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The Bite of the Mango, Mariatu Kamara with Susan McClelland

Mariatu Kamara led a carefree childhood growing up in a small rural village in Sierra Leone, until the fateful day she was sent to fetch food from a nearby village. Once there, armed rebels – many no older than 12-year-old Mariatu herself – attacked. Among other horrors that occurred that day, the young rebels brutally cut off Mariatu’s hands. Miraculously, Mariatu survived to begin an unimaginable journey that took her from the African bush to begging in the streets of Freetown, and ultimately to a new life in North America.

In The Bite of the Mango Mariatu shares her unforgettable story of immense courage, resilience, and hope.

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to Asha. But in a culture that favours sons, the only way for Kavita to save her newborn daughter’s life is to give her away. It is a decision that will haunt her and her husband for the rest of their lives, even after the arrival of their cherished son. Halfway around the globe, Somer, an American doctor, decides to adopt a child after making the wrenching discovery that she will never have one of her own. When she and her husband Krishnan see a photo of baby Asha from a Mumbai orphanage, they are overwhelmed with emotion for her. Somer knows life will change with the adoption, but is convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles. Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and Asha, “Secret Daughter” poignantly explores issues of culture and belonging. Moving between two worlds and two families, one struggling to survive in the fetid slums of Mumbai, the other grappling to forge a cohesive family despite their diverging cultural identities, this powerful debut novel marks the arrival of a fresh talent poised for great success.

Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur by Halima Bashir

The first eye-witness memoir of Darfur, written by a Sudanese doctor–a wrenching, heroic story unlike any you’ve read before. Tears of the Desert is Halima’s tale, told in her own words and framed by her love for her new son. It is a wrenching portrait of a young girl’s innocence lost, of a family and a people destroyed, of the endemic discrimination against black African Sudanese by their Arab compatriots, and of the senseless violence that erupted and continues unabated today. It is Dr. Bashir’s belief that these words should be shared with readers so that the world will know about the conflict in Darfur and about the horrific violence that is occurring between fellow Muslims. This is Halima Bashir’s story, but it is also the story of a nation that is ripping itself to pieces.

And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts

By the time Rock Hudson’s death in 1985 alerted all America to the danger of the AIDS epidemic, the disease had spread across the nation, killing thousands of people and emerging as the greatest health crisis of the 20th century. America faced a troubling question: What happened? How was this epidemic allowed to spread so far before it was taken seriously? In answering these questions, Shilts weaves the disparate threads into a coherent story, pinning down every evasion and contradiction at the highest levels of the medical, political, and media establishments.

Shilts shows that the epidemic spread wildly because the federal government put budget ahead of the nation’s welfare; health authorities placed political expediency before the public health; and scientists were often more concerned with international prestige than saving lives. Against this backdrop, Shilts tells the heroic stories of individuals in science and politics, public health and the gay community, who struggled to alert the nation to the enormity of the danger it faced. And the Band Played On is both a tribute to these heroic people and a stinging indictment of the institutions that failed the nation so badly.

(from goodreads.com)

Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, Abhijit Bennerjee

Billions of government dollars, and thousands of charitable organizations and NGOs, are dedicated to helping the world’s poor. But much of their work is based on assumptions that are untested generalizations at best, harmful misperceptions at worst.

Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo have pioneered the use of randomized control trials in development economics. Work based on these principles, supervised by the Poverty Action Lab, is being carried out in dozens of countries. Drawing on this and their 15 years of research from Chile to India, Kenya to Indonesia, they have identified wholly new aspects of the behavior of poor people, their needs, and the way that aid or financial investment can affect their lives. Their work defies certain presumptions: that microfinance is a cure-all, that schooling equals learning, that poverty at the level of 99 cents a day is just a more extreme version of the experience any of us have when our income falls uncomfortably low.

This important book illuminates how the poor live, and offers all of us an opportunity to think of a world beyond poverty.
Learn more at www.pooreconomics.com

High-Impact, Low-Carbon Gardening: 1001 Ways Garden Sustainably by Alice Bowe

The environmental benefits of gardens are well-known: trees and plants capture carbon emissions, help to moderate the urban climate, promote health and well being, and help reduce energy consumption. But some garden practices are downright damaging, like using leaf blowers and other power tools, installing impermeable paving, and choosing plants that require excessive water or artificial fertilizers.

High-Impact, Low-Carbon Gardening is a one-stop reference for making a garden more green. From simple actions like composting household waste, installing a water barrel, or eliminating pesticides to more long-term investments like choosing permeable, locally sourced paving, and planting the most water-wise plants, there are hundreds of large and small choices home gardeners can make to reduce the environmental impact of designing, planting, and tending a garden.

High-Impact, Low-Carbon Gardening goes beyond organics and compost and gives serious gardeners all the information they need to make their garden truly green.

Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs, Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus, the practical visionary who pioneered microcredit and, with his Grameen Bank, won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, has developed a new dimension for capitalism which he calls “social business.” The social business model has been adopted by corporations, entrepreneurs, and social activists across the globe. Its goal is to create self-supporting, viable commercial enterprises that generate economic growth as they produce goods and services to fulfill human needs. In Building Social Business, Yunus shows how social business can be put into practice and explains why it holds the potential to redeem the failed promise of free-market enterprise.

The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good by William Easterly

No one who attacks the humanitarian aid establishment is going to win any popularity contests, but, neither, it seems, is that establishment winning any contests with the people it is supposed to be helping. Easterly, an NYU economics professor and a former research economist at the World Bank, brazenly contends that the West has failed, and continues to fail, to enact its ill-formed, utopian aid plans because, like the colonialists of old, it assumes it knows what is best for everyone. Existing aid strategies, Easterly argues, provide neither accountability nor feedback. Without accountability for failures, he says, broken economic systems are never fixed. And without feedback from the poor who need the aid, no one in charge really understands exactly what trouble spots need fixing. True victories against poverty, he demonstrates, are most often achieved through indigenous, ground-level planning. Except in its early chapters, where Easterly builds his strategic platform atop a tower of statistical analyses, the book’s wry, cynical prose is highly accessible. Readers will come away with a clear sense of how orthodox methods of poverty reduction do not help, and can sometimes worsen, poor economies. (Reed Business Information, 2006).