Book Review: The Promise Of A Pencil


I seem to be unable to write a review for this book. I think it’s because this book is very important to me and without my facial expressions and actual voice talking about this non-profit organisation the effect isn’t as influential. However, I’ll give it a go! I did not buy this book but this is how it came to be in my possession. I donated a little money to *Pencils Of Promise… after I received an email from PoP and they wanted my address to send me a welcome package. Fast forward a few weeks – I got a package in the post. Inside was a lovely handwritten note from PoP and a signed copy of  The Promise Of A Pencil by Adam Braun, the founder of PoP. It was incredibly endearing to receive this book, so thank you PoP.

Right enough with that…Pencils of Promise was founded by Adam Braun, on his travels as a college student Adam decided to ask the locals about what one thing they wanted most in the world. More than anything – Insert first world thoughts: unlimited amounts of money, a house, a new car, winning the lottery etc – however, after asking a child in India what he wanted more than anything in the world the child answered, ‘A pencil.’  This was the inspiration for Pencils of Promise, a non-profit organisation that has now built over 200 schools around the world in order to help under privileged communities and their children to learn and have the opportunity every child deserves. The most powerful tool, an education.

My copy of this book in now covered in post it notes, highlighted quotes and folded over pages (omgosh folded pages noooo – ’tis ok I got over this). One does not need to read very far into the book to realise Adam is writing with profound, first-hand experience as he writes: I believe that where you start in life should not dictate where you finish. And that no tool can more profoundly unlock a person’s ability to change his or her place in like than access to quality education.’ This book demonstrates the power of how honest hard work can create an extraordinary change. As Adam says ‘to achieve exceptional things, you must hold yourself to exceptional standards regardless of what others may think.’

In the 30 chapters, one takes a walk through Adam’s memoirs of his experiences and lessons learnt that finally led the successful NGO he is founder of today. I’ve ready many articles and reviews about how the success of Pencils of Promise is laid down to Adam’s business savviness as a Brown University graduate and a former Bain & Company employee. From my reading of the book, I believe otherwise. The success of PoP is drawn from Adam’s personal commitment to the educational crisis, his will to not give up, optimism and perspective of various opportunities, his respect for those around him and finally taking decisions not with his business driven mind but his passionate heart have led to a unique kind of success. I don’t believe PoP was successful because people realised Adam Braun was a good business man (thought obviously this is a plus), this NGO has become so successful and will continue too because Adam reached peoples’ hearts …which led to word of mouth, sharing on the internet, genuine love and interest for the cause and finally success for many years to come.

With PoP’s grassroot approach of incorporating the local community, councils and government to help in providing resources and labour, the school in the community becomes not only a PoP creation it is a community investment for parents and grandparents to see their children grow and be educated – an opportunity they probably never had. This book isn’t whimsical it doesn’t brush over the troubled spots and paint a nice picture of how #PoP was created. Adam honestly discusses his troubles and how he overcame them and for many other reasons including this, this is why this book is incredibly inspiring and believable. This is not fiction, it is about how one person had a job but wasn’t satisfied and instead of giving up bangingtheirheadagainstthewall, he decided to do something to make a difference to the global community of education, to stamp his mark on the world and say, I’m going to make a difference!


I don’t want to put in too many quotes because I want you peoplez to read this book, but I’ll put in my favorite quote: ‘Hopeless idealism in things that are utterly impossible is required.’

If anybody reads this and would like to compare notes I genuinely would love too, I have actually studied my copy forwards and backwards, highlighted, underlined, dif coloured post it notes –  the whole jazz! You can tweet me here, on my new FB page here and don’t forget to Instagram your copy of The Promise Of A Pencil like I have here. Also – cheeky ask *hides face* – but instead of the coffee this week why not take a caffeine hiatus for a week and please considering donating to #PoP small or big it will all make a difference.

*I’m mentioning that I didn’t buy this book out of respect for my readers. However this does not influence my opinion of this book or this NGO. I have not been asked in any way shape or form by PoP to write a review.