Books for Mature Teens and Adults

Theme: Giving to Make a Difference

Finding Calcutta - (ISBN: 978-0830834723)

by Mary Poplin

This book tells more than the story of modern-day saint, Mother Teresa. Stirred to action by a remote curiosity, Poplin, an academic, volunteers to work beside the Missionaries of Charity. The result, however, is a deep involvement with Mother Teresa’s connection to a power beyond human understanding. Poplin shows readers that your personal Calcutta can be wherever you chose to invest your time, love, and spirit to help others, whether it be the classroom, the medical facility, or the orphanage.

Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil - (ISBN: 978-0812976731)

by Deborah Rodriquez Kristin Ohlson

Rodriguez’ volunteer stint in Afghanistan turns into a mission when she realizes that the Afghan women long to take advantage of her beautician’s training. Eventually, she canvasses enough U.S. distributors to donate supplies to open a beauty school in Kabul. There the Afghan women learn to beautify themselves, to have their own businesses, and to gain self-respect and independence. The charm of her book is the stories of the individual women she befriends and trains as hairdressers and entrepreneurs. What talents might you be able to teach others?

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal - (ISBN: 978-0061930058)

by Conor Grennan

Grennan begins his stay in Nepal as a short-term volunteer in a school for orphans. He finds out that they had been sold by their families under false pretenses. Gradually, his focus changes to reuniting the families, stopping the black marketing of children, and opening more homes for real orphans or temporarily displaced youth. His ultimate motivation in his difficult work is love for the children whom he must gradually give up as more and more families reunite.

Small Loans, Big Dreams: How Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and Microfinance Are Changing the World - (ISBN: 978-0470196328)

by Alex Counts

Muhammad Yunus, founder of the philanthropic Grameen Bank and engineer of the concept of microfinance, provides loans to humble people for small business ventures. Rather than pouring money into impoverished areas, Yunus provides for the development of independence and self-support with his innovative action concept. Beginning in Bangladesh, Yunus applies his principles across the globe, even in the U.S. His awareness of the principles of finance, respect for the needs of each specific culture in his negotiations of assistance, and his refusal to canvass the rich for help makes for fascinating reading. Think of small but successful businesses in your community. How did they succeed?

The King's Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy - (ISBN: 978-1402786761)

by Mark Logue

When the British King George and his wife secretly contact Lionel Logue for help with the king’s serious speech impediment, Logue’s offbeat approach disarms the dignified but traumatized monarch. The methods espoused by Logue prove to be so successful that King George’s wartime pep talks hold the British Empire together during that major crisis, despite his severe stutter. If you enjoyed the popular movie, you can learn more from this book written by one of Logue’s descendants.

Power and Struggle: The Politics of Nonviolent Action - (ISBN: 978-0875580708)

by Gene Sharp

Reading Lolita in Tehran - (ISBN: 978-0812979305)

by Azar Nafisi

The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook - (ISBN: 978-0307740984)

by Ben Mezrich

Activities for this Theme

Volunteer to teach community members something you are an expert at. Offer a class at a local library or the continuing education program at the local technical college. Team up with others to enjoy the sharing together.


Sign your family up for a working vacation, helping a group such as Habitat for Humanity.


Learn about ways to give back through volunteerism