Tough Times: a book list for Kids Ages 5-12
By the Dawn’s Early Light
A young girl and her brother stay with their grandmother while their mother works at night.
The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Pressure
Stan and Jan Berenstain
Sister and Brother Bear have activities, and Mama and Papa have their own interests, too. There isn't much time left over. As the Bears' lives grow more hectic, pressure builds!
The Berenstain Bears Think of Those in Need
Stan and Jan Berenstain
When Mama Bear decides that the family has accumulated too many old toys, books, and games, they sort through all their extra stuff and take it to charity.
Mama Panya's Pancakes : a Village Tale from Kenya
Mama Panya has just enough money to buy ingredients for a few pancakes, so when her son Adika invites all their friends to join them, she is sure there will not be enough to go around.
Chicken Soup for Little Souls: the Braids Girl
While helping Grandpa Mike do volunteer work at a shelter for less fortunate people, Izzy tries to figure out the best way to help a girl her own age who is staying there.
One Hen : how one small loan made a big difference
Katie Smith Milway
Based on a true story, tells of how a poor Ghanaian boy buys a chicken through a community loan program, which eventually helps lift him, his mother, and his community out of poverty.
Do Something in Your Community
This non-fiction easy reader highlights how kids can make a difference in their communities.
When Mama Gets Home
As she helps her older sister and brother get dinner started, a young girl looks forward to spending time with her mother when she gets home from work.
An Angel for Solomon Singer
A lonely New York City resident finds companionship and good cheer at the Westway Cafe where dreams come true.
The Double Life of Zoe Flynn
Jane Lee Carey
When Zoe's family has to live in their van for months after moving from California to Oregon so her father can find work, Zoe tries to keep her sixth-grade classmates from discovering that she is homeless.
Ramona and Her Father
Second grade is not turning out the way it should- dad has lost his job, her mom has found a full-time job, and her big sister Beezus has "reached a difficult age." The challenge is on for the whole family to prove their mettle.
Just Another Day in My Insanely Real Life
Twelve-year-old Cassie has a lot to cope with when her father moves "out of the picture." Her mom's constantly working overtime, her teenage sister's going AWOL, and her little brother seriously needs attention. It's up to Cassie to prevent total chaos at home -- or so she thinks.
The Hundred Dresses
An immigrant girl in an American school, is ridiculed for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. When she tells her classmates that she has one hundred dresses at home, and a game of teasing eventually brings about a lesson for all.
Sister Spider Knows All
Twelve-year-old Rox spends her weekends bagging vegetables, making change and working the flea market booth with her grandma to pay the bills. But she wonders about the mother she never knew, and finds answers through a missing diary.
Listening for Crickets
Jake wishes he could fly right out of reality into the freedom of his dreams. No more worries about asthma, special reading class, or his parents’ fighting—just sky. He creates a world of stories where finds hope in crickets, friends, teachers, and dreams.
My Life in Pink and Green
Twelve-year-old Lucy Desberg is a natural problem solver. Lucy dreams up a makeover miracle solution that could save the family business and help the environment, too. But will Lucy’s family stop fighting long enough to listen to her?
Lexi, 12, is taken into a shelter where there are clean clothes, warm food, and, most importantly, a woman who remembers her. Safe from the dangers of the street, Lexi begins to rebuild her identity. A silver key around her neck unlocks the secrets of a life she never knew she had.
Gregory, 10, leaves the Arizona Navajo reservation for the first time when hard times drive his family from their home. Living in a shelter in Tucson with his mother and baby sister, he attends a neighborhood school, longing for his beloved dad, who left them. In coping with the move, Gregory invents an imaginary companion until he makes a real friend at school.
What I Believe
Norma Fox Mazer
When Vicki's father is laid off from his job, everything changes. Her family moves to a city apartment, and she has to forge a new path at her urban school. Worst of all, one night her father simply disappears. Vicki soon finds herself living a double life--fine on the outside, anything but fine on the inside.
Todd and Amy Davidson may be twins, but they’re complete opposites. Their roles start to change after father has been unemployed for months and their mother has started to work at a crafts store. Now everybody is always on edge, will life ever return to normal?
Sallie Gal and the Wall-a-kee Man
Sallie wants some hair ribbons just like her cousin Wild Cat's. But money is slim and no matter how hard she works, she can't afford ribbons - until Wall-a-kee Man comes and offers her charity - which Sallie isn't supposed to take. A warm story of courage evolves.
How to Steal a Dog
Georgina has her heart set on improving her family’s situation. She spots a missing-dog poster with a reward of five hundred dollars, and the solution seems within reach. What happens next is the last thing she expected.
Where I Live
When Dad stops telling jokes and Mom laughs less than usual, grade-schooler Diana worries. Then comes the news- dad has lost his job, and the family must move. Told in free-verse, this quiet, polished novella shows Diana's struggle to accept her situation.
The Lottie Project
For her history project, Charlie hits on the idea of writing the diary of Lottie, a young Victorian serving girl. When Charlie's mother loses her job as a manager and starts work as a cleaner, Charlie's previously happy and comfortable lifestyle is threatened, and she finds her own hardships are not so different from Lottie's.
Return to top
Last Updated: March 12, 2012