The Boy Who Grew A Forest – PPBF and Arbor Day, April 1st

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Title: The True Story of Jadav Payeng The Boy Who Grew a Forest

Author: Sophia Gholz

Illustrator: Kayla Harren

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press, 2019

Ages: 4-8

Themes: deforestation, tree planting, habitats, conservation, India, one man power, caring for earth


The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago.
The second best time to plant a tree is now.


As a boy, Jadav Payeng was distressed by the destruction deforestation and erosion was causing on his island home in India’s Brahmaputra River. So he began planting trees. What began as a small thicket of bamboo, grew over the years into 1,300 acre forest filled with native plants and animals. The Boy Who Grew a Forest tells the inspiring true story of Payeng–and reminds us all of the difference a single person with a big idea can make. 

Why I like this book:

This story of a young conservationist change-maker many years ago is wonderfully inspiring and relevant today. Many boys and adults are worried about deforestation, very few turn compassion and concern into action. One seed, one plant, one tree at a time, he grew a bamboo forest.

I love how the book addresses the inevitable challenges of the return of the bamboo habitat, and how this young man deals with them to care for humans and animals in his beautiful river island home in northern India. facing the threat of the return of different species like tigers and elephants, or the human greed for poaching for financial gain, he finds solutions that work for the entire community. Written in simple lyrical language, the words flow beautifully to tie in with the lush earth-tone art.

This is a beautifully written and illustrated environmental biography that will inspire your children/students.


This is the perfect book to read to your class for National Plant a Tree Day, April 1st. Thoughtful back matter and a plant-a-seed activity encourage further engagement from young readers, which is a perfect finish to this biography.

On the author’s website you can find a terrific teacher’s guide created by Marcie Colleen.

Pair this with The Tree Lady.

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

This entry was posted in Biography, children's books, conservation, Perfect Picture Book Friday and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Boy Who Grew A Forest – PPBF and Arbor Day, April 1st

  1. This a beautiful story which is very relevant today as it was back then. Love the cover Joanna.

  2. Thank you for sharing Jadav Payeng’s inspiring story. I love books that show kids that they too can make a difference. Will check this book out. Perfect share for National Plant a Tree Day.

  3. I love true stories and biographies. The illustrations look amazing! I am going to check this one out! Thanks.

  4. Inspiring! I bet you would also like the docu Mully:

  5. Keila says:

    Thanks for the heads up on this one. And kudos for pairing a diverse book with a one from a group with more representation. You rock!

  6. I’ve been wanting to read this book. Your wonderful review makes me more excited to find it. 🙂

  7. Patricia Nozell says:

    This has been on my to-be-read list. Now I want to read it even more!

  8. This sounds like a wonderful book to read for Earth Day, too – showing how even the smallest thing can grow and grow into a forest. Definitely looking for this book!

  9. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    I’m not sure why, Joanna, but recently I’ve been getting a “post not found” when I follow a link to your blog and then try to comment. Anyway, great review! This book is on my list to read. I’ve also suggested it to the San Francisco Public Library. Congrats to Sophia and a glorious book baby!

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