The Day the World Came to Town, by Jim DeFede
Thirty-eight jets (more than 6,000 travellers) bound for the United States were redirected to Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001. This is the account of the citizens of Gander who dropped what they were doing in order to help out – taking people into their homes, crawling into jet cargo holds to feed the animals on the flights, tracking down people and information, and affirming the basic goodness of humankind during a moment when such goodness was easy to doubt.
Little Princes, by Conor Grennan
Grennan, a young guy seeking a bit of travel adventure, finds himself volunteering in a Nepalese orphanage where he gets wrapped up in the lives of the energetic and resilient kids. Then, to his horror, he discovers that the children aren’t orphans at all… and he decides to do something about this complex and dangerous situation. You’ll be drawn into the author’s world as he finds out that he really can make a difference in the world.
King Peggy, by Eleanor Herman
Peggy, a secretary at the Ghanaian embassy in Washington DC, gets a wildly unexpected phone call – she has been elected king of Otuam, an African village of 7,000 souls. She comes to realize, however, that the elders who elected her, did so because they thought they could control a woman whose home-base was across the ocean. Wrong. They soon discover that their days of corruption are numbered as Peggy finds ways to improve the lives of her people.
Drama High, by Michael Sokolove
Set in a Bruce Springsteen rustbelt town, this biography of a high school drama teacher extraordinaire is engaging and truly inspiring. It’s the story of Lou Volpe, whose forty year career as a high school drama teacher has transformed the lives of hundreds, even thousands of students. Who doesn’t love to read about people doing the job the great universe intended them for?
The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius, by Kristine Barnett
When the experts break it to the author that her autistic son is not expected to achieve much more than dressing himself, Kristine Barnett decides it is time to withdraw her child from their care. She notes that the therapists focus on the things her son cannot do, and she decides to use his interests (and the things he can do) as an access point to his autistic isolation. This strength-based approach is highly successful and once her son is able to communicate, it becomes evident that he is a prodigy.
Wish You Happy Forever, by Jenny Bowen
In the process of adopting a Chinese orphan, Californian filmmaker, Jenny Bowen, discovers the terrible conditions these children were growing up in. Bowen decides she has to do something about these kids and sets out to make a difference. And make a difference she has. But imagine a Chinese national coming to Canada and setting up programs in our group homes or orphanages. At best, we’d ignore such audacity; at worst we’d arrest and deport. So how did an American transform Chinese institutional child care? The fragile dance Bowen and her cohorts conduct in order to fly under the radar and affect change makes for compelling reading. Well worth your time