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Children’s Book Recommendations:

Voices of those Experiencing Poverty and Homelessness


Almost Home By Joan Bauer – “Sixth-grader Sugar and her mother lose their beloved house and experience the harsh world of homelessness.”

Becoming Naomi León by Pam Muñoz Ryan – “When Naomi’s absent mother resurfaces to claim her, Naomi runs away to Mexico with her great-grandmother and younger brother in search of her father.”

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatramen – “Life is harsh in Chennai’s teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter–and friendship–on an abandoned bridge.”

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate – “A story about a homeless boy and his imaginary friend that proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.”

The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner – “Believing his long-absent father is missing and leaving clues behind through geocaching, Zig, 13, relies on his love of electronics, a garage sale GPS unit, and his best friend, Gianna, to search for answers.”

Free Lunch by Rex Ogle – Free Lunch is the story of Rex Ogle’s first semester in sixth grade. Rex and his baby brother often went hungry, wore secondhand clothes, and were short of school supplies, and Rex was on his school’s free lunch program. Grounded in the immediacy of physical hunger and the humiliation of having to announce it every day in the school lunch line, Rex’s is a compelling story of a more profound hunger — that of a child for his parents’ love and care.” 

The Great Jeff by Tony Abbott (tween) – “13-year-old Jeff’s life spirals downward into homelessness after his alcoholic mother loses her job.”

Hold Fast by Blue Balliett – “On a cold winter day in Chicago, Early’s father disappeared, and now she, her mother and her brother have been forced to flee their apartment and join the ranks of the homeless–and it is up to Early to hold her family together and solve the mystery surrounding her father.”

How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O’Connor – “Living in the family car in their small North Carolina town after their father leaves them virtually penniless, Georgina, desperate to improve their situation and unwilling to accept her overworked mother’s calls for patience, persuades her younger brother to help her in an elaborate scheme to get money by stealing a dog and then claiming the reward that the owners are bound to offer.”

The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly – “Abandoned by their father and living in poverty with their heartless stepmother in Louisiana, two sisters from the Philippines, 12-year-old Sol and 6-year-old Ming, learn the true meaning of family.”

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo – “Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, twelve-year-old Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and her eccentric grandmother) and find a way home.”

No-Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen-Fernlund – “12-year-old Felix’s appearance on a television game show reveals that he and his mother have been homeless for a while, but also restores some of his faith in other people.”

One Good Thing About America by Ruth Freeman – “Anais, who has recently emigrated from Africa to Maine with her mother and young brother, copes with acclimating herself to a new country, understanding American culture, learning English, figuring out how to fit in at school, and moving from motel to shelter and finally to a permanent apartment.”

Paper Things by Jennifer Jacobson – “When forced to choose between staying with her guardian and being with her big brother, Ari chose her big brother. There’s just one problem-Gage doesn’t actually have a place to live.”

You May Already be a Winner by Ann Dee Ellis – “12-year-old Olivia endeavors to care for her younger sister, possibly make a new friend in the quirky and secretive Bart, and keep hope alive for her, her family, and her community of idiosyncratic neighbors at Sunny Pines Trailer Park.”

Picture Books

A Bike Like Sergio’s by Maribeth Boelts – “Finders keepers, right? When Ruben picks up someone’s lost money, he finds out how hard it can be to do the right thing.”

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson – “Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya.”

Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt – “Maddi’s fridge is almost empty, while Sophia’s fridge is full of food. How can Sophia help her friend Maddi without breaking her promise not to tell anyone?”

The One Day House by Julia Durango – “A little boy promises his beloved friend, an elderly lady, that one day he will fix up her old house–and his words inspire the other people in the neighborhood to pitch in and get it done.”

The One with the Scraggly Beard by Elizabeth Withey – “A child tries to understand the life of a man he has seen sleeping under a bridge. The boy’s mother patiently answers his questions and explains how people’s life paths can be so different.”

Pablo Finds a Treasure by Andree Poulin – Pablo and his sister spend every day at ‘Treasure Mountain,’ the local dump. They rummage through the mounds of garbage looking for items that their mother can sell in order to provide food for the family.”

Still a Family by Brenda Reeves Sturgis – “Despite living in separate shelters, a little girl and her parents find time to be together, demonstrating that even in the most trying of times they are still a loving and committed family.”

What Is Given from the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack – “Despite their own poverty since Daddy died, Mama tells nine-year-old James Otis they need to help Sarah, whose family lost everything in a fire.”