Only the Mountains Do Not Move
Written and photographed by Jan Reynolds
What is it like to grow up in a culture that is radically different than your own? Children are fascinated by other ways of life, and introducing them to books and other representations of different cultures at a young age is a vital way to broaden their worldview and make them more accepting of other ways of life.
In Only the Mountains Do Not Move, author and photographer Jan Reynolds provides a vivid glimpse in the culture of the Maasai tribe of East Africa. Reynolds introduces readers to several members of the tribe and describes what their typical days are like. The Maasai are nomads whose life revolves around grazing cattle. However, as the amount of grazing land shrinks and the landscape becomes more barren, these people have been forced to change their way of life in order to survive. Reynolds looks not only at the people of the Maasai and their lives, but also at how their environment is changing and how they are also changing in order to keep their traditions alive.
I think Only the Mountains Do Not Move is a good choice for a fourth grade library. Although the reading level is likely to be above the average fourth grade student, the topic is fascinating and the photos are eye-catching. These elements make this a great book for a classroom read aloud. Reynolds does a wonderful job of bringing the Maasai people to life and showing the value of their culture. The book is sprinkled with Maasai proverbs, which could lead to an interesting classroom project or creative reading worksheets. A glossary, pronunciation guide, and source notes add to the value of the book. There is even a link to a website where students can connect with Maasai children and help build schools for them! Although the comprehension level of this book is advanced for fourth graders, the beautiful presentation, excellent writing, and appealing message make it a great addition to a classroom library.