Working Class Families in Books for Kids

My librarian friend and sometimes commenter on this blog (Venta, I’m talkin’ about you) have talked often about how rare it is to find literature for children and young adults that includes poor or working class characters that are neither victims nor on the inevitable road to self-improvement.

So, much gratitude to Stephanie Jones who is on the hunt for exactly such books and seems to be hitting paydirt.

Is there other such  literature out there to be found?

8 thoughts on “Working Class Families in Books for Kids

  1. Elizabeth July 22, 2008 / 6:08 am

    For younger kids, A Chair for my Mother by Vera Williams is explicitly about money. Ezra Jack Keats’ stories are always good. The original Corduroy books (not the newer ones based on the character) show a girl who isn’t so poor that she can’t buy a bear with her savings, but her family lives in a 4th floor walkup and uses the laundromat.

  2. Rosa July 22, 2008 / 7:16 am

    This is a picture book I love – I read it at our library but for some reason it’s not in the catalog.
    Pink, by Nan Gregory and Luc Melanson

    It’s about envy, and limite. The little girl saves up for a doll she wants, but someone else buys it first. Her parents give her things they can afford, instead, and talk about how it feels to want what you can’t have. And there are a lot of little digs at the “American Doll” kind of ideal – the store where the doll is, is called “for the fortunate child”.

    reviewed at publisher’s weekly site:
    http://www.publishersweekly.com/blog/660000266/post/1870010787.html

  3. Venta July 22, 2008 / 3:26 pm

    Hey, Jane! I’m looking out for those children’s and young adult books that deal with class issues. Three books for those in middle school and high school are

    Dairy Queen: A Novel by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. This is the story of two kids, one the son of wealthy parents and the other the daughter of parents trying to keep their farm going. This is not only a touching story of friendship, it also explores how teenagers navigate class differences.

    The Noah Confessions by Barbara Hall. Although it is expected in her high school that sixteen year olds get a new car on their birthdays, Lynnie receives a manuscript written by her deceased mother. In it she reads about her parents’ families’ secrets and customs including the class differences that tried to keep them apart.

    Another Kind of Cowboy by Susan Juby. A sensitive story about two teenagers who love horses. One is a spoiled girl who wants to be with Alex. Alex not only has to keep his family’s lifestyle a secret (his father is an alcoholic who lives in an RV parked in the driveway), Alex is also gay. The experiences of these two teenagers and their families are brilliantly explored.

    Thanks for bringing this topic to your blog, Jane. I’m always looking and reading.

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