At Second Harvest, we do more than just distribute food within our 16-county service area. We are actively working to end the stigma of seeking food support. These are a few resources our team has compiled to assist your family in talking to kids about hunger. Talking about food insecurity shouldn’t be scary or shameful. By having these conversations, you can help end the stigma of reaching out for food support! Find these titles at your local library, favorite bookstore, or online at BookShop.org.
Lulu and the Hunger Monster by Erik Talkin
When Lulu’s mother’s van breaks down, money for food becomes tight and the Hunger Monster comes into their lives. Only visible to Lulu, Hunger Monster is a troublemaker who makes it hard for her to concentrate in school. How will Lulu help her mom and defeat the Monster when Lulu has promised never to speak the monster’s name to anyone?
This realistic–and hopeful–story of food insecurity builds awareness of the issue of childhood hunger, increases empathy for people who are food insecure, and demonstrates how anyone can help end hunger. Lulu and the Hunger Monster(TM) empowers children to destigmatize the issue of hunger before the feeling turns into shame.
Saturday at the Food Pantry by Diane O’Neill
Molly and her mom don’t always have enough food, so one Saturday they visit their local food pantry. Molly’s happy to get food to eat until she sees her classmate Caitlin, who’s embarrassed to be at the food pantry. Can Molly help Caitlin realize that everyone needs help sometimes?
Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki
Tie on your apron! Roll up your sleeves! Pans are out, oven is hot, the kitchen’s all ready! Where do we start?
A lively celebration of food and community from Caldecott honoree Jillian Tamaki, this lively, rousing picture book tells the story of a crew of resourceful neighbors who come together to prepare a meal for their community.
With a garden abundant with produce, a joyfully chaotic kitchen, and a friendly meal shared at the table, Our Little Kitchen is a celebration of full bellies and looking out for one another.
Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt
With humor and warmth, this children’s picture book raises awareness about poverty and hunger. Best friends Sofia and Maddi live in the same neighborhood, go to the same school, and play in the same park, but while Sofia’s fridge at home is full of nutritious food, the fridge at Maddi’s house is empty. Sofia learns that Maddi’s family doesn’t have enough money to fill their fridge and promises Maddi she’ll keep this discovery a secret. But because Sofia wants to help her friend, she’s faced with a difficult decision: to keep her promise or tell her parents about Maddi’s empty fridge. Filled with colorful artwork, this storybook addresses issues of poverty with honesty and sensitivity while instilling important lessons in friendship, empathy, trust, and helping others. A call to action section, with six effective ways for children to help fight hunger and information on anti-hunger groups, is also included.
Free Lunch by Rex Ogle
Instead of giving him lunch money, Rex’s mom has signed him up for free meals. As a poor kid in a wealthy school district, better-off kids crowd impatiently behind him as he tries to explain to the cashier that he’s on the free meal program. The lunch lady is hard of hearing, so Rex has to shout.
Free Lunch is the story of Rex’s efforts to navigate his first semester of sixth grade–who to sit with, not being able to join the football team, Halloween in a handmade costume, classmates and a teacher who take one look at him and decide he’s trouble–all while wearing secondhand clothes and being hungry. His mom and her boyfriend are out of work, and life at home is punctuated by outbursts of violence. Halfway through the semester, his family is evicted and ends up in government-subsidized housing in view of the school. Rex lingers at the end of last period every day until the buses have left, so no one will see where he lives.
Unsparing and realistic, Free Lunch is a story of hardship threaded with hope and moments of grace. Rex’s voice is compelling and authentic, and Free Lunch is a true, timely, and essential work that illuminates the lived experience of poverty in America.
Find your local library
Bridges Library System – Jefferson County
Monarch Library System – Dodge County
Prairie Lakes Library System – Rock County
South Central Library System – Adams, Columbia, Dane, Green and Sauk Counties
Southwest Wisconsin Library System – Crawford, Grant, Iowa, Lafayette and Richmond Counties
Winding Rivers Library System – Juneau, Monroe and Vernon Counties