Here at Brightlane Learning, books are an integral part of our programs! Beyond helping students improve their reading skills and comprehension, they act as both windows and mirrors into identities and experiences.
In recognition of Read a New Book Month, we’ve compiled a list of books that follow characters experiencing homelessness or housing instability, as well as a book that follows a character living with a disability in recognition of International Day of Persons with Disabilities. If you’re looking for a new book to read this month, keep reading to learn more about each!
No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen
Twelve-and-three-quarter year old Felix Knutsson has a knack for trivia. His favorite game show is Who What Where When; he even named his gerbil after the host. Felix’s mom, Astrid, is loving but can’t seem to hold on to a job. So when they get evicted from their latest shabby apartment, they have to move into a van. Astrid swears him to secrecy; he can’t tell anyone about their living arrangement, not even Dylan and Winnie, his best friends at his new school. If he does, she warns him, he’ll be taken away from her and put into foster care.
As their circumstances go from bad to worse, Felix gets a chance to audition for a junior edition of Who What Where When, and he’s determined to earn a spot on the show. Winning the cash prize could make everything okay again. But things don’t turn out the way he expects…
Susin Nielsen deftly combines humor, heartbreak, and hope in this moving story about people who slip through the cracks in society, and about the power of friendship and community to make all the difference.
Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival, & Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott
In Invisible Child, Pulitzer Prize winner Andrea Elliott follows eight dramatic years in the life of Dasani, a girl whose imagination is as soaring as the skyscrapers near her Brooklyn shelter. In this sweeping narrative, Elliot weaves the story of Dasani’s childhood with the history of her ancestors, tracing their passage from slavery to the Great Migration north. As Dasani comes to age, New York City’s homeless crisis has exploded, deepening the chasm between rich and poor. She must guide her siblings through a world riddled by hunger, violence, racism, drug addiction, and the threat of foster care. Out on the street, Dasani becomes a fierce fighter “to protect those who I love.” When she finally escapes city life to enroll in a boarding school, she faces an impossible question: What if leaving poverty means abandoning your family, and yourself?
A work of luminous and riveting prose, Elliott’s Invisible Child reads like a page-turning novel. It is an astonishing story about the power of resilience, the importance of family and the cost of inequality – told through the crucible of one remarkable girl.
Shelter by Christie Matheson
Fifth grade can be tough for anyone. There are cliques and mean kids and homework and surprise math tests. But after tragedy strikes her family, almost eleven-year-old Maya has a painful secret that makes many days feel nearly impossible.
And today might be Maya’s toughest yet. Her family is on edge, she needs to travel alone across the city, a bully is out to get her, and Maya has to face this winter’s biggest rainstorm without a coat or an umbrella.
But even on the rainiest days, there’s hope that the sun will come out soon.
Emotional and compassionate, Shelter looks at homelessness through one girl’s eyes and explores the power of empathy, friendship, and love.
Just Under the Clouds by Melissa Sarno
To climb a tree, always think in threes and you’ll never fall. “Two feet, one hand. Two hands, one foot,” Cora’s father told her when she was a little girl. Now Cora is in middle school, her father is gone, her family is homeless, and Cora has to look after her younger sister, Adare, who needs a lot of looking after.
When their room at the shelter is ransacked, Cora’ mother bring them to an old friend’s apartment and Cora hopes this will be a place she can finally call home. When doubt seeps in, Cora makes an escape of her own and discovers something that will change how she sees her family and her place within it.