Sherman Alexie mentioned in a recent speech that "There isn’t a lot of poverty literature in the young-adult world." The Ya Ya Yas noted that, and mused about how class figured in (or didn't) in a recent book.
And, in true blogger fashion, that's inspired a list! There are already a few books in the comments; go and add some, if you can think of any.
Because here's the thing; while my first reaction was "oh of course there are" and my second was "well, he didn't say there wasn't any, just that there wasn't a lot", I do think poverty and economics is an area that isn't always explored in books. Please, go leave suggestions of books at the Ya Ya Ya post. And check out LW's post on books about social class.
As you think about titles, consider this.
If it's a family struggling in the past, is it really about class? Or is the message of the book, people starved back in Little House in the Prairie days, but not now? Or is the message, hardships happen with war, but once the war is over, it'll be OK?
I mention historical fiction type books, because as I began to think of titles I realized many of them were set in the past.
Why is it important for kids to read? I was speaking with a woman about Alexie's book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and she read it, and she was giving it to her teenage granddaughter to read. Why? Because it's a great book; and she also wanted her middle class granddaughter to know that being poor isn't about not having the newest iPod. If a child lives in an affluent suburb, books are one way for them to know that other people live different lives.
On the flip side, as I've mentioned in the past, I had a parent object to Because of Winn Dixie for her 10 year old because she didn't want her child to know that people lived in trailer parks. Note, please, as readers of Winn Dixie know, that it was simply a trailer park. All I can wonder is -- what will happen when this child meets someone who was raised in a trailer park? I find it troubling, especially when the same family had read all the Little House books. Poor in the past, OK. Poor now? Not OK.
Anyway, go over to the Ya Ya Ya's and share some titles!