Build empathy and understanding about complicated issues.
These beautiful stories will destigmatize the experience of people living in poverty by giving children of all socioeconomic backgrounds a glimpse into the lives of others.
Well-told stories are the best tools for teaching empathy and inspiring your next volunteer project.
You may also want to check out our collection of picture books about hunger, poverty, and homelessness.
Talk about the issue.
How would you feel if you had to rely on a stranger to provide your lunch every day?
How do you feel when you are hungry and have to wait to eat? How would it feel to experience that sort of hunger every day?
What do you think would be the hardest part of not having a home?
If you did not have a place to live, what things would be most important to you? Where would you sleep? How would you stay clean?
What things are you grateful for? Are these things you need to live or things that are simply nice to have?
Watch for opportunities to discuss the topic of poverty beyond these books, perhaps when you see someone on the street asking for a handout, or when you're dropping off a donation at the neighborhood food pantry.
Challenge stereotypes and myths about people who are poor. Educate yourself and your children. For example, did you know that 21% of American children live in poverty? To learn more, take the Poverty Quiz with your kids created by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
A Kids' Guide to Hunger & Homelessness by Cathryn Berger Kaye
This workbook contains a motivating combination of eye-opening information, thought-provoking questions, and straightforward suggestions about how to make change. Empowered by this book, your child is sure to begin leading family acts of kindness.
Almost Home by John Bauer.
Twelve-year-old Sugar is losing everybody. Her grandfather passed away. Her father ran off with his gambling addiction. Thankfully, with the help of a rescue dog named Shush, an amazing teacher, and her own love of poetry, Sugar manages to stay calm in the stormy chaos of her life.
Esperenza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Set during the Great Depression, Esperenza is forced to give up her materialistic ways and work to help support her family.
Changing Places: A Kids View of Shelter Living by Judy Wallace and Glen Finland
Eight homeless children talk share true, poignant stories about life in a shelter. This is a wonderful resource for helping children see the human experience behind the issues of homelessness and poverty. Ages 6 - 12.
Food Fight: Poets Join the Fight Against Hunger with Poems to Favorite Food edited and illustrated by Michael J. Rosen
Thirty-three children’s poets contribute to the fight against hunger by penning poems about food. Read odes to pies, pizzas, and matzo ball soup.
The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage
This Newbery Honor book makes it clear that family and friends are greater treasures than any objects. The story introduces us to Armand, a homeless, solitary man. He discovers a family with children living under a bridge. He cherishes what they bring to his life, yet knows he must work to find them a better home.
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
When Wanda, a poor immigrant girl from Poland who always wears the same blue faded dress tells her classmates that she has one hundred dresses at home, the other children in class taunt her. After Wanda leaves the school because of the teasing, two of her classmates must deal with their guilt.
Rufus M. by Eleanor Estes
Even though his family doesn’t have much, Rufus always finds ways to overcome any obstacles he faces.
Invisible Lives by Mary Amato
An inspiring novel about a poverty-stricken kid with grit and his attempt to “rise above it."
Breaking Night by Liz Murray
Liz Murray ends up on the streets at age fifteen after fleeing a broken home, and made her way to Harvard University by her sheer will and determination.
No Place to Be: Voices of Homeless Children by Judith Berck
Weaves together commentary on homelessness with photos and the words of homeless kids.
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
This dark, dystopian series features a society so imbalanced that communities are forced to send their teenagers to fight to the death, their battle turned into televised entertainment. Though too disturbing for sensitive readers, there are many good ideas in this trilogy that illuminate the experience of poverty and promote empathy.
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