Reading List

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Books are a valuable resource in the fight against hunger. Not only do they help one understand the issue from different angles, but empathy is developed for those experiencing hunger. The following book list has been developed by Second Harvest Food Bank to reach readers of all ages. For your convenience, the titles are linked to their corresponding page on


Elementary Level:

Maddi's Fridge by Lois Brandt
With humor and warmth, this children's picture book raises awareness about poverty and hunger. Best friends Sofia and Maddi live in the same neighborhood, go to the same school, and play in the same park.

Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn
It's Chinese New Year in Chinatown, and young Sam has four dollars of New Year money burning a hole in his pocket. As he and his mother are milling through the crowded streets — alive with firecrackers, lion dances, and shoppers — Sam accidentally steps on the foot of a homeless man who is buried in a pile of red paper. Flustered, Sam hurries back to his mother, and is soon distracted by the char siu bao and other sweets he might buy with his gift money. When he sees fish-tail cookies that remind him of toes, he remembers the old man again, and Sam starts to think of his "lucky money" in a new light.

Chicken Soup for Little Souls: The Braids Girl by Lisa McCourt
Izzy wants to be like Grandpa Mike and make people happy, but the results of Izzy's generosity toward the Braids Girl are not what she expected. What does the Braids Girl really want? Young readers will cheer for Izzy when she at last realizes that the need for love and acceptance is what lies deep in the hearts of us all, no matter our age, race, gender, or social standing. This story of compassion and revelation lovingly demonstrates that despite outward appearance, little souls are much more alike than they are different — and everyone has something of value to give.

Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen (Reading Rainbow Book) by Dyanne Disalvo-Ryan
A little boy becomes interested in the people who live on the streets of New York City as he takes a stroll through them. Fortunately for him, his Uncle Willie volunteers at a local soup kitchen where he can get to know more about the homeless. Uncle Willie helps his nephew learn about the issues of hunger and homelessness as they work together at the soup kitchen.

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
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.

The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings by Stan Berenstain
Come for a visit in Bear Country with this classic First Time Book from Stan and Jan Berenstain. A big storm is rolling through Bear Country! Brother and Sister are scared, but Papa and Mama help the cubs realize that they are all safe and that the whole family should count their blessings. This beloved story is a perfect way to teach children about all the things they should be grateful for.

Someplace to Go by Maria Testa
Davey describes how he spends his time after school trying to keep safe and warm until he can meet his mom and brother at the local shelter.

December by Eve Bunting
A homeless family's luck changes after they help an old woman who has even less than they do.

A Chance to Grow by E. Sandy Powell
Joe, his sister, and his mother are evicted from their apartment and are forced to live in shelters and on the streets.


Middle School Level:

The Double Life of Zoe Flynn by Janet Lee Carey
She used to live in California, in a big old house — the best house in the world really — at 18 Hawk Road. It rambled and creaked and was full of good hiding places. She used to have a best friend named Kellen who lived right down the road, and a dog named Merlin who loved to play with her. But now she lives in a little town in Oregon, and everything has changed.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth in Mexico to work in the labor camps of Southern California during the Great Depression.

Darnell Rock Reporting by Walter Dean Myers
Things change when Darnell joins the school paper and writes an editorial suggesting the school use its empty parking lot as a garden for the local homeless.

Leaves in October by Karen Ackerman
Nine year old Livvy tries to understand the turn of recent events that have occurred: her father loses his job, her mother leaves the family, and they are forced to live in a shelter.

Ivy: A Tale of a Homeless Girl in San Francisco by Summer Brenner
Ivy finds herself homeless on the streets of San Francisco when she and her father are evicted from his loft. They soon are living out doors because there are no adequate shelters for single fathers.


Young Adult and Adult Level:

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
Author Barbara Ehrenreich goes "undercover" by taking jobs normally held by the "working poor" to determine how hard is it really to get by in America. Her discovery will astound you.

The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David K. Shepler
Author David Shepler provides readers with a glimpse of the life of the "working poor" in America. Shepler not only dissects the issue affecting these individuals, but offers suggestions for change.

The New Poverty: Homeless Families in America by Ralph da Costa Nunez
The description of a family-based system of comprehensive residential, education, and employment centers as a response to poverty.


Books about Community Service:

The Kid's Guide to Service Projects: Over 500 Service Ideas for Young People Who Want to Make a Difference by Barbara A. Lewis and Pamela Espeland.
This book provides children a variety of topics and projects to help make a difference in their community.

160 Ways to Help the World: Community Service Projects for Young People by Linda Leeb Duper.
Using the motto, "Think globally, act locally," this book provides young adults with a variety of projects and volunteer opportunities.

Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul: Stories to Celebrate the Spirit of Courage, Caring, and Community by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Arline McGraw Oberst, John T. Boal, and Tom and Laura Lagana.
Inspiring stories of everyday people who want to make a difference in the lives of others.


Books about Advocacy:

The Kid's Guide to Social Action: How to Solve the Social Problems You Choose—and Turn Creative Thinking into Positive Action by Barbara A. Lewis, Pamela Espeland, and Caryn Perner.
This book provides youth (age 10 and up) with inspiring stories of youth who made a difference in their community by taking action and the tools to take action, including step-by-step instructions for writing letters, making speeches, conducting interviews, and much more!

Generation Fix: Young Ideas for a Better World by Elizabeth Rusch and Pamela Hobbs.
An anthology of true stories about youth taking action to making their community a better place.

Community Building: What Makes It Work: A Review of Factors Influencing Successful Community Builders by Paul Mattessich, and Barbara Monsey.
Twenty-eight suggestions on how to build your own community initiatives successfully. Includes examples, research and a detailed bibliography.