Twenty-two Cents

22_CENTS_front_cover_resizeTwenty-two Cents~ Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank
by Paula Yoo; illus. by Jamel Akib
40 pages; ages 6-11
Lee & Low, 2014

Muhammad Yunus grew up in the port city of Chittagong, back when it was still a part of India. He went to school, studied hard, joined the Boy Scouts and worked to help the less fortunate in his community. One of the things he noticed was how just a few coins could make a big difference to a family: it could buy rice to feed children, and allow women to buy raw materials from which to craft items for sale at the local markets.

Muhammad decided to study economics, thinking he could help make people’s lives better. After graduating college, he came to the US to continue studying and began teaching. But his homeland was torn by war. He returned to what now was Bangladesh, to a country devastated by drought and famine as well as the war.

His life changed when he met a woman who needed 22-cents to buy materials for making the bamboo stools she sold. But she could not borrow the money from a bank because that amount was too small. Muhammad knew it would be easy to give her the money, but he wanted to find a better solution – a long-term solution that would help the women become economically self sufficient. His idea: micro-lending. A village bank that would loan out small amounts to groups of people who would repay the loans as a group. The borrowers would begin with classes on banking and borrowing before they received their low-interest loans.

In this book, Paula Yoo tells the story of Muhammad, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his service to his community and the wider world. But it’s more than a biography; she infuses each page with cultural context and brings the reader into a world where 22-cents can make the difference between feeding a family and starving. Put this one on your “must read” list.

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2 thoughts on “Twenty-two Cents

  1. It’s ironic, but we don’t often hear much about the Nobel laureates unless they are people that we already know! This is a nice change to that trend. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

  2. I wondered when we would see a book about this subject. It’s a great story. I need to share it with my students.

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