Empowering Ourselves, Empowering Others

Read Feed

Empowering Ourselves, Empowering Others

A "Build a Better World" Reading List

Summer is around the corner, and with it comes fun in the sun and the Library's 2017 Summer Reading Program, Build a Better World. All ages are invited to enjoy programs and, of course, the Library's wide selection of books, ebooks, and audiobooks. Below is a list of books for nearly every age with a message about the power of the individual to make a difference in the world.

Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus; illustrated by Evan Turk
Arun and his family return to grandfather Gandhi's ashram, or service village. The family serves the ashram, along with more than 300 others, and follows its 11 vows.  There is one vow Arun struggles with even after a year of living in the ashram - the vow not to waste.  After throwing away a pencil nub, his grandfather shows him how this act is a violent one that carries repercussions. Evan Turk's rich and vibrant collage gives visual impact to the Mahatma's lessons for his grandson about the passive and active acts of violence that lead to wars.  With this thoughtful picture book, Arun offers in his own words an accessible but powerful message: "To change the world, I needed to change myself".

Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia, written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter
Luis loves to read and fills his small house with books. Luis's wife wants a clear-out of the books, so Luis buys two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, builds book crates that one donkey will carry, and travels to the remote Colombian hills to share his books with those who have little or no access to them. On a journey to El Tormento, one of the donkeys refuses to go any further. Later, a bandit demands silver but takes a book instead. Winter conveys the vastness of Luis's travels as the scenery changes from rainforest, to grassland, to hills. A clever nod to a well-known story about pigs illustrates the universality of storytelling and sharing books. The gentle narrative reveals another universality: anyone can make a difference.

Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell: illustrated by Rafael López.
Mira loves to create art. One day she gives her paintings to neighborhood friends but posts the last one on a drab wall.  The next day Mira finds an artist admiring her bold and multicolored sun painting. The muralist sees that "maybe...something beautiful" can be made on the wall. The mural the two paint together - Mira contributing the vibrant color - attracts neighbors. Soon everyone joins in. Painting the gray buildings becomes a party. Based on two artists who created the Urban Art Trail in the East Village neighborhood of San Diego, California, the story shows how a community can work together to transform itself.

Illustrator Rafael López is also the inspiration for the story.  He and his wife and fellow artist, Candice, gathered community members of all ages and backgrounds one day and began a movement.  Photographs of the real murals and López's digital art enhance Campoy's narrative, making for a fresh and joyous read.

Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz; illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl
Beginning with Angela Davis and ending with Zora Neal Hurston, each brief, engaging entry highlights what made each woman such a standout. The diverse selection includes some of those who opened the way for others, like Bessie Coleman, Carol Burnett and Billie Jean King, and those whose work impacts daily lives, like Virginia Apgar of the Apgar score for newborns and Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers Association. Stahl even provides an entry for the unnamed heroes who transform, protect and build a better world. Discover or revisit more stories with Schatz's Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History.

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick
In this Young Readers edition of her best-selling book I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, Malala tells of her upbringing in Pakistan's idyllic Swat Valley and how everything changed in 2007 when the Taliban began destroying schools.  As the daughter of an activist who defied the Taliban by running schools where girls were accepted, Malala was inspired to stay strong despite fears her family would be harmed. In 2009, Malala wrote an English language blog for BBC Urdu about life under Taliban control.  Television interviews soon followed along with speaking engagements and awards for public service.  On October 9, 2012, Taliban militants boarded a school van and shot Malala along with two other girls. Girls following her health status at a Birmingham, England hospital began holding up signs reading, "I Am Malala". Written with children's/teen author, Patricia McCormick, I Am Malala, this first-person account written when the author was 16, will inspire discussion. The quote from Malala, "One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world" may inspire action.

The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them by The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell; foreword by Zlata Filipovic.
305.235 F853A2
A young English teacher struggles to get through to her "at risk" students who don't read or write or feel they owe her respect. Many of the students have witnessed violence, been abused, and struggle with day to day life in what some could see as a war zone. A racist caricature of a fellow student gets passed around and the teacher finds a narrative she can compare to her student's. She tells them that the Nazi's also used caricatures that fostered ill-will toward Jews and that they became a gang so big they took over countries, killing millions. The students are asked to keep a journal using Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl and Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Sarajevo as a guide. Their stories are provided here along with their teacher, Erin Gruwell's, commentary on the school progress, their travels and the people they got to meet, including Miep Gies, who was instrumental in keeping Anne Frank's family and their housemates hid during the Holocaust. All 150 of Gruwell's English students at Woodrow Wilson High School graduated. Their courage to change themselves and each other and their teacher's ability to take their experiences and personalize her approach to instruction are an example of how personal and professional growth can improve lives. 

Life Without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life by Nick Vujicic
Audiobook, Overdrive
Nick Vujicic's love of life comes through in this audio version of the motivational speaker's best-selling book. Born without limbs, Vujicic struggled with depression, but as a teen began to see how his Christian faith and positive thinking would inform his life. Vujicic became a motivational speaker and at 19, began traveling the world, on one trip giving most of his personal savings to charity. In 2010, he wrote Unstoppable: The Incredible Power of Faith in Action, detailing his life's work.  Life Without Limits continues Vujicic's story with more anecdotes from his childhood, his travels, and from the people who've witnessed his speeches in person or on Youtube. Part self-help book, part memoir, each chapter punctuates why positive thinking works. His edicts in the chapter "Ridiculous Rules" are a great summary of a life philosophy that has touched many.

Aaron Henry of Mississippi: Inside Agitator by Minion K. C. Morrison
92 H521M
Aaron Edd Henry (1922-1997) was born and raised in Dublin, Mississippi during a time of entrenched racialized discrimination, but was instilled with the belief that he was the equal of anyone.  Following enlistment in the Army during World War II, Henry attended Xavier University, obtained a degree in pharmacology and opened a pharmacy with a classmate in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  As a business owner, Henry was soon drawn into local activism.  He joined the NAACP, became its state chapter president for much of the remainder of his life, helped coordinate the activities of several civil rights organizations, cofounded and ran for U.S. Congress under the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, and became a Mississippi State Representative. Morrison gives an in-depth look at Henry's speaking style, how he won support, crossed color lines, and influenced or made possible the successes of the Civil Rights Movement.  This glimpse of the Civil Rights Movement from the grassroots level is a great example of how individuals made positive change.

On the Pulse of Morning by Maya Angelou
811 A584ON
Dr. Angelou delivered this poem in front of millions from the steps of the U.S. Capitol for the first inauguration of William Jefferson Clinton on January 20, 1993. The poem begins with the story of the rock, followed by the river and last the tree, each in turn giving a message to mankind.  The rock will have humanity come out of the shadows of ignorance, the river wants an end to fighting and wars, the tree has seen too much cynicism.  In the end, each American is asked to begin the day or era with a simple and hopeful message to one another. Drawing inspiration from the gospel hymn "I Ain't Gonna Study War No More", this best-selling print edition of the poem is almost as powerful in print as when it was delivered more than 20 years ago.