These Childrens Books about Homelessness and Poverty will help shine a light on the issue and help you have a more meaningful discussion with your child – no matter their age.
Be sure to check out our other book lists for kids!
You can find these children’s books about homelessness and poverty at your local library or through the affiliate links provided for your convenience.
Facts about Homelessness and Poverty
Every year 2.5 million children experience homelessness in the United States. That’s almost the entire population of Chicago!
People in families with children make up 30 percent of the homeless population in the U.S.
The official poverty rate in the U.S. for 2021 was 11.6 percent, with 37.9 million people in poverty.
Childrens Books about Homelessness and Poverty
International Literacy Association’s 2021 Social Justice Literature Award
This realistic—and hopeful—story of food insecurity builds awareness of the issue of childhood hunger, increases empathy for people who are food insecure, and demonstrates how anyone can help end hunger. Lulu and the Hunger Monster™ empowers children to destigmatize the issue of hunger before the feeling turns into shame.
A homeless boy who lives in an airport with his father, moving from terminal to terminal trying not to be noticed, is given hope when a trapped bird finally finds its freedom.
The Coat offers a glimpse at the hardships confronting those who are experiencing homelessness, inspiring us to treat them with compassion and respect.
All Elise has really wanted is this coat and she’s been waiting forever. When will the coat be hers?
Then, a chance encounter changes everything, revealing that the pleasure that comes from belongings (even the perfect ones!) is no match for the joy of helping others.
Told with honesty and respect, this timely story shines a perceptive light on current social concerns. Readers will be encouraged to think beyond themselves and celebrate the simple acts of kindness and sharing that make a difference in people's lives.
As Tim ponders how he might earn money for a skateboard, he hears The Can Man down the street collecting empty soft drink cans. The clang of the cans in the homeless man's cart gives Tim an idea. He will collect cans too, and cash them in for the redemption money. By the end of the week, Tim has almost reached his goal--until a couple of chance encounters with The Can Man change everything.
Eliza Wheeler's gorgeously illustrated book tells the story of what happens when six-year-old Marvel, her seven siblings, and their mom must start all over again after their father has died.
Deep in the woods of Wisconsin they find a tar-paper shack. It doesn't seem like much of a home, but they soon start seeing what it could be.
Chicago Public Library Best Picture Books of 2021 * Parents Magazine October 2021 Book of the Month
A sensitive story about food insecurity.Molly and her mom don't always have enough food, so one Saturday they visit their local food pantry. Molly's happy to get food to eat until she sees her classmate Caitlin, who's embarrassed to be at the food pantry. Can Molly help Caitlin realize that everyone needs help sometimes?
When Kip Tiernan was growing up during the Great Depression, she’d help her granny feed the men who came to their door asking for help. As Kip grew older, and as she continued to serve food to hungry people, she noticed something peculiar: huddled at the back of serving lines were women dressed as men.
At the time, it was believed that there were no women experiencing homelessness. And yet Kip would see women sleeping on park benches and searching for food in trash cans. Kip decided to open the first shelter for women—a shelter with no questions asked, no required chores, just good meals and warm beds.
Four Feet, Two Sandals was inspired by a refugee girl who asked the authors why there were no books about children like her.
With warm colors and sensitive brush strokes, this book portrays the strength, courage, and hope of refugees around the world, whose daily existence is marked by uncertainty and fear.
Vera Williams tells of a young girl who, along with her waitress mother, saves coins in a big jar in hopes that they can someday buy a new chair for their apartment, the kind of chair her mother deserves after being on her feet all day in the Blue Tile Diner. Into the jar also goes the money Grandma saves whenever she gets a bargain at the market.
There hasn't been a comfortable place to sit in the apartment since a fire in their previous apartment burned everything to "charcoal and ashes."
When Lydia was five years old, she and her family had to leave their home. They hopped from Grandma's house to Aunt Linda's house to Cousin Alice's house, but no place was permanent. Then one day, everything changed. Lydia's mom took her to a new place ― not a house, but a big building with stone columns, and tall, tall steps. The library.
All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for "want," just "need," when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small.
But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.
A thought-provoking story that encourages us all to sit up and take notice.
Nobody notices the queen on the corner. Nobody, that is except one young girl. Through her eyes, the woman who dwells in the abandoned plot is a warrior queen, with many battles fought and won.
When, one day, danger comes to the street and the queen on the corner sounds the alarm, the little girl must find a way to thank her. Can she bring the community together to turn the queen's corner into a home?
Gold medal winner, 2018 IPPY Awards * Gold Medal Winner, 2017 Foreword INDIES Awards * Gold Medal winner, Mom's Choice Awards
She is “invisible” to everyone around her except one boy.
Homelessness is a problem that is both very visible and, in many ways, invisible. I See You is a wordless picture book that depicts a homeless woman who is not seen by everyone around her — except for a little boy.
Over the course of a year, the boy is witness to all that she endures. Ultimately, in a gesture of compassion, the boy acknowledges her in an exchange in which he sees her and she experiences being seen.
2014 Christopher Award * Books for Young People 2014 * ILA Primary Fiction Award 2015 * MLA Mitten Award Honor * Human Rights in Children's Literature Honor
With humor and warmth, this children's picture book raises awareness about poverty and hunger. Filled with colorful artwork, this storybook addresses issues of poverty with honesty and sensitivity while instilling important lessons in friendship, empathy, trust, and helping others.
Best friends Sofia and Maddi live in the same neighborhood, go to the same school, and play in the same park, but while Sofia's fridge at home is full of nutritious food, the fridge at Maddi's house is empty.
Written with tenderness and poignancy and gorgeously illustrated, this book will show readers that kindness is always rewarding, understanding is sweeter than judgment, and friendship is the best gift one can give.
Adrian Simcox tells anyone who will listen that he has a horse--the best and most beautiful horse anywhere.But Chloe does NOT believe him. The more Adrian talks about his horse, the angrier Chloe gets. But when she calls him out at school and even complains about him to her mom, Chloe doesn't get the vindication she craves. She gets something far more important.
Country music legend Dolly Parton's rural upbringing in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee provides the backdrop for this special picture book.
Using lyrics from her classic song "Coat of Many Colors," the book tells the story of a young girl in need of a warm winter coat. When her mother sews her a coat made of rags, the girl is mocked by classmates for being poor.
Zettie and her Mama left their warm and comfortable home in Jamaica for an uncertain life in the United Sates. With Papa gone, Mama can't find a steady job that will sustain them and so they are forced to live in their car. But Mama's unwavering love, support, and gutsy determination give Zettie the confidence that, together, she and her mother can meet all challenges.
This simple, touching picture book shows readers a women’s shelter through the eyes of a young girl, who with her mother’s help, uses her imagination to overcome her anxiety and adjust.
The World Around Us series introduces children to complex cultural, social and environmental issues that they may encounter outside their homes, in a way that is accessible. Sidebars offer further reading for older children or care providers who have bigger questions.
For younger children just starting to make these observations, the simple question-and-answer format of the main text will provide a foundation of knowledge on the subject matter.
Gently told and powerfully illustrated in rich hues, The Lady in the Box deals candidly with the issue of homelessness.
It is wintertime in the city and freezing cold, but not everyone is inside and warm. Ben and his sister Lizzie know that there is a lady who lives outside in a box over a warm air vent. The children worry about the kind-looking lady, and begin sneaking food and clothes out of their apartment for her.
Jake and Maggy lived on a farm where they loved to sing and dance to the music from Mama's radio. Then terrible dust storms came and ruined the land. The family had no choice but to auction off the farm and make the long, hard journey west to California-away from the dust storms, where the land is still green.
Along the way, Papa tries to find work, and Jake and Maggy try to help too. But what if Papa can't find a job? What if California isn't better after all?
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