Books can be a source of great insight and understanding when examining hunger and poverty-related issues. The following list includes books for children, as well as some selections for adolescents and adults. We’ve also included a short listing of books on community service opportunities for young adults.

Books for Young Children

Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen

by Dyanne Disalvo-Ryan
A boy wonders about the people he sees on his city’s streets until he goes to the soup kitchen where his uncle works and spends a day volunteering.

The Lady in the Box

by Ann McGovern
Ben describes how he and his sister bring food to a homeless woman, despite their mother’s rules about not talking to strangers. Their mother catches on and helps them find ways to help homeless and hungry people in their neighborhood.

Books for Adolescents and Adults

Nickel and Dimed: On (not) getting by in America

by Barbara Ehrenreic
In order to fully understand the struggle that millions of working poor Americans face each day, Ehrenreich left her life as she knew it and joined the low-wage workforce. Ehrenreich’s journey of trying to survive with poverty-level wages challenges the concepts of prosperity and hardship in America.

Children of Welfare

by Joan J. Johnson, Suzanne M. Coil
This examination of welfare focuses not on the politics of federal assistance but on people caught in the safety net. It is an evenhanded assessment that combines statistics with vivid anecdotes from recipients who see monthly checks or Food Stamps as a new start in life, as well as those who see it as a way of life.

For Hunger Proof Cities

edited by Mustafa Koc, Rod MacRae, Luc J.A. Mougeot & Jennifer Welsh
This book examines the current food system in urban environments, encouraging the creation of a sustainable, community-supported agricultural system; offering suggestions to increase food availability and accessibility; and providing solutions to alleviate hunger.

The Working Poor: Invisible in America

by David Shipler
Shipler draws upon personal accounts of the working poor to explain the complex forces which prevent Americans from rising above the poverty line despite working full time.

Black Boy (American Hunger): A Record of Childhood and Youth

by Richard Wright
Black Boy is an enduring story of Richard Wright’s journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South.

Books About Serving Your Community

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, Caryn Pernu
This award-winning guide includes everything kids need to make a difference in the world, from inspiring true stories to fill-out forms and up-to-date resources.

It’s Our World, Too!: Stories of Young People Who Are Making a Difference

by Phillip Hoose
This book includes 14 fascinating accounts of children working for human rights, the needy, the environment, or world peace. It is also a handbook for young activists, with practical suggestions for planning, organizing, publicizing, and raising funds for social action projects.

The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects: Over 500 Service Ideas for Young People Who Want to Make a Difference

by Barbara A. Lewis, Pamela Espeland
This guide has something for everyone who wants to make a difference, from simple projects to large-scale commitments. Kids can choose from a variety of topics, including animals, crime fighting, the environment, friendship, hunger, literacy, politics and government, and transformation.

*This reading list was provided by courtesy of the San Francisco Food Bank.