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The Promise of a Pencil: How An Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change - Book Review

Book Rating: ★ ★ ★

I heard about The Promise of a Pencil through a friend's Facebook post. Curiosity struck as I’ve never heard of this non-profit organization called Promise of Pencils. As someone who recently committed to being a Project Leader for Operation Christmas Child, a Samaritan’s Purse program whose mission is to send out shoeboxes filled with gifts to children all over the world, of course it made sense for me to borrow it.

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Adam Braun is a twenty-something year old college student when he signs up to travel abroad through Semester at Sea. Braun desperate for a personal change, learns he will be traveling abroad on a ship set for South Africa, Southeast Asia, and India. During the voyage, Braun would ask each child or local, what do they want most in the world. While in India, a young boy begging gave Braun an answer he wasn’t expecting but changed everything.

A pencil.

This encounter ignites the inspiration behind Promise of Pencils, which now has over 200 schools around the world, dedicated to giving children from poverty countries a chance to have an education. Braun’s purpose for his book is to prove how a dream can cause a movement and, of course, make the world a better place.


When I read books like this, it brings into focus one of life's purpose, to serve and love others . It makes one believe there's still good hidden somewhere in society when the world, or the news, can feel dim, dark, and at moments, self-centered. However, you can’t ignore those feelings when something stirs up from inside, creating a desire to make a difference in the world. Especially when one reads something like this book, prompting a person to start lending a hand or in this case, a pencil.

I enjoyed reading Braun’s journey in forming Promise of Pencils. There’s no doubt Braun had a vision and was dedicated to seeing it become a reality. Every risk and reward to lead to the purpose of bringing children the opportunity to have an education in some of the most poverty stricken countries.


I can’t help but feel this book felt more like a memoir of Braun’s life. He shares about his family history, his upbringings, and his fortunate opportunities in life such as attending Harvard, interning at a Hedge Fund, etc. Braun does share how he felt driven to live a life with purpose and I don't denied it. There’s a paragraph I’d like to quote from the book:

“Sometimes you know something in your head, and other times you know it in your heart. The mind delivers logic and reason, but the heart is where faith resides. In moments of uncertainty, when you must choose between two paths, allowing yourself to be overcome by either the fear of failure or the dimly lit light of possibility, immerse yourself in the life you would be most proud to live.”


Overall, Braun’s determination and drive in making Promises of Pencil is present in the book. Journeys are not a sprint, but a marathon, filled with constant change and challenges. I will be honest with you. I liked learning about Promise of Pencils and greatly admire how it came to existence, but I did struggle with finishing it as I started losing interested in the book. This is just my opinion as I do struggle with non-fiction books, but it is a story of triumph for good which is why I rate it 3 stars. For Braun, a young man wanting to have purpose in his life, there's an intentional inspiration written inside his book.

I want to add to this, all the proceeds from this book goes toward Promise of Pencils. I will be making a purchase of this book and will have an upcoming giveaway on my social media pages.


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Book Rating

Excellent/ Highly Recommend
Great/ Recommended
Good Story
Okay / Struggle to Finish
Meh / Did Not Finish
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