BIg-Hearted Books about Global Poverty from the Big-Hearted Families Program of

Five Big-Hearted Books about Global Poverty

Read & Reflect to Grow Big Hearts

Poverty and hunger are difficult ideas to raise with young children. As always, stories help us explore the issue, helping us inspire kids to take action.

These 5 books are not only wonderful stories, they can help you bring up some big questions, like:

  • If you lived in a poor country, what type of business might you run?
  • If you were poor, what would you do for fun? Do you think you would play differently?
  • What is the difference between giving another person money to help them make a living and loaning them the money to do it?
  • How would you feel if you needed to get your food from a food shelf?
  • What kind of foods would you hope to find there?
  • How can you make a difference for those who are hungry?

If you have a little extra time, try one of our related activities:

Here are some of my favorite picture books that will start a big-hearted conversation about poverty around the world:

1. Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley

A child is sent to find a younger brother at dinnertime and is introduced to a variety of cultures through encountering the many different ways rice is prepared at the different households visited.  In a culture overly abundant with macaroni and cheese, pizza, and left over Halloween candy, this book offers wonderful fresh perspective – and it may get your little ones to try something new.

2. One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway

This story follows Kojo, a young boy from Ghana, and his experience buying a hen with the help of a small community loan. Over the years, Kojo’s one hen grows into a bustling farm. Kojo’s small loan ultimately helps this family, his community, and even his country grow and thrive.

3. Cups Held Out by Judith L. Roth

A young girl and her father cross the border into Mexico where the child encounters poverty for the first time. Together they ponder the question, “What can we do about poor people?” Should they put money into every outstretched cup? Will buying a blanket make a difference? What about that shiny bike back home? There are no pat solutions to the problem of poverty, but there is value in asking the question and searching for personal answers.

4. Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier

An impoverished family flourishes after receiving a special four-legged gift in this uplifting picture book set in western Uganda.

 5. Armando and the Blue Tarp School by Edith Hope Fine(Lee & Low Books)

A young boy longs to go to school, but he must help his father sift though trash for items to sell to support the family. This book grants kids a new perspective on the privilege of school.

Plus, older readers (8 to 12) may enjoy Esparanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan.

Sudden tragedy during the great depression forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California and settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances. It’s a powerful, award-winning and much-loved story.

Interested in more resources related to global poverty, check out our complete collection here.

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