Books About Homelessness

Books About Homelessness

Preschool - Kindergarten

"McDuff Moves In" by Rosemary Wells
Babies will enjoy pictures of the precious pup, and preschoolers who have experienced homelessness will relate to what it's like to be unable to find a place of comfort to call home.

Kindergarten - 2nd Grade

"Changing Places: A Kid's View of Shelter Living" by Judy Wallace
Several children share their experience of shelter life. With this book, all children can see how the wants and needs of every person are not that different.

"Fly Away Home" by Eve Bunting
A little boy who lives in an airport with his father feels the unfairness of homelessness. He also holds onto the hope that he will one day fly free to something better.

"Go Home: The True Story of James the Cat" by Libby Philips Megis
The author shares with us the true story of how James the Cat came to live with her. His saga of homelessness, despair, and eventual love and belonging will resonate with everyone.

"Home is Where We Live: Life at a Shelter Through a Young Girl's Eyes" by Jane Hertensten
Black and white photographs provide insight into shelter life in Chicago. A 10 year-old girl who has just arrived shares her impressions.

"Homeless" by B. Wolf
This photo essay is a more upbeat look at the life of one homeless family in New York. 8 year-old Mikey provides the narration.

"Lives Turned Upside Down: Homeless Children in Their Own Words and Photographs" by Jim Hubbard
Children at a mission church in Santa Monica, California, participate in the Shooting Back Program. Four children with cameras reveal what their world is like.

3rd Grade & Up

"A Shelter in Our Car" by Monica Gunning
A girl from Jamaica lives with her mother in their car after the child’s father dies. She is able to explain how circumstances can put ordinary people in difficult situations. She is also able to share the pain of what they endure, including at the hands of others who don’t understand.

"How Many Days to America" by Eve Bunting
A close-knit family is suddenly homeless when they are forced to flee their home. Political unrest in their beloved homeland requires them to abandon all they know and love and seek asylum elsewhere. Readers’ hearts will rise and fall with the fate of this family, which finally finds refuge and hope.

Junior Fiction & Young Adult

"A Single Shard" by Linda Sue Park
An orphaned boy who lives under a bridge with the homeless man who took him in becomes the unlikely hero in this riveting tale. Integrity, discipline, resilience and hard work are some of the traits depicted in this Newbery winner.

"The Family Under the Bridge" by Natalie Savage Carlson
A Parisian family is thrust into homelessness and must endure the wrath of the homeless man who already lives under the bridge. The journey to new understandings is worth the trip for readers. This is best used as a read-aloud for those comfortable with French pronunciations.

"Hoot" by Carl Hiaasen
Life becomes an adventure for the new boy at school when he has a close encounter with “running boy”. The running boy turns out to be a runaway on an environmental mission. This is a respected literary work that features a homeless kid as the hero of the story.

For Parents

"Parenting in Public" by Donna Haig Friedman
When a family receives any kind of public assistance, the parenting practices come under scrutiny. This is true everywhere in America. The book can promot discussion about what constitutes good parenting, what are the challenges, whose business is it how we parent, and why do others care?

"Rachel and Her Children: Homeless Families in America" by Jonathan Kozol
Since homelessness is increasingly a family problem, we experience it vicariously through the story of Rachel’s family. The Martinique Hotel in New York provides the setting.

"Tell Them Who I Am: The Lives of Homeless Women" by Elliot Liebow
As more and more women become homeless, Liebow attempts to put faces on the faceless. We develop a personal relationship with these women whose stories he chronicles here.

For Professionals

"A Framework for Understanding Poverty" by Ruby Payne
This is must-reading for anyone who works with the poor, especially with those from generational poverty. It may also provide excellent discussion material for the clients we serve when handled correctly.

"How to Increase Homelessness" by Joel John Roberts
Along the lines of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal, Roberts ventures boldly into what has become a taboo topic in many quarters. Why are so many people homeless and what can and should be done? These are questions explored with sarcasm, humor, and ultimately…with unflinching honesty.

For more books about family homelessness, visit the Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness.  Our personal favorite is "Mango's Quest" by Ralph Da Costa Nunez  and Robyn Schwartz.

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