TWENTY-TWO CENTS: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank

By Paula Yoo
Illustrated by Jamel Akib

Growing up in Bangladesh, Muhammad Yunus witnessed extreme poverty all around and was determined to eradicate it.

In 1976, as an Economics professor, Muhammad met a young craftswoman in the village of Jobra who needed to borrow five taka (twenty-two cents) to buy materials. No bank would lend such a small amount to an uneducated woman, so she was forced to borrow from corrupt lenders who charged an unfair interest rate, and left her without enough profit to buy food. Muhammad realized that what stood in the way of her financial security was just a few cents. Inspired, Muhammad founded Grameen Bank where people could borrow small amounts of money to start a job, and then pay back the bank without exorbitant interest charges.

Over the next few years, Muhammad's compassion and determination changed the lives of millions of people by loaning the equivalent of more than ten billion US dollars in micro-credit. This has also served to advocate and empower the poor, especially women, who often have limited options. Twenty-two Cents is an inspiring story of economic innovation and a celebration of how one person, like one small loan, can make a positive difference in the lives of many.

This book is also available in chapter book form as part of Lee & Low Books' new series, "THE STORY OF..." You can order it here:

    • Hardcover publication date: September 4, 2014
    • Hardcover Trade ISBN: 978-1600606588
    • Reading level: Ages 6-11 (children's non-fiction picture book biography)
    • Publisher: Lee & Low Books

This poignant picture book biography describes Muhammad Yunus,

the man who developed microcredit, or the economic movement that gives small loans to the impoverished and that is breaking the cycle of rural poverty around the world.Born into a middle-class family in what is now Bangladesh in 1940, Yunus studied economics in America as a Fulbright scholar, where he saw Vietnam War protests and was “impressed by the students’ belief that they could make a difference.” Returning to Bangladesh after its brutal war for independence, Yunus was overwhelmed by resulting poverty, drought, and exploitation by moneylenders. He met a struggling craftswoman. Though she only needed 22 cents, she was denied a loan because her illiteracy and poverty made her a “banking untouchable.” In response, he founded Grameen (Village) Bank to make small loans to the poor, and the concept of microcredit was born. Honored in 2006 with a Nobel Peace Prize, Yunus accepted and in his speech celebrated “the hundreds of millions of women all around the world who struggle every day to make a living and bring hope for a better life for their children.” Yoo’s text is straightforward and detailed, and her story of a true hero of the modern world will resonate with students, while the accompanying illustrations enhance the narrative through line and color in soft chalk pastels. Back matter includes a bibliography of sources, an afterword with information about poverty in America, and an update on Yunus’s life since his retirement in 2011. This hopeful and inspiring tale sheds light on an important but little-known subject who made a huge difference."



2014 Junior Library Guild Selection

2014 CCBC Choices Annual Best Children's Books of the Year - Cooperative Children's Book Center

2015 Best Children's Books of the Year - Bank Street College of Education

2015 Notable Books for a Global Society - Children’s Literature & Reading Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association

2015 Best Multicultural Books - Center for the Study of Multicultural Children's Books

2015 Skipping Stones Honor Award - Skipping Stones: An International Multicultural Magazine

2015 South Asia Book Award - South Asia National Outreach Consortium

2015 2015 Social Justice Literature Award - International Literacy Association