Picture Books about Global Poverty

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Understand Global Challenges Through Story

Poverty and hunger are difficult ideas to raise with young children. When these issues occur in far-away countries, empathy and understanding can be even more difficult to instill. Thankfully, this collection of incredible stories can help us get to know the world and its challenges in a meaningful way, potentially inspiring kids to take action.

Talk about the issue.

  • Why is it important to learn about issues affecting people in other countries? Do you think we should help people who live far away?

  • How do you think you would feel if you weren’t able to go to school, get to the doctor when you were sick, take a bath or have shoes to wear?

  • If you lived in a poor country, 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 struggling with difficult times?

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

Make time to discuss the books you read and the service projects you do together. By talking intentionally and openly about complicated ideas, you are giving your child the opportunity to strengthen their compassion, problem-solving, and empathy muscles.
— Sarah Aadland, Doing Good Together
Print DGT’s reflection guide when you volunteer to meet  global needs.

Print DGT’s reflection guide when you volunteer to meet global needs.

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Armando and the Blue Tarp School by Edith Hope Fine
A young boy longs to go to school, but he must help his father sift through trash for items to sell to support the family. This book grants kids a new perspective on the privilege of school.

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.

The Caged Birds of Phnom Penh by Frederick Lipp
An inspiring story of hope, with beautiful watercolor illustrations.

Children Just Like Me: A New Celebration of Children Around the World by Anabel and Barnabas Kindersley
The authors traveled around the world talking to and photographing the children they met.

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.

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 leftover Halloween candy, this book offers wonderful fresh perspective – and it may get your little ones to try something new.

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams
Two girls in a Pakistani refugee camp decide to share a pair of sandals given to them by a relief worker. A simple story of friendship.

Mama Panya's Pancakes by Mary Chamberlain
This magical, heart-warming story helps kids see that no matter how much or how little we have, we always have something to give others.

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 of 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.

We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures by Amnesty International
This wonderful book describes the rights of all children using simple laguage and illustrations.


Back to Read Together for more book lists.

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Want to take the lessons further on this important subject? 
Order the DGT™ Kindness Curriculum which uses stories and discussions to empower kids to help!

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