The Water Princess written by Susan Verde and Georgie Badiel and illustrated by Peter H Reynolds is a thoughtful, poetic and beautiful book about the efforts of a young girl named Princess Gie Gie. This book is written and illustrated based on the childhood experience of Georgie Badiel. As a young girl, Georgie Badiel would have to walk for miles to get water in the village of Koffi Kro. After working in the modeling industry for many years, she went back home to visit her sister who was nine month pregnant. They both had the wake up every morning between 3am and 4am to go get water. This broke up Georgie’s heart and from that day on she decided to make a change. To learn more about Georgie Badiel Foundation, click here.
The main character, Princess Gie Gie is a unique and mindful character who engages in song and dance to express her longing for clean water closer to her home. Every day, Gie Gie must leave early each morning from her home to collect the water from a well many miles away. She explains her thirst as she walks miles and miles with her mother while expressing her frustration and longing through song and dance. At the same time, she enjoys this time with her maman and they “twirl and laugh together. The miles give us room to dance”. When they reach the well, they congregate with their friends and fellow neighbors and collect the water to bring back to Gie Gie’s father. They use this water for drinking, preparing food and washing their clothes. As Gie Gie drinks the water, she expresses “Every sip fills me with energy”. At the end of the story, she asks her maman, “Why is the water so far?”, “Why is the water not clear”, “Where is our water?” Her mother reassures her that someday she will find a way.
The Water Princess is a inspirational book that can be excellent for repeated readings. To learn more about the benefits of repeated readings, click here. The Water Princess story should be a required read for all children because it can help them to be mindful of the struggles that other children go through to get the most simple need such as water. Since water is something we are used to having available all the time with no effort, we tend to not appreciate it. Learning about Gie Gie’s story can help a child be mindful and appreciative about the simple things that we take for granted on a regular basis. This can also help a child learn about other cultures and perspectives.
Bring up these discussion questions when reading this book:
- Why do we need water?
- What would happen if you drank dirty water?
- Why do you think these children need to travel so far for water?
- What happens if the children and their families can’t get water?
- How do you think Gie Gie feels about traveling so far each day for water?
- What do you think is Gie’s Gie’s wish?
- Compare your day with Gie Gie’s day. How is your day different?
- Does Gie Gie have time to play? Why or why not?
- Is Gie Gie happy in the story? Why or why not?
- Do you think Gie Gie gets to attend school on daily basis? If not, please explain why.
At the end of the book, there is an informational section with photographs about the girls and women of Goundi in the village in Burkina Faso who take long walks to collect water from the well. The photographs show the women and children collecting the water (that still needs further cleaning), walking with it back to their village which is far away and others celebrating with their new well that was recently built in their village by the Georgie Badiel Foundation.
Are you a teacher and interested in getting your students to help? Check out this School Challenge here. To access lesson plans about clean water and the water crisis, click here. For additional resources about clean water and other related topics for the classroom, click here.