The Face of Poverty in America

Today I have a book that shows the face of poverty in America.  This book is a memoir, so it will show kids what it is really like to live on food stamps and to have to declare you are in the free lunch program every day at school.

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Title: Free Lunchthe face of poverty in America Free Lunch

Author: Rex Ogle

Target: Grades 6 and up

Series: No

What this book is about:

In this memoir, Rex is being raised in a family that is economically disadvantaged.  They are poor and Rex’s mom has signed him up for the free lunch program.  Rex used to look at school as an escape from his home life, but having to announce daily to the lunch cashier that he gets a free meal has brought the pain and embarrassment of his poverty into sixth grade.  He struggles with friends who have more, parents who display physical and emotional outbursts at home and having to live without.  It isn’t until his parents secure work that Rex is able to get relief from his daily struggles.

Why I love this book:

  • Ok, I read this during a tough week and completely missed that it was a memoir.  When I got to the end and realized that everything I had just read actually happened to the author it took my breath away.  This isn’t someone imagining what a child in poverty can go through, this is someone sharing what actually happened to him because of poverty.
  • Despite some darker moments for Rex, he is absolutely a wonderful kid and his voice will appeal to readers.  While he is mad at the unfairness of it all, he doesn’t succumb to everything that comes with being poor and is at times able to rise above it all.
  • I always find the parental abuse the most disturbing.  Not every adult acts this way when faced with poverty, but it is how Rex’s parents handled the overwhelming pressure.  I longed for someone in his orbit to help him, but imagine that so many kids never have anyone reach out.

Who this book is for:

They should hand this book to all sixth-graders so that they can either see themselves or understand and begin to empathize with kids who are faced with poverty.  This book is also very good for reluctant readers because the chapters are short and the writing is so well done.  The Benefits of Being an Octopus is another good selection for understanding kids facing poverty, although the story is fiction.

Final thoughts:

Free Lunch just won the award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults.  A well deserved shiny sticker.

To purchase this book:

Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Free Lunch.  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.