Happy Readers Help Out: 3 Books on Homelessness

Today we're continuing our discussion on homelessness.  Check out our tips for talking about homelessness with your kids.  To reinforce the ideas you and your kids talk about, try reading these books about homelessness.  All are available to check out from the Eugene Public Library and/or to buy off Amazon.  If you do decide to buy off Amazon, please use Amazon Smile and pick Little Hands Can as your charity of choice; won't cost you any extra but it will help us.

A Shelter in Our Car by Monica Gunning

Zettie and her mom sleep in their car and are constantly on the move to avoid police attention.  

This book deals with how they got into this situation, how they live at the moment, and all that her mom is trying to do to make things better.  

It has a happy ending and some important last words, “...with or without an apartment, I’ve got Mama and she’s got me.”  It’s a great eye opener for kids since it’s coming from the viewpoint of a kid and is a great reminder to be kind to everyone.  

Mr. Bowtie by Karen Barbour

A homeless man, nicknamed Mr Bowtie since he always wears a bowtie, sleeps outside a family’s store.  One day the dad gives Mr Bowtie lunch and in return Mr Bowtie sweeps the sidewalk in front of the store. Mr Bowtie begins to do more service for the store and the family continues to feed him.  Eventually, the family finds out what Mr Bowtie’s real name is and writes a letter to his parents.  The family gets Mr Bowtie all ready for a happy reunion with his parents.

I love that this book addresses 2 key issues in homelessness, mental health and lack of support system.  Mr Bowtie doesn’t say a word until the last page of the book, gently suggesting some sort of mental health issue that can lead to a great chat with your kids as they become curious about Mr Bowtie.  Also, his parents didn’t know where he was nor did he know where his parents were so he was on his own, like many homeless people.  Add the idea that the family reaches out to Mr Bowtie in genuine kindness and later in friendship and you’ve got three great talking points for you and your kids in one great book.

The Braids Girl by Lisa McCourt

This is a new favorite just because it teaches so naturally such an important lesson about service.  Izzy is invited by her Grandpa Mike to go volunteer at a shelter he volunteers at regularly.  Izzy notices how nice he is to all the people there and how fancy he makes the meal feel as he serves everyone their food.  

Izzy notices a girl about her age and Grandpa Mike encourages her to bring her a bowl of soup and then chat with her.  Izzy delivers the soup but then is too shy to stay and walks quickly back to her grandpa.  Izzy tries twice to collect her nicest old clothes and then some cherished toys and belongings but every time she delivers them to the girl, the girl just looks sadder.  

Grandpa Mike reminds her that maybe what she needs most aren’t items at all.  Finally, Grandpa Mike suggests that Izzy learn her name.  Izzy goes to the girl and asks her name and they end up playing together for the rest of the morning.  Izzy learns that her new friend is “a regular kid, just like me” 

Happy reading! 

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