Chapter 10

Learning About Economic Class & Fairness

Love and belonging are not dependent on gifts and things.

Valuing the many kinds of work that families do, paid and unpaid, at home and in the wider world.
Recognizing the difference between “charity” and everyone helping out in whatever way they can.

To find more books like these, use the book search page. Look under “Making People Visible” and “Special Topics”.



Apple Picking Time - Cover
Apple Picking Time
Michelle Benoit Slawson, Trumpet Books 1995
Ages 2 - 6

Wonderful story of a family of migrant apple pickers, and of a little girl’s sense of triumph as she helps the family with the picking. Loving scene of parents dancing to the radio during a lunch break to celebrate their anniversary. A rich story of where our food comes from and of the labor that is required to bring it to our table. Child and father look Hispanic, mother looks Euro-American. Pickers are ethnically mixed.
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
Circle of Friends - Cover
Circle of Friends
Giora Carmi, Star Bright Books 2003
Ages 3 - 7

A wordless book that little ones will “read” to you! Told entirely in pictures, a young child yearns for a muffin, is given money to go to the bakery, sees a unhoused elderly man sleeping on a bench, leaves the muffin for the man, who wakes up delighted and then shares the muffin with a bird, who brings bits of muffin back to the nest where a young bird takes a seed and flies up to a flower box outside a window…and the rain comes, and the sun…and one day – the child opens the window and finds the sunflower! So lovely! We love that both the child and the unhoused man are portrayed as warm and caring and giving.
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
The Cot in the Living Room - Cover
The Cot in the Living Room
Hilda Eunice Burgos, Penguin Random House 2021
Ages 3 - 7

Some parents work at night and need a place for their child to be cared for. Raquel’s Dad works the night shift at the hospital. Eduardo’s Mom sings in a nightclub. Lisa’s grandmother works nights cleaning offices. So, one by one, they come to sleep on the cot in Mamita’s and Papi’s living room. Their youngest daughter objects. “It’s not fair! I want a turn” she wails. Until finally, one night, she is offered a turn – only to find out the room feels dark and scary and doesn’t’ smell or sound like her own bed in the room with her big sister. So – when Raquel comes back again – they move the cot into the room with the two sisters – where it is not lonely at all.
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
A Chair for My Mother - Cover
A Chair for My Mother
Vera B. Williams, Greenwillow Books 1982
Ages 3 - 8

A classic – and too good to miss. A young girl, her mother, & her grandmother carefully save money, coin by coin, to buy a soft comfy chair for  Mom to rest in after her shift as a waitress. After a fire destroyed their apartment, the family has been making do with furniture their supportive neighbors gave them. The hoped-for chair will be a place for Mom to relax with her feet up, for Grandmother to gaze out the window and for the girl to sit on her mother’s lap. But first, each family member has to carefully save each nickel or dime to fill the big jar on the table.
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
A Day’s Work - Cover
A Day’s Work
Eve Bunting, Clarion Books 1994
Ages 4 - 8

Finally! A book about day laborers. Francisco & his Abuelo wait on a corner to find work. Abuelo doesn’t speak English so Francisco translates and when offered a much needed job he assures the employer that his grandfather is an experienced gardener (although it isn’t true). Francisco and Abuelo work hard, but not knowing how to judge, they pull out new plants along with the weeds. As they work an extra day without pay to correct their mistake, Francisco gains new respect for his grandfather – and makes some important discoveries of his own. Beautifully & respectfully illustrated.
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
Each Kindness - Cover
Each Kindness
Jacqueline Woodson, Nancy Paulsen Books 2012
Ages 5 - 8

Chloe and her friends want nothing to do with Maya, the new girl who wears funny clothes & shoes that are old & broken. Maya tries to be friendly but is rebuffed again & again. And one day, she is gone. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson on kindness, Chloe realizes the damage she has partaken in. Gorgeously illustrated and tenderly written, a timely & powerful book.
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
Estela’s Swap - Cover
Estela’s Swap
Alexis O’Neill, Lee & Low Books 2002
Ages 5 - 8

Estela is a young Mexican American girl who accompanies her father to a swap meet where she hopes to sell her music box for money to pay for dancing lessons. Great pictures about a location very familiar to many of our children, who don’t buy “new” – and a terrific story about an intelligent, competent little girl.
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
Home Lovely - Cover
Home Lovely
Lynne Rae Perkins, Green Willow Books 1995
Ages 3 - 8

Tiffany is lonesome living in their new (but very old) trailer house out in the country. Mom goes to work and Tiffany must care for and entertain herself. A new friend arrives in the form of Bob, the mail carrier, who bit-by-bit helps her plant a garden and create a lovely place to be home for Tiffany and her Mom.
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
Last Stop on Market Street - Cover
Last Stop on Market Street
Matt De La Pena, G.P. Putnam’s Sons 2015
Ages 4 - 8

This Caldecott and Newberry award winner follows C.J. and his Nana as they ride the bus across the city, paying attention to the multi-racial, multi-class people who ride along with them. C.J. wishes they had a car, but Nana shows him the beauty of their working-class world and the important sharing that happens in the soup-kitchen where they go to help. Also available in a bilingual edition “Ultima parada de la calle Market”
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
Maddi’s Fridge - Cover
Maddi’s Fridge
Lois Brandt, Flashlight Press 2018
Ages 5 - 8

One of the few children’s books that speaks to food insecurity and hunger. The refrigerator in Maddi’s house is often empty. Her best friend, Sofia, breaks her promise of silence to tell her Mom, who goes to visit Maddi’s Mom, bringing groceries, and equally important bringing friendship and support. The text is for first through fifth graders – but the story can be told to children as young as four.
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
I Like Old Clothes - Cover
I Like Old Clothes
Mary Ann Hoberman, Alfred A. Knopf 2012
Ages 3 - 7

“I like old clothes, everyday clothes, once-for-good clothes, now-for-play clothes” sings an exuberant young girl who  along with her little brother celebrates and delights in used, hand-me-down, somebody else’s clothes – and wears them with imagination and playfulness.
Goal 1 & 2
Messenger, Messenger - Cover
Messenger, Messenger
Robert Burleigh, Atheneum Press 2000
Ages 3 - 7

Calvin Curbhopper, a bicycle messenger, makes his way through the city despite all sorts of complicated conditions to make sure that his messages get delivered on time. Taking shortcuts through parking lots, steering through the mid-day blare of honking horns, he rides through diverse areas of a big city until after dark.
Goal 1 & 2
The Paperboy - Cover
The Paperboy
Dav Pilkey, Scholastic Books 1996
Ages 4 - 8

A young African American boy and his dog rise before the sun every day. They eat breakfast together and set out in the dark with a heavy red bag of papers. The boy knows the route very well so he thinks about other things, large and small. His dog knows which cats are for growling at and which trees are for sniffing. This is the time when they are both the happiest, when the world is still fast asleep. They ride home as the sun rises and crawl back into bed for a while. A Caldecott Honor Book.
Goal 1 & 2
Night Job - Cover
Night Job
Karen Hesse, Candlewick Press 2018
Ages 2 - 8

A beautiful book about a loving working-class single Dad and the honorable work he does. Dad and son ride their motorcycle to the school where Dad works the night shift cleaning and polishing all the rooms for the next day. The child helps with small tasks. They eat their lunch from home at midnight, and the child sleeps on the couch in the library while Dad works. At dawn, they head home where Dad falls asleep in the big chair and the child climbs up into his arms and snuggles down.

[book cover="someonebuildsthedream.jpg" title="Someone Builds the Dream " author="Lisa Wheeler" publisher="Dial Books" year="2021" ages="3 - 8" goals="1 & 2"]
We love this book! It’s a perfect STEM book and at the same time, a celebration of working class people. Someone has to do the work to make real and tangible the dreams and plans of architects, engineers, artists, scientists, designers, and writers . Someone (multiethnic, multi-racial, gender fluid people) does that work, vividly illustrated with wonderful detail of how the work is done. Someone has a dream AND many people work to bring it to reality.

Goal 1 & 2
What is Given From the Heart - Cover
What is Given From the Heart
Patricia McKissack, Schwartz & Wade Books 2019
Ages 5 - 8

This remarkable story switches the notion of “charity” into neighbors taking care of each other. Otis & his Mom are having hard, hard times. Their church announces people are going to make Love Boxes to help out families in need. Otis has nothing to give – until he decides to make a little book for a child who lost her home to fire. When Otis gets back from his delivery – there is a special Love Box waiting for him, with food and clothing from his church.
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
Yard Sale - Cover
Yard Sale
Eve Bunting, Candlewick Press 2015
Ages 4 - 8

It’s kind of hard to watch when all your things are being sold. Callie’s family is having a yard sale because they have to move to a small apartment. They even have to sell some of Callie’s old toys. And Callie wonders – what if they have to sell her too? A lovely book about what really matters most to families regardless of financial worries.
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
You and Me and Home Sweet Home - Cover
You and Me and Home Sweet Home
George Ella Lyon, Atheneum Book 2009
Ages 4 - 10

“My mama and me, we’ve been living in the back room of Aunt Janey’s apartment since Christmas before last…Mama says we’re between a rock and a hard place. Where are we going to go”? With gorgeous watercolor and pastel illustrations – close ups of faces so real and expressive that even our youngest “read-to-me” children can understand the story – this books records a community coming together to build a home for one small homeless family. It’s a multi-racial, multi-age team of women and men, under Carpenter Diane’s leadership, who give of themselves to build the home. And when it is done, they gather together to celebrate, join hands and pray, “God our maker, bless this food and work. Use our hands to build a better world.
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4