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With all the talk about diverse children's book, one aspect in German kids' books gets sometimes a little forgotten: financial hardship or poverty. Most of the time the families are so well off, that money is not even mentioned. (In the past, 70ies and 80ies this was much more common.). However, children are well aware of money issues. My kids have questions about money, the homeless, shelters. Your children might ask about why some kid in the class don't have the same gadgets or clothes or never invite people to their places. And let's be honest: loosing a job and to have to tighten the belt is something that can affect most of us. So here some great books that help address these questions, normalize financial hardship and also make your child more compassionate.

Julia Donaldson / Axel Scheffler


Grannie Agathe lives in a small house, too small in her view. So she goes to a wise man and asks for help. Rather surprisingly he suggests to bring her chicken in. Now her house seems smaller still, and more chaotic. Next he tells her to bring her goat. And then her pig. And her cow. And with every additional animal, the house gets smaller and a bigger mess...

A super fun story by the successful Gruffelo Duo Donaldson Scheffler, on a small house. And perspective.

2 years and up.

Tom Percival


Isabel's parents don't have much money - but they have each other. Things take a turn for the worse, when they are unable to pay the bills or their rent. They have to move into one of the towers on the other end of the city. Isabel feels lonely, and worse still invisible. But then Isabel notices others that are invisible: a homeless man feeding birds, an old lady planting flowers in old cans. And she helps them and suddenly makes a difference.

This picture book is about poverty. And that we all belong and can be change makers. Tom Percival himself grew up in poverty. He has an uncanny way of making you feel the cold and loneliness with his images. A book with an important message.

4 years and up.

Leonora Leitl


The Tannenbaum family has a perfect, modern, urban life. The father works as an educator, the mother is a biologist. But then one day she loses her job. It is a financial burden, since her share of breadwinning was bigger. But more than that it is an emotional burden for mother Tannenbaum, who doesn't feel acknowledged, and thus for the whole family. The kids are happy to be able to spend so much time with their mom, but where did her laughter go? And one day the family decides to help her: why doesn't she start her own business?

A difficult topic, told in a light manner, with beautiful, cheerful illustrations.

5 years and up

Kirsten Boie, Jutta Bauer


Now that it is wintertime (even though unusually warm for the season), we often see homeless people asking for money or food on our subway rides. A good to talk about it is this one: it tells the biography of a man who has a normal childhood, falls in love, finds a job, has two wonderful kids... and then things start to go wrong, pretty quickly. His wife leaves him for somebody else, he loses his job... He manages to get back on track, but the loses the job again and then his apartment. Deeply moving book told in simple, age-adequate language.

Includes an add on, where primary kids ask homeless questions about their lives.

5 years and up

Luise Holthausen


It is summertime, school is out. But Tom's parents though have no money to go anywhere. The father suggests they all go to the nearby quarry lake. Tom is not enthusiastic. He doesn't enjoy water, in particular in his face. Luckily his parents invite his friend Mila along...

A nice beginning reader story.

6 years and up

Louise Spilsbury / Hanane Kai


A non-fiction book about poverty in other parts of the world and the many reason it can arise: joblessness, poorly paid jobs, war, natural disasters... And the impact poverty and hunger can have on people's lives regarding health, education,

It explains it all perfectly, in simple language.

The only downside of the book is, it somewhat implies poverty exists in other parts of the world. But you can easily address that when to talking with your kids.

6 years and up

Mareike Kruegel


Anton, almost 9, is going through a rough patch. His parents divorced, and now the planned summer vacation with his father is falling through, he has an important assignment as a journalist. Hopeful that he can at least go on a trip with his mom, he learns, that she lost her job. She has lots of time, butd not enough money. But then she pack up their guinea pig and a tent, hop on the bus to go camping on the outskirts of the city. It proves quite an adventure for Arthur, he masters independence, makes an unusual friend. And then his mother disappears.

8 years and up

Walter Mannaert


Yasmina is an 11 year old, she lives with her dad, who works at a food truck. Yasmina is in charge for cooking at home. They always are short on money, and it is hard for her to provide healthy meals. Luckily she finds herbs to pick, and some friends have a garden patch where they grow vegetables. But then the garden patches get rezoned and a big food company tears all down, to build a food factory: they produce additive potatoe chips. Yasmine is determined to fight them!

8 years and up

Anke Baer


Wilhelm grows up in poverty in 19th century Germany. His parents are peasants and they often go hungry. He is determined to have a better fate, learns a profession and when word is out, that you can emigrate to the US he tries his luck. The voyage is not an easy one: like so many, he gets sea sick, his clothes are dirty, their are lots of different rats and insects on the trip, and the food isn't great either. But he keeps praticising his drawing skills and we learn about the other emigrants on the ship.

Poverty and migration have always been linked. A great book that teaches about history, but will also be good to raise empathy for migrants.

8 years and up

Jutta Bauer / Katharina Haines


Children ask questions without all the filters we adults have. This book is a collection of all kind of candid questions kids have about poverty: Is it their fault if people are poor? Can we end poverty? Do you feel sorry for poor people? What does it feel like to be poor? Should you help? Why do homeless often have dogs? were rich people born into well of families?

Scientists, poor people, homeless people, politicians and well of people respond. Great book to start lengthy conversations! But also perfect for a quick read in between.

10 years and up.

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