As Sally Ride and Marian Wright Edelman both powerfully said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” When Sally Ride said that, she meant that it was hard to dream of being an astronaut, like she was, or a doctor or an athlete or anything at all if you didn’t see someone like you who already had lived that dream. She especially was talking about seeing women in jobs that historically were held by men.
I wrote the first She Persisted
and the books that came after it because I wanted young girls—and children of all genders—to see women who worked hard to live their dreams. And I wanted all of us to see examples of persistence in the face of different challenges to help inspire us in our own lives.
I’m so thrilled now to partner with a sisterhood of writers to bring longer, more in-depth versions of these stories of women’s persistence and achievement to readers. I hope you enjoy these chapter books as much as I do and find them inspiring and empowering.
And remember: If anyone ever tells you no, if anyone ever says your voice isn’t important or your dreams are too big, remember these women. They persisted and so should you.
Warmly,Chelsea ClintonTABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1: Born to the Land
Chapter 2: Glorified Slaves
Chapter 3: Growing Minds Like Trees
Chapter 4: Trees to the Rescue
Chapter 5: Tree Battles
Chapter 6: Growing Trees to Victory
How You Can Persist
Born to the Land
When Mount Kenya’s snow-capped peak was covered with a blanket of clouds, the people knew the rains were coming. The rains that filled the rivers and streams. The rains that gave life. One very special life came into being during that season. Wangari Maathai was born on April 1, 1940, during the rainy period. Her childhood was woven through with the flowing rivers and streams, and the animals and people of her bountiful country.
As soon as Wangari was born, everyone sprang into action! The women formed a circle of loving care around mother and baby. They made a nourishing meal from the choicest vegetables in their gardens. Even before offering her baby milk, Wangari’s mother chewed small bites of roasted bananas, sugarcane, and sweet potatoes into a smooth juice. She put the juice into her baby’s tiny mouth, sharing the strength of the land and their community.
Wangari was born in a small village in Kenya called Nyeri, a part of the country with lush green shrubs, ferns, and trees. There the rain fell on the nearby fields of blue-purple sugarcane, on the forested hillsides where animals like elephants, leopards, antelopes, and monkeys made their home, and on the grass-thatched roof of the separate hut where Wangari’s father prepared another feast to celebrate the birth of their first daughter. The same rain that caused everything to grow seemed to welcome baby Wangari into her new world. That same rain would help provide food for herto grow like a strong tree, and bringing back the trees would be her reason to fight to heal the land.
Copyright © 2022 by Chelsea Clinton. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.