As kids get older, they want to better understand their world. These chapter Books about Poverty and Homelessness will help kids start to understand the social issues around poverty and being unhoused.
In this book list, we have included books that aim to promote awareness of these issues and encourage readers to develop empathy and understanding towards those who are less fortunate.
Be sure to check out even more terrific middle school book list ideas!
You can find these chapter books about poverty and homelessness for kids in late elementary to middle school at your local library or through the affiliate links provided for your convenience.
Poverty and homelessness are significant issues that affect many individuals and families worldwide.
While it is a complex topic, it is essential to teach children about these issues and the struggles of those who face them.
Middle school is a crucial age for children as they begin to develop a more profound understanding of the world around them.
It is an age when children begin to develop empathy and compassion towards others.
Books can be an excellent tool for helping them to gain an understanding of what people living in poverty or experiencing homelessness might face on a daily basis.
Teaching about Homelessness
According to the 1994 McKinney Act, a person is considered homeless if they do not have a permanent residence and/or if their nighttime residence is a shelter or a government run facility.
You can use this fact sheet and lesson plan for children 6th to 8th grade.
Also read about these five facts every educator needs to know about child and youth homelessness and action steps for supporting students as they return to the classroom.
Chapter Books about Poverty and Homelessness
Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There's no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.
Crenshaw is a cat. He's large, he's outspoken, and he's imaginary. He has come back into Jackson's life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?
Told in an open, authentic voice, this nuanced story of hiding in plain sight may have readers thinking about homelessness in a whole new way.
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.
2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year
Georgina Hayes is desperate. Ever since her father left and they were evicted from their apartment, her family has been living in their car.
When Georgina spots a missing-dog poster with a reward of five hundred dollars, the solution to all her problems suddenly seems within reach. All she has to do is "borrow" the right dog and its owners are sure to offer a reward. What happens next is the last thing she expected.
Newbery Honor Book
To Janey Larkin, the blue willow plate was the most beautiful thing in her life, a symbol of the home she could only dimly remember. Now that her father was an itinerant worker, Janey didn't have a home she could call her own or any real friends, as her family had to keep moving, following the crops from farm to farm.
Someday, Janey promised the willow plate, with its picture of a real house, her family would once again be able to set down roots in a community.
The young readers edition of an unbelievable memoir about an unlikely friendship that forever changed the lives of a busy sales executive and a hungry eleven-year-old boy.
An Invisible Thread is the true story of the bond between an eleven-year-old boy and a busy sales executive; a heartwarming journey of hope, kindness, adventure, and love—and the power of fate to help us find our way.
Winner of the 2020 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award
Free Lunch is the story of Rex’s efforts to navigate his first semester of sixth grade ― who to sit with, not being able to join the football team, Halloween in a handmade costume, classmates and a teacher who take one look at him and decide he’s trouble ― all while wearing secondhand clothes and being hungry.
His mom and her boyfriend are out of work, and life at home is punctuated by outbursts of violence. Halfway through the semester, his family is evicted and ends up in government-subsidized housing in view of the school.
Minni lives in the poorest part of Mumbai, where access to water is limited to a few hours a day and the communal taps have long lines. Lately, though, even that access is threatened by severe water shortages and thieves who are stealing this precious commodity — an act that Minni accidentally witnesses one night.
Meanwhile, in the high-rise building where she just started to work, she discovers that water streams out of every faucet and there’s even a rooftop swimming pool. What Minni also discovers there is one of the water mafia bosses. Now she must decide whether to expose him and risk her job and maybe her life. How did something as simple as access to water get so complicated?
Sandlot meets Esperanza Rising in this lyrical middle grade novel set in the 1930s about a strong-willed girl who finds her voice in a tale of moxie, peaches, and determination to thrive despite the odds.
When the skies dried up, Gloria thought it was temporary. When the dust storms rolled in, she thought they would pass. But now the bank man’s come to take the family farm, and Pa’s decided to up and move to California in search of work. They’ll pick fruit, he says, until they can save up enough money to buy land of their own again.
Red’s inexplicable power over the wind comes from her mother. Whenever Ruby “Red” Byrd is scared or angry, the wind picks up. And being placed in foster care, moving from family to family, tends to keep her skies stormy. Red knows she has to learn to control it, but can’t figure out how.
Just when Red starts to settle into her new life, a fresh storm rolls in, one she knows all too well: her mother. For so long, Red has longed to have her mom back in her life, and she’s quickly swept up in the vortex of her mother’s chaos.
Award-winning author Linda Williams Jackson pulls from her own childhood in the Mississippi Delta to tell the story of Ellis Earl, who dreams of a real house, food enough for the whole family—and to be someone.
2021 Newbery Honor Book
Set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, Christina Soontornvat’s twist on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is a dazzling, fast-paced adventure that explores the difference between law and justice — and asks whether one child can shine a light in the dark.
Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, escapes and realizes that the world outside is no fairer than the one behind bars. The wealthy dine and dance under bright orb light, while the poor toil away in darkness. Worst of all, Pong’s prison tattoo marks him as a fugitive who can never be truly free.
Pura Belpré Award Winner * IRA Notable Book for a Global Society
Esperanza thought she'd always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico -- she'd always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to 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--Mama's life, and her own, depend on it.
The author of the award-winning The Bridge Home brings readers another gripping novel set in Chennai, India, featuring a boy who's unexpectedly released into the world after spending his whole life in jail with his mom.
One day a new warden arrives and announces Kabir is too old to stay. He gets handed over to a long-lost "uncle" who unfortunately turns out to be a fraud, and intends to sell Kabir. So Kabir does the only thing he can--run away as fast as his legs will take him.
How does a boy with nowhere to go and no connections make his way? Fortunately, he befriends Rani, another street kid, and she takes him under her wing. But plotting their next move is hard -- and fraught with danger -- in a world that cares little for homeless, low caste children.
Set in both the wilds and slums of Kenya, a powerful story about a brother and sister's brave journey to find a place to call home.
Sudden political violence has killed their father and destroyed their home. Now, Muchoki, Jata, and their ailing mother live in a tent in an overcrowded refugee camp.
By day, they try to fend off hunger and boredom. By night, their fears about the future are harder to keep at bay. Driven by both hope and desperation, Muchoki and Jata set off on what seems like an impossible journey: to walk hundreds of kilometers to find their last remaining family.
Armand, an old man living on the streets of Paris, relishes his solitary life in the beautiful city. He is happy with his carefree existence, begging and doing odd jobs to keep himself warm and fed. With simple pleasures and no cares, what more could he need?
Then one day just before Christmas, Armand returns to his favorite spot beneath the bridge to find three cold and hungry children. Although he has no interest in children, Armand soon finds himself caring for the small family. It does not take Armand very long to realize that he must do whatever it takes to get them a real home.
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