Graduate Research Papers


Open Access Graduate Research Paper


Poverty in literature; Homelessness in literature; Children's literature;


Units taught in social studies and language arts that address family issues, neighborhoods, communities, economic diversity, and social issues need to address the struggles, challenges, and fears of children living in poverty or who are homeless. Depictions of poverty and homelessness should be handled with accuracy and sensitivity. Connections made through the use of literature can help all students develop an understanding about the world around them and help them begin to realize the struggles of those who live in poverty.

This study of K-6 nonfiction books about poverty and homelessness investigated how these social problems were depicted in the literature as well as whether the depictions of poverty and homelessness were accurate and sensitive. The 15­-book sample was analyzed to determine the number of characteristics of poverty that were discussed in text and portrayed in the illustrations. It was found that current demographics of poverty were depicted throughout a majority of the books analyzed. Characteristics of poverty have been well researched, and the authors of the nonfiction books analyzed were careful to address the issues accurately. Furthermore, poverty and homelessness were depicted in a manner consistent with the characteristics put forth by organizations like The World Bank (2009) and UNESCO (n.d.).

One major outcome of the study is a list of current, high quality nonfiction books about poverty and homelessness for K­6 students. However, only five of the fifteen books could be found in local elementary school libraries. The others were either housed in middle schools or universities thereby making them inaccessible to an elementary audience. Having a current list of these works will assist elementary school librarians in building their collections.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Curriculum and Instruction


Division of School Library Studies

Date Original


Object Description

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