Inspirational Books with Advocate Authors
Book lovers or activists on the search for an inspirational read should find interest in this book list. From stories of equal access to education to serving the world’s poor, here is a list of five inspirational books with advocate authors.

5 Inspirational Books with Advocate Authors

  1. “I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban” by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb: Growing up in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai faced barriers as a woman. Malala loved school, but her life changed when the Taliban took over her town. It banned girls from attending school when she was 11 years old. After speaking out on behalf of girls’ right to an education, a masked gunman shot Malala while on her bus ride home from school. Miraculously, she survived and became an advocate for girls everywhere, sharing her story in her book “I am Malala.” She once said, “I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is the story of many girls.”
  2. “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela: Regarded as an international hero for his fight against racial oppression in South Africa, Mandela went on to tell his story in this inspirational autobiography. Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist and was also the leader of the African National Congress’ armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, before his presidency in South Africa from 1994-1999. Mandela received a conviction on charges of sabotage and other crimes as he led a movement against apartheid, serving 27 years in prison. Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his groundbreaking work that led to the beginning of the end to apartheid.
  3. “The Moment of Lift” by Melinda Gates: A New York Times instant best-seller, Melinda Gates’ “The Moment of Lift” tells the stories of the women she met during her years of humanitarian work and research around the world. Simultaneously, she also tells the story of her personal journey to achieving equality in her marriage to Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Gates makes this foundational claim in her evocative book: “When we lift up women, we lift up humanity.” President Barack Obama praised Gates’ first book for its power and importance: “In her book, Melinda tells the stories of the inspiring people she’s met through her work all over the world, digs into the data and powerfully illustrates issues that need our attention—from child marriage to gender inequity in the workplace.”
  4. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama: Michelle Obama, the first African American First Lady of the United States of America, tells her impressive story in this thought-provoking novel. From growing up on the south side of Chicago, balancing an executive position, motherhood and her time as First Lady, Obama demonstrates her dedication as an advocate for women and girls everywhere. In this number one U.S. bestselling memoir, Obama promotes inclusivity and displays important advancements toward healthy living for families everywhere, cementing her place in this list of inspirational books with advocate authors.
  5. “Mother Theresa: In My Own Words” by Mother Teresa: Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic nun who worked for over 40 years in India. She ministered for the sick and poor as she founded and expanded the Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa became a famed humanitarian and advocate for the poor by 1970. She received the Nobel Peace Prize for her inspirational and selfless work in Calcutta, India. A collection of quotes, stories and prayers, “Mother Teresa: In My Own Words” is a testament to the power of her words, not only for the poor but for everyone around the globe.
Poverty links inextricably to so many other issues that are plaguing the world today. Between equal access to education, food security and racial segregation, it is impossible to ignore the connection between all of these issues. These inspirational books with advocate authors serve as informative and motivational pieces of writing that remind everyone to be global citizens and actively fight for one another.

– Hannah White
Photo: Flickr

authors who dealt with poverty
Throughout history, humans have mastered the art of storytelling. Through images, oration and literature, authors have told unique stories that reflect their culture and experiences. Books endow readers with the gift of understanding another perspective. While some authors have enjoyed lavish lifestyles, others traveled down a rugged road with only a dream. These are five authors who dealt with poverty.

5 Authors Who Dealt With Poverty

  1. John Steinbeck: Born in 1902 in the rural Salinas Valley in California, Steinbeck was neither rich nor poor. At a young age, Steinbeck became fond of writing. After a brief tenure at Stanford, Steinbeck went to New York. An inability to secure employment paired with abysmal living conditions compelled him to return to California. In Lake Tahoe, he worked as a caretaker for an estate and as an employee at a fish hatchery. He bore extensive hours of work with unbearable temperatures. After multiple unsuccessful attempts as a writer, Steinbeck wrote his first successful novel, “Tortilla Flat,” in 1935. He went on to author “Of Mice and Men” and “The Grapes of Wrath” which both highlight the difficulties of migrant workers during the Great Depression. “The Grapes of Wrath” went on to win the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1940. In 1962, John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize in literature.
  2. J.K. Rowling: The acclaimed author of the Harry Potter series, Rowling did not come from humble beginnings. After a brutal divorce in 1994, Rowling became a single parent to her daughter. She had no money or job, forcing her to rely on British welfare. In 1997, Rowling’s life changed with the publishing of her book, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” She went on to write six more books in the series that sold upwards of 400 million copies. Her net worth today sits at around $1 billion. The Harry Potter series manifests some of the struggles in Rowling’s life, most profoundly, death. Her struggles in early adulthood stemmed from her mother’s death after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. After this trauma, Rowling was indecisive about the path she should take, similar to Harry Potter throughout the series.
  3. Stephen King: Regarded as one of the greatest horror writers of all time, Stephen King is another author that did not have an easy upbringing. At the age of 2, King’s father abandoned his family, leaving them in utter poverty. King’s mother took multiple low paying jobs in an effort to make ends meet. When he reached adulthood, King became employed at a textile mill in Maine. He worked outrageous 20-hour shifts with minimal pay. This work inspired him to write his first piece, “Graveyard Shifts.” After graduating from college, King took a low paying job at a laundromat and later secured a demanding teaching position hoping to provide for his family. During this time, King began writing “Carrie.” Upon finishing “Carrie,” publishers rejected it 30 times before publishing it. The novel helped King earn over $200,000 and jumpstart his writing career. He went on to write bestsellers such as “The Shining” and “It.” King was always interested in the horror genre because he had experienced a great deal of trauma during his life. King’s novels such as “The Mangler,” “Salem’s Lot” and “Duma’s Key” all include elements of his struggles throughout life
  4. Charles Dickens: One of the most influential writers of the Victorian Era, Dickens has constructed a plethora of acclaimed novels. Born in 1812, Dickens was the second oldest of eight children. While his parents worked to provide the best life possible, the family remained poor. In 1822, the family moved to the poor neighborhood of Camden Town in London. Dickens’ father went to prison for being in debt shortly after in 1824. As a result, Dickens had to leave school and work at a run-down shoe polishing factory. He worked strenuous hours to only earn six shillings per week. Dickens was able to return to school when his father paid his debts and left prison but he ended up working again at the age of 15 to help his family. In 1836, Dickens published his first book, “Sketches by Boz.” He married soon thereafter and went on to publish stellar novels such as “Oliver Twist,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Great Expectations.” Dickens’ early life played an integral role in shaping his works. His feelings of being usurped of his childhood and education are evident in books such as “Hard Times” and “Oliver Twist.”
  5. George Orwell: Born in 1903 in Bengal, India, people have lauded George Orwell for his creative works based on his societal observations. Orwell characterizes his parents as those with wealthy attitudes without substance. In 1911, Orwell returned to England with his parents and began attending boarding school. Despite being brilliant, people ostracized Orwell due to his poverty. In 1928, he went to live among the poor for over a year in London and, later, Paris. In Paris, he worked as a dishwasher and attempted to understand the lives and values of the poor. Orwell’s disdain for imperialism prompted him to write “Down and Out in Paris and London,” a fictional recount of his time in Paris and London. In 1946, Orwell began writing “1984,” which describes a future dystopia where the entire world succumbs to poverty due to governmental repression. Other famous works include “The Road to Wigan Pier,” which highlights the life of impoverished mine workers in England, and “Animal Farm,” an allegorical satire of communism and the Soviet Union.

These five authors who dealt with poverty are examples of people who did not give in to the demeaning nature of poverty. They used literature as an outlet to convey their deepest emotions. Books entail more than fictional elements. They are a reflection of the events and hardships in the author’s life with perennial lessons, and these authors are an exemplification of this.

Jai Shah
Photo: Flickr

Books on Poverty

Listed below are four fiction and non-fiction books on poverty. The novels not only share interesting stories and plots, but they also demonstrate the injustice of poverty and remind the readers of the importance of fighting back and helping people overcome these odds.

4 Books on Poverty

  1. Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers
    Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a non-fiction novel by Katherine Boo — Pulitzer Prize winner and staff writer for The New Yorker. Her novel sheds light on families trying to better their lives in a makeshift settlement in Annawadi, while the rest of India begins to flourish. Boo spent three years in India personally gathering stories about the struggles these families faced. The novel begins by revealing the harsh truth of living in slum life; families make money by selling rich people’s garbage while facing adversity like wrongful imprisonment. Boo also shows how corruption in institutions like hospitals, charities and the education system threatens poor communities. Behind the Beautiful Forevers won the National Book award in 2012. The novel has been added to the common core and the teachings continue to be shared in high schools everywhere.

  2. NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names
    We Need New Names
    is a fictional novel written by Zimbabwean author, NoViolet Bulawayo. Bulawayo’s novel is about a young girl’s journey out of Zimbabwe and into the United States. The book focuses on life in Zimbabwe in the early 2000s. At that time, the country was in a political upheaval; the young girl and her family were forced to move to a new village after their home was bulldozed by the government. The book tells of the obstacles of living in a poverty-stricken country, and the family’s need to get out and start a new life.

  3. Robert D. Kaplan’s Surrender or Starve: Travels in Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea
    Kaplan’s Surrender or Starve: Travels in Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea is a non-fiction novel that explores the ethnic, religious and class conflicts of people in Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea in the 1980s. Kaplan studies the reasons for famine in the region and offers both a forward and afterward, which explains how the region has developed since the famine in the 80s.

  4. Nicholas D. Kristof’s and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
    Half the Sky is a non-fiction novel about the oppression of women and girls in the developing world. The novel introduces struggling women throughout Africa and Asia, some of which share their tragic experiences of being sold into sex slavery and suffering dangerous injuries during childbirth. The novel also gives hope to the audience by sharing how these women overcame the obstacles of living as a woman in poverty to lead fulfilled, successful lives.

Not only do these four books on poverty entertain their readers with interesting stories, but they also emphasize the importance of fighting back and helping to end poverty by sharing the harsh reality of living in a poverty-stricken community.

– Juliette Lopez
Photo: Flickr

Books About Poverty
Books, historically, impress on people in ways no other medium can. Their value is indisputable and has proven a necessity throughout time as a means to communicate and collect knowledge. Literature covers an array of genres, from horror to romance, technology to business—a book can really contain anything. In today’s complex world, people also use books to spread the news of relevant issues, and specifically, can spread the news of global poverty. Publishers have published hundreds of books about poverty in the last century alone, but a few have shone through in recent years. If anyone wants to become more informed about global poverty, the list of books about poverty below would be a perfect way to start.

5 Good Books About Poverty

  1. The End of Poverty” by Jeffery Sachs takes a look at poverty from an economic standpoint. The author, both an avid traveler and economist himself, utilizes both analytical research and personal experience in developing nations to provide an in-depth assessment of global poverty. His travels through Bolivia, India, China, Russia and Africa complete the picture of global poverty he tries to address. At the same time, he provides insight on how to escape poverty through the perspective of global economics. The unique economic standpoint permits not only a glimpse into the issues but also ideas of how to fight them.
  2. Behind the Beautiful Forevers” snapshots the life of a settlement just outside the airport of Mumbai, India. Author Katharine Boo eloquently follows the stories of various individuals living in the area as a way to highlight poverty in India. She also utilizes the narrative to explore controversial themes within the Indian context, from politics to economics to religion. As a nonfiction bestseller, the book won a National Book Award in 2012. With a central focus on the developing parts of India and a strong written backbone, this book about poverty offers great insight into a complex issue of the world.
  3. How China Escaped the Poverty Trap” captures the country’s development from a struggling nation to an economic powerhouse with a global standing. Taking into account China’s entire development holistically, author Yuen Yuen Ang frames his analysis with a combination of history, economics, politics and general sentiments of the Chinese throughout the years. In addition to an isolated look at China, Ang finds methods of comparison between other nations as they rose into prominence, such as the United States. This book about poverty showcases how a country can come up from poverty and become an established force in the world.
  4. A Poverty of Rights” analyzes Brazil’s governmental growth and the effect it has had on the nation’s poorest classes. Though the country has grown to protect most rights of its citizens, it seems that the country left out the lower classes during the developmental period, resulting in difficulty for these people to even survive in their own country. Author Brodwyn Fischer assesses the damage through both a political and legislative perspective, highlighting both the progress of the country and the challenges it still faces.
  5. Poverty in South Africa: Past and Present” explores the persistent nature of poverty in Africa, both of today’s times and of the past. Author Colin Bundy’s book about poverty, published in 2018, is able to provide an accurate account of the trouble times due to several factors. It takes a look at Africa’s society from various perspectives, including (though not limited to) historical, economic, financial and political. The book focuses on the root factors affecting poverty in Africa to try and answer the question of why the country has yet to develop further in today’s modern world. This work assesses Africa’s situation on a logical scale, allowing the reader to view challenges with an objective thought process.

Books have a way of capturing a concept more holistically than any other form of record. While they can contain basic information, authors also have the distinct ability to make an audience feel and empathize with the subject. As such, books are also the perfect way to discuss poverty. Readers are able to learn about the issues and also visualize them with immense detail. They are truly a way to spread the word about poverty.

Eleanora Kamerow
Photo: Unsplash

Literacy Rate in India
India witnessed an increase in its overall literacy rate, jumping from 64.8 percent in 2001 to 74 percent in 2011. To further encourage this upward trend, Pratham Books is introducing children to new adventures and worlds. Pratham Books is a nonprofit publisher empowering Indian children with the joy of reading. According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), in 2016, one out of two Indian children could not read at their grade level. Pratham Books is on a mission to improve the youth literacy rate in India.

Accessibility of Pratham Books to Different Reading Proficiencies

Pratham Books offers children a variety of programs to encourage them to read. From their bright and colorful storybooks to their cost-efficient story cards, Pratham Books has created a platform for everyone to enjoy. The storybooks expand over a wide range of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama.

Pratham Books divides books into four levels; emergent, early, independent and fluent readers. Instead of children deciding to read a book based on age, they can choose based on their reading proficiency so they can learn at their own pace. The nonprofit publisher also explores STEM, cultural and bilingual topics.

The Importance of Library-in-a-Classroom

According to the World Bank, nearly 22 percent of India’s population was living in poverty in 2011. For many low-income families, children do not have access to school supplies, including books. Pratham Books created a solution to this issue through its Library-in-a-Classroom (LIC) initiative. The LIC is a portable bookshelf that schools can hang on a wall and can hold over 100 books. Though the LIC does not have rows upon rows of shelves, it does provide children with a library-like atmosphere and inspires them to read.

StoryWeaver and Digital Books

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 40 percent of the world lacks access to education in a language they can understand. Aside from print books, Pratham Books also supplies children with digital storybooks through its digital platform, StoryWeaver. With over 15,000 stories in nearly 200 languages, StoryWeaver is not only a place where children can read and learn but also create, translate and download content for free. In an interview with The Economic Times, Chairperson, Suzanne Singh, stated that with nearly 400,000 users on StoryWeaver, the company’s “readership…has grown outside India.” People as far as African and Canada explore StoryWeaver’s rich content while supporting a good cause.

“A Book in Every Child’s Hand”

From 2017-2018, Pratham Books shared nearly 1.5 million books across India. Through the assistance of its partners, Pratham Books also established 300 libraries in government schools. That same year, the nonprofit publisher’s Donate-a-Book campaign was able to provide 45,000 children with access to a library. Pratham Books has recently released PhoneStories, granting children access to its stories while on the go.

Through Pratham Books, thousands of children now have access to books in school and their language. With more and more young children introduced to reading, the youth literacy rate in India continues to increase. The nonprofit publisher may have begun in India, but it is greatly impacting the world and empowering children.

– Emily Beaver
Photo: Flickr

Novels About Global PovertyBeing a teenager is hard no matter what situation you live in. But these authors have written novels about global poverty, following young protagonists who deal with poverty with wit, humor and compassion. So the next time you’re at your local library or bookstore, pick up one of the following titles.

5 Young Adult Novels About Global Poverty

  1. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
    This book won a 2006 Newberry Honor for its outstanding contribution to children’s literature. It follows 14-year-old Miri, named for the fictional miri flower that grows between cracks of linder stones. When it is foretold the next princess will come from Miri’s small mountain village, all teenage girls are forced to attend school for the first time in their lives. With newfound knowledge of diplomacy, reading and commerce, Miri and the other girls are able to negotiate a better life for themselves and their families.
  2. Trash by Andy Mulligan
    Based on the author’s experience teaching in the Philippines, this story takes place in a not-so-distant future. Three “dumpsite boys” are picking trash when they find something truly special—a wallet and a key. Their decision to keep the items sends them through a tangled web of government corruption. Now, they must use all of their wit to stay one step ahead of their pursuers and right a terrible wrong.
  3. No and Me by Delphine de Vignan
    After winning the prestigious Bookseller’s Prize in France as an adult novel, this book has been translated into English and rebranded as young adult fiction. The story features 13-year-old Lou Bertignac, a very intelligent Parisian girl with a strained home life. While watching people at the Austerlitz train station, Lou meets No, an 18-year-old homeless girl. The two develop a friendship that starts as a school project but soon becomes genuine. When Lou asks her family if No can live with them, it has far-reaching effects on both No and Lou’s family.
  4. Street Dreams by Tama Wise
    On the first page of this book, Tyson Rua, a high school dropout living in South Auckland, falls in love at first sight—with a man. Inspired by author Tama Wise’s experiences growing up Māori and LBGT+ in New Zealand, this book follows Tyson’s pursuit of “the white homeboy.” Although he works as a dishwasher to support his mother and two younger brothers, Tyson loves hip-hop and graffiti art. He joins a crew of street artists, who subject him to homophobic slurs, and ventures from his poor Māori community into the almost all white gay scene. Tyson’s coming-of-age story is a challenge of balancing race, sexuality and poverty—a rarity in young adult fiction.
  5. Sold by Patricia McCormick
    Told in short chapters, this novel is a National Book Award finalist. Thirteen-year-old Lakshmi lives in a small Himalayan village with her mother and stepfather, who gambles away their money at a local tea shop. When a monsoon causes their crops to fail, her stepfather claims to have found Lakshmi work as a maid. She travels to India only to learn the truth—she has been sold into prostitution. The novel chronicles her stay at “Happiness House” and her daring attempt to escape.

Although these young adult novels deal with a wide variety of topics, they each relate to the systemic problem of global poverty. Sexual slavery, lack of access to girls’ education, homelessness and trash picking are very real circumstances that many teenagers experience. Novels about global poverty are not only captivating but also provide much-needed awareness on important issues in the world today.

Jackie Mead
Photo: Flickr


For many, learning the truth about poverty can be hard. Unfortunately, for many, poverty is a sad reality. However, people should want to learn more about poverty so that it can be alleviated. The following is a list of books that will change your perspective on poverty.

5 Books that Will Change Your Perspective on Poverty

  1. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity: Katherine Boo, Pulitzer-winner, published this novel in 2012. This book is a narrative nonfiction that tells the story of a family working towards a better life in the city of Annawadi, where inequality is very high. Over the course of three years, Boo got to know the people who live in Annawadi. The book focuses on the daily stresses and problems of the inhabitants, who are suffering from poverty, hunger, diseases, violence and ethnic strife. Boo focuses on people such as a young orphan named Sunsil, a garbage picker, and Fatima, a young, emotionally troubled woman who only has one leg and dreams of a better life. The book focuses on many people who are suffering from poverty and wish to escape the situation. This heartbreaking and dramatic true story will change your perspective about poverty.
  2. How Change Happens: This novel, “seeks to understand how power and systems shape change, and how you can influence them.” How Change Happens was published in 2016 and is written by Duncan Green. This book is for those interested in activism, lobbying, or joining organizations that are dedicated to inspiring change. Green focuses on major themes that can help make change occur in the world.
  3. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide: Written by Pulitzer-winners Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, this nonfiction story takes place in Asia and Africa. Here, Kristof and WuDunn meet extraordinary women who are struggling with inequality, sex slavery, violence and abuse. Kristof and WuDunn paint the world with many emotions; sadness, anger, clarity, and hope. “Deeply felt, pragmatic, and inspirational, Half the Sky is essential reading for every global citizen,” reviewers commented. This book will definitely change your perspective about poverty.
  4. Development as Freedom: Development as Freedom was published in 1999 and written by economist Amartya Sen. The book argues that economic development entails a set of linked freedoms: the freedom of opportunity including access to credit, political freedoms and transparency in relations between people, and economic protection from abject poverty, including through income supplements and unemployment relief. The book states that real change will not happen simply by increasing basic income or rising average GDP per capita. Instead, a package of overlapping mechanisms that will enable the exercise of a growing range of freedoms is required. Sen’s views lie in free markets as an essential method of acquiring freedom.
  5. Little Bee: Chris Cleave’s fiction novel, Little Bee, follows the story of two women — one a recent widow from suburban London, and the other is an illegal Nigerian refugee. These women form a tenuous friendship, and as the story develops, Little Bee’s harsh life is recounted. The novel examines the treatment of refugees by the asylum system, as well as issues of British colonialism, globalization, political violence, and personal accountability.

These books will all change your perspective about poverty. They even offer ways in which people can help alleviate poverty, and suggestions for how people should treat each other in order to thrive in this world. Each book tells heartbreaking, but true stories that are many people’s reality, living in poverty and enduring harsh conditions. The books and their dynamic characters will surely affect your perspective on poverty.

Solansh Moya

Photo: Flickr