Best Children's Books About Homelessness

10 Children's Books About Homelessness

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
Laika the Astronaut book
#1
Laika the Astronaut
Written and illustrated by Owen Davey
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-5

Laika is a homeless stray living on the streets of Moscow when she is picked by the space programme to be the first ever animal launched into orbit However, her rocket disappears and everyone thinks Laika is lost forever - no one knows what happened to her. In Owen Davey's imaginative story you discover that Laika was rescued by a loving new owner and found her true home on a planet far, far away.

Two Roads book
#2
Two Roads
Written by Joseph Bruchac
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

In 1932, twelve-year-old Cal must stop being a hobo with his father and go to a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, where he begins learning about his history and heritage as a Creek Indian.

The Clown of God book
#3
The Clown of God
Written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This beautiful new edition of Tomie dePaola’s 1978 classic retelling of a French legend stars a little juggler whose unique talent leads him to what might be a Christmas miracle. Little Giovanni is poor and homeless, but he can do something wonderful: he can juggle. The people of Sorrento marvel at his talents, and before long, he becomes famous throughout Italy for his rainbow of colored balls that delight the nobility and townspeople alike. But as the years pass, Giovanni grows old, and his talents begin to fail him. No longer a celebrated performer, he is once again poor and homeless, begging for his food. Until one Christmas Eve, when Giovanni picks up his rainbow of colored balls once more. And what happens next just might be a miracle…

Outside In book
#4
Outside In
Written and illustrated by Jennifer Bradbury
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

“A compassionate story of homelessness and friendship, recycled art and community.” —Kirkus Reviews A twelve-year-old boy living on the streets of Chandigarh, India, stumbles across a secret garden full of sculptures and sees the possibility of another way of life as he bonds with the man who is creating the garden in this searingly beautiful novel—based on a true story. Twelve-year-old Ram is a street boy living behind a sign on a building’s rooftop, barely scraping by, winning games of gilli for money, occasionally given morsels of food through the kindness of Mr. Singh, a professor and father of his friend Daya. But his prowess at gilli (an outdoor game similar to cricket) is what gets him into big trouble. One day, when he wins against some schoolboys fair and square, the boys are infuriated. As they chase Ram across town, he flings his small sack of money over a factory gate where no one can get it, and disappears into the alleyways. But someone does get the money, Ram discovers when he sneaks back later on to rescue what is his—a strange-ish man on a bike who also seems to be collecting…rocks? Ram follows the man into the jungle, where he finds something unlike anything he’s seen—statues, hundreds of statues…no, thousands of them! Gods and goddesses and buildings, all at half scale. What is this place? It seems that the rock collecting man, Nek, has built them all! When Nek discovers that Ram has followed him, he has no choice but to let the boy stay and earn back the money Nek has already spent. How else can he keep him quiet? For his creations lie on land that isn’t technically his to build on. As Ram and Nek hesitantly become friends, Ram learns the true nature of this hidden village in the jungle, as well as the stories of Shiva and Lord Rama, stories of gods and goddesses that in strange ways seem to parallel Ram’s…and Nek’s. Based on the true story of one of India’s most beloved artists and modern day folk heroes, Nek Chand was a real man—a man displaced from his home in the midst of war and conflict; a man who missed his home so terribly he illegally reconstructed his entire village in miniature out of found objects and rock, recreating mosaic statues and sculptures spanning acres of jungle. Though Ram is a fictionalized character, Nek’s artwork is real. Intertwined with mythology and the sociopolitics of India, this is an exquisitely wrought, unexpected, and singular tale about the connection of community and how art can help make us human.

Dorothea Lange book
#5
Dorothea Lange
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Sarah Green
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Before she raised her lens to take her most iconic photo, Dorothea Lange took photos of the downtrodden from bankers in once-fine suits waiting in breadlines, to former slaves, to the homeless sleeping on sidewalks. A case of polio had left her with a limp and sympathetic to those less fortunate. Traveling across the United States, documenting with her camera and her fieldbook those most affected by the stock market crash, she found the face of the Great Depression. In this picture book biography, Carole Boston Weatherford with her lyrical prose captures the spirit of the influential photographer.

On Our Street book
#6
On Our Street
Written by Jaime Casap, Jillian Roberts and illustrated by Jane Heinrichs
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A gentle introduction to the issue of poverty, On Our Street explores the realities of people living with inadequate resources. Using age-appropriate language, this book addresses mental illness, homelessness and refugee status as they are connected to this issue. Insightful quotes from individuals and organizations such as unicef are included to add further perspective on the issue. A section on how kids can help empowers readers to take what they have learned and use it to make a difference. Child psychologist Dr. Jillian Roberts created this series to guide parents/caregivers through conversations about difficult issues in a reassuring and hopeful manner and help children understand their expanding awareness of the world around them.

Stinker book
#7
Stinker
Written by David Zeltser and illustrated by Julia Patton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Stinker is a puppy stuck in the pound. He's playful and loving and wants more than anything to be adopted. Unfortunately, little Stinker is always making big smells. As family after family return the ever-patient pooch back to the shelter, even he begins to lose hope. That is, until Stinker meets a snarky tomcat who can wriggle his way out of any situation. Together they stage a great escape in order to find just the right home, where Stinker will be loved in spite of his smells.

The Last Chip book
#8
The Last Chip
Written and illustrated by Duncan Beedie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Percy is a little pigeon, and he's very hungry. Life on the streets is tough, and every time he tries to get hold of a scrap of food, bigger, beefier birds bat him away. He's about to give up when someone offers him her very last chip. A moving and uplifting story about struggle against adversity and the kindness of strangers.

Windfall book
#9
Windfall
Written by Sara Cassidy
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Life is full of challenges for thirteen-year-old Liza. She is already having trouble coping with the death of a local homeless man when she learns that her family's apple tree will need to be chopped down. If that wasn't enough, the new principal at school keeps blocking her attempts for a positive outlet by refusing permission for every project that GRRR! (Girls for Renewable Resources, Really!) and BRRR! (Boys for Renewable Resources, Really!) proposes. Liza starts to feel like she needs to create change in her world without seeking permission. When she chooses the school grounds as the site for her latest endeavor, she may have gone too far.

Monty and the Poodles book
#10
Monty and the Poodles
Written and illustrated by Katie Harnett
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Forget Oliver Twist and Annie, Monty the orphan pooch will steal your heart and give you hope for an inclusive world. Forget Oliver Twist and Annie, Monty the orphan pooch will steal your heart and give you hope for an inclusive world! Monty is a scruffy, homeless pooch with a taste for fine art, and Ginger is a poodle who doesn't mind getting her paws a bit dirty. Monty and the poodles long to live together at the warm and cozy Poodle Mansion, but its strict poodles-only policy is rather inconvenient and so these crafty canines decide to create their own home where all are welcome!

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.