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If I Had a Hammer / by David Rubel

Title: If I Had a Hammer: Stories of Building Homes and Hope with Habitat for Humanity
Author: David Rubel
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4769-8
Year: 2009

Concepts: interdependence, poverty, social justice, altruism, scarcity, economic development

Review: The non-profit Habitat for Humanity has become well-known internationally for its mission of using volunteer labor to build affordable new homes for people living in sub-standard housing. Contributing to its sustainability, Habitat for Humanity has required that new homeowners make a small down payment on the home, pay back the full cost of the home in regular zero-interest payments, and contribute “sweat equity” by participating in the construction of the home.

The organization’s most famous volunteers, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, have worked tirelessly to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity, promote greater awareness, attract new volunteers, and contribute their own labor to a multitude of new construction projects. Thanks to their efforts and those of the founders, board members, and participants, the non-profit has grown from a small housing ministry in the late 1960s to a prominent community service organization with more than a million volunteers and construction projects in close to one hundred countries.

This book is both interesting and informative. With its careful balance between historical narrative, details about current operations worldwide, and personal vignettes, If I Had a Hammer is bound to stimulate the admiration of young adult readers for the organization and quite possibly a real desire to pursue opportunities for participation.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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