mountain, now available in contracted braille through the National Braille Press. And that’s what I hope to share with kids.
Who Was Manjhi?
When I first heard Manjhi’s story, it seemed to be too amazing to be true. Manjhi, a laborer who worked in the fields in India, wanted to help the people in his village, who had to make a 34-mile trek around or over a treacherous 300-foot mountain, for the kids to get to school, the sick to get to a doctor, people to get to work or to the markets to buy food and supplies.
But it was true. All Manjhi had in the world were three goats. He traded them for a used hammer and chisel and started chiseling a path through that mountain. People laughed at him over the years, but finally grew to respect and admire his determination and perseverance as he kept working rain and shine, day after day. Finally, 22 years later, there was a path through the mountain. Manjhi is now honored in his village with a statue and all across India with a postage stamp.
Strong in Our Hearts
Manjhi’s story inspires me because it reminds me that we can all be Manjhis. When I present the book to children across the country and the world, in person or by Skype, I ask them if Manjhi was the biggest or the strongest. They shake their heads no. I ask them where Manjhi was strong. We point to our chests together and we say, “in his heart.” I ask them where we can all be strong. They say, “In our hearts.”
We don’t have to be big or strong or rich or famous to make a difference. Like Manjhi, we can all make a positive difference in the world. It just takes a dream and perseverance. That is why at the end of the book, after the story ends, I write about the Move Your Own Mountain project where kids are encouraged to share stories of how they are moving mountains by making a positive difference in the world.
Move Your Own Mountain
I celebrate what they do on my Move Your Own Mountain page on nancychurnin.com. Kids are sharing how they collect food for the hungry, spend time with those who need a friend, cuddle kittens at animal shelters. The projects are as different as they are and all are worthy. Together, we hope to inspire each other and make kindness spread. Visit the Move Your Own Mountain page to learn more.
The book comes with a free Teacher Guide, also available on my website, where kids can learn about India, including words in Hindi and a delicious recipe for roti, the flat bread that Manjhi eats in the book: http://www.nancychurnin.com/manjhi-moves-a-mountain
Manjhi has won many awards: the 2018 South Asia Book Award for grades Pre-K to 4; 2019 Little Free Libraries Action Book Club selection by Children’s Book Council; Junior Library Guild Selection; California Reading Association Eureka Honor Book; Ezra Jack Keats Award Finalist; Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards Finalist; ILA-CBC Children's Choices List; NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Selection 2018.
When I talked to National Braille Press about the book, they let me know that they translate very few books into braille as their resources are limited. Then they read it and told me they wanted to translate it because they love the book and its message. I am overjoyed and grateful to have this book in braille, so it can be made accessible to children and parents who are blind or visually impaired. I look forward to this community participating in the Move Your Own Mountain project and showing kids everywhere the great things the blind and visually impaired can do.
Preview of Book
Get a preview of the book in the video below: Manjhi Moves a Mountain by Nancy Churnin; Illustrated by Danny Popovici.
We hope you'll share your projects and how your students or children are moving mountains too!