In India’s Brahmaputra River region, a boy named Jadav Payeng lives on an island threatened by deforestation during each rainy season. Jadav notices the eroding land and the creatures who have died as a result of the flooding. He fears that people will struggle, too, in the depleted environment.
Though he is young and only one person, Jadav shares his concerns with the village elders. They explain to Jadav that the only way to help the animals is to create an environment that will be beneficial for them. To help Jadav begin, the elders give him 20 bamboo saplings.
Jadav plants, waters, and protects the plants. But once the bamboo thicket matures, he worries it isn’t enough to protect the animals. So his work continues, year after year, planting more and more trees. As Jadav grows into manhood, his forest grows with him—in 30 years, the forest encompasses 1,300 acres of land, and numerous animals inhabit it.
Based on the true story of Jadav Payeng, this children’s picture book commends the vision, hard work, and perseverance of a boy\man who believed that “only by growing plants, the Earth will survive.” Kayla Harren’s illustrations capture the beauty of the verdant forest and the splendor of its inhabitants. The Boy Who Grew a Forest is a celebration of God’s good creation and a faithful response to care for it. (Sleeping Bear Press)