Learn About Hunger by Adding These Titles to Your Reading List

Eight books for kids and adults to increase their understanding of poverty and food insecurity.

Photo courtesy Adobe Stock.

For Kids

Lulu and the Hunger Monster

By Erik Talkin, Illustrated by Sheryl Murray

Food Bank of Santa Barbara County CEO Erik Talkin used his MFA in writing for young children to put together this fictional story about a young girl, Lulu, who battles an invisible hunger monster after her mom’s car breaks down, leaving her family short on money for groceries. The book walks kids through how the hunger monster can make it tough to concentrate in school and provides ideas for getting involved in ending hunger.


By Katherine Applegate

Crenshaw the imaginary cat returns to Jackson’s life just in time—his family is struggling. Along with not having enough money for rent, they also need help buying groceries, and if something doesn’t change, they’ll have to return to living in their minivan. This book helps adolescents understand how poverty can impact kids like them, and through the story of Crenshaw shows how friends can be crucial to living in tough situations.

Maddi’s Fridge

By Lois Brandt, Illustrated by Vin Vogel

An award-winning book that came out a decade ago, Maddi’s Fridge tells an important story for children about how hunger can occur right on their own street. Sofia and Maddi live in the same neighborhood and attend the same school, but Sofia discovers that Maddi’s fridge is often empty. She promises to keep that information a secret but realizes if she tells her parents, they might be able to help Maddi.

Hunger Bugs Me!

By Jeremy Gregg, Illustrated by Arlene Soto

A book from the North Texas Food Bank, Hunger Bugs Me takes kids on a journey with ladybug and her friends as they work to help butterfly, who is facing hunger. The book is meant to help young children engage in conversations about hunger and learn ideas about how they can be a part of the solution.

For Adults

How the Other Half Eats

By Priya Fielding-Singh, Ph.D.

Sociologist and researcher Priya Fielding-Singh embedded herself with American families to understand not only how they feed their families but also how they think about food and groceries. She argues that while eliminating food deserts is important, it’s not enough to create equity when race, class and attitudes about food factor into what people will buy. One mom she followed, for example, continued to serve broccoli in hopes of exposing her kids to vegetables. Another mom with a more limited income, couldn’t waste money on food her kids might not eat and therefore bought less healthy food she knew her children would always consume.


By Stephanie Land

A memoir, Maid is Stephanie Land’s story of surviving as a single mother and housekeeper, but it’s also an illuminating account of what it’s like to live in America with a low-income. Land writes of the difficulties of applying for and obtaining government assistance, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and of the shame that sometimes came with it. She also makes it clear how one unexpected expense, such as a vehicle repair or the inability to take a child to daycare due to illness, can be devastating.


By Matthew Desmond

Sociologist Matthew Desmond recounts the stories of eight families he followed as they struggled to maintain housing with limited incomes and rising prices. A Pulitzer Prize winning book, Evicted helps explain poverty and food insecurity in the U.S. while also providing ideas about how to address the issues.

Invisible Child

By Andrea Elliott

Elliott, a New York Times investigative reporter, shares about the life of a young girl, Dasani, as she grows up in a Brooklyn shelter. Dasani becomes the protector of her siblings as they navigate a world of poverty, hunger, addiction and inequity. When she’s offered an escape through admission to boarding school, she’s unsure if she can leave them to fend for themselves in a world she knows is difficult to navigate.