Starting to understand poverty

In this informative picture book which introduces young children to issues such as poverty and homelessness, three fictional children are told they’ll meet many different people in varying circumstances – some happy, some not – on the streets where they live. The children are encouraged to ask questions when they don’t understand the ways in which other people live.

When the children venture outdoors, they encounter a homeless man, and ask, “Why would he sleep outside?” One question leads to another: “what is it like to live on the streets?” “Why do people have to sleep on the street?” and “Are there children who are homeless?”

The three children learn that homelessness has many causes: poverty, mental illness, physical disabilities, natural disasters, abuse, neglect, war and dislocation. The children also discover ways in which they can combat homelessness.

Sidebars to the story offer clear, age-sensitive definitions for terms like poverty, mental illness, refugee, orphan, and essential services, as well as information about UNICEF, children’s help hotlines, and Boys and Girls Clubs.

Child psychologist Dr. Jillian Roberts and Google’s educational evangelist, Jaime Casap – who grew up in poverty and realized that “people tend to correlate poverty with low ability and intelligence” – have collaborated to create an excellent resource for parents, caregivers, church ministry staff and volunteers, school teachers, and anyone else who works with children. 

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