For those, who like me, haven't been around the development scene for ages, here is some reading material that I've found really useful in bringing me up to speed on the issues.
For an easy read, try Jeffrey Sach's 'The End of Poverty' which is an impassioned (and some would say naive) appeal to the developed world to increase its aid (or 'development assistance') to poor countries.
For something a bit meatier, check out Nobel Prize Winner Amartya Sen's 'Development as Freedom', which has been very influential in shaping the 'human development' concept championed by the United Nations Development Programme and their annual Human Development Report.
If you like history and a bit of old fashioned straight talking, invest in a copy of 'The Wealth and Poverty of Nations' by David Landes. Landes is an economic historian whose central thesis is that culture matters in shaping economic development, and this explains the dominance of Western Europe over the last 300-500 years.
Finally, for something a bit closer to home, browse through 'The Bipolar Pacific', a recent analysis by the Centre for Independent Studies (a right-leaning/libertarian think tank) on the development situation in some of Australia's closest neighbours.