This story is for children in kindergarten through 3rd grade.  Before reading it, look for pictures of a shantytown. The National Geographic website may be helpful. “The Wonderful Window” takes place in South Africa. Explain to the listeners that there are many nice houses in South Africa as well, and there are shantytowns in other places in the world too.

The little boy named Mtembo walked on the sandy path from school. He was on his way home. Home was not a house. Home was not an apartment. It was not even a tent. Home was a shanty.

Mtembo’s family was the poorest of the poor people in his town. To have a place to live, they built one out of anything they could find. Houses like these are called “shanties.” Mtembo’s shanty was made with some old boards, Most were brown, some were black and one was green.

It was also made with big pieces of cardboard left over from boxes.

A few sheets of metal were laid on the top for a roof. An old tire on top of the metal kept the roof from blowing off in a big wind.

Large sheets of plastic were put up where there were big holes in the cardboard walls. They helped keep out the wind and rain.

The shanty had no door, no floor but the ground, and no windows.

It had no heat, no electricity, and no water.

Mtembo walked past the other shanties and the garbage strewn on the ground. When he saw his shanty, he shouted, “Hooray!”

His father had taken a piece of cardboard out of a wall. He used it to make a sort of door. In its place, he had put in a window! He must have found it in a dump!

A window! Now they would have sunshine coming into the shanty! He could look out and see his friends! Maybe his mother would grow a plant in the window!

Mtembo ran to his father and hugged him. His father smiled down at him and said, “Everyone needs some sunshine!”

Discussion suggestions:

How many windows do you have in your house?

What would it be like to have only one?

What does your home that Mtembo’s home does not?

Does Mtembo have what he needs?