Humanitarianism

Mother Teresa would turn 105 on August 26. Though she is no longer living, her work lives on in the slums of Calcutta, India where she served the poor, the sick, the needy and those who were helpless. For her work, she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985. In celebration of Mother Teresa’s birthday, ask readers to read and think about the less fortunate in their own communities, and discuss ways they can help. It may be something as simple as providing school supplies for students who can’t afford them. Run a book drive for children and young adults who may have never owned a book. Here are other activities that libraries might do in the weeks leading up to Mother Teresa’s birthday:

  • Identify local organizations like the Urban League, United Ministries, the local chapter of the Red Cross, Department of Social Services, Loaves and Fishes, Free Medical Clinics, Habitat for Humanity, etc. that offer services to the underserved.  Ask someone from these organizations to speak to young library patrons, or offer a panel discussion for young patrons and their parents.
  • Then have them find out about global humanitarian organization working to make a difference in third world countries. Such groups may include: Doctors without Borders, Action Against Hunger, World Food Programme, WHO: Humanitarian Health Action, World Vision, CARE, Save the Children, and Women for Women International.
  • Ask children and young adults to discuss how these local and global organizations embody the spirit of Mother Teresa.
  • Read Aloud: Dear Malala, We Stand with You by Rosemary McCarney to all ages. Tell them that Malala also won the Nobel Peace Prize. Ask them to compare her work to that of Mother Teresa. Use the educators’ guide along with your story time.
  • For the youngest readers, have them read books about caring, sharing, justice and equality, and respect for others.  Suggestions from Random House include:

The Berenstain Bears Think of Those in Need by Stan and Jan Berenstain

The Berenstain Bears Lend a Helping Hand by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Doña Flor by Pat Mora and illustrated by Raul Colon

How Dalia Put a Big Yellow Comforter in a Tiny Blue Box by Linda Heller and illustrated by Stacy Dressen McQueen

The Mitten String by Jennifer Rosner and illustrated by Kristina Swarner

  • Suggest that middle-graders and teens read the following books and discuss which character most represents Mother Teresa’s qualities, or which character could benefit from humanitarian groups:

Middle Grade

All the Earth, Thrown to the Sky by Joe R. Lansdale

All the Way Home by Patricia Reilly Giff

Children of the River by Linda Crew

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

The Great Trouble by Deborah Hopkinson

Laugh with the Moon by Shana Burg

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

One Year in Cold Harbor by Polly Horvath

Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

Slumgirl Dreaming by Ali Rubina in collaboration with Anne Berthod and Divya Dugar

Teen

Ghost Boy by Iain Lawrence

Grief Girl by Erin Vincent

How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt

I Will Save You by Matt de la Peña

In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irena Gut Opdyke with Jennifer Armstrong

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, Adapted for Young People by Michael French

Small Steps by Louis Sachar

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

Prizefighter en mi Casa by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

Trash by Andy Mulligan

What They Found by Walter Dean Myers

  •  If your library has a blog, encourage older readers to create blog posts titled In Celebration of Mother Teresa.