On Our Street – Our First Talk About Poverty: Book Review

On Our Street Book ReviewNot everyone in our society lives the same way. Some live in houses; some on the street. Some people live comfortably; some live in poverty.

Title: On Our Streets: Our First Talk About Poverty
Author: Jillian Roberts and Jaime Casap
Illustrator: Jane Heinrichs
ISBN: 9781760401085          Language: English

Classification: Non-Fiction
Themes: poverty, empathy

What’s it about?
This is a non-fiction books that focuses on the topic of poverty on the streets. It first discusses about those who are homeless and offers reasons why and what they face. It then looks at other types of poverty – such as being unable to afford medical care.

The concept – it’s not easy to find non-fiction books that attempt to take a topic such as poverty. The illustrations by Jane Heinrichs are really well done – not overly cutesy but still cartoonish style and non-confrontational.

This is not necessarily appropriate for the current (pre-publication) target age in terms of the complex language and references. It side steps other reasons for poverty and other more common types of poverty that would especially impact children.

On Our Street BuyMy Thoughts
This is the first non-fiction book I have looked at for children in a while. I admire the purpose behind it but I feel it misses the more relatable poverty – at least from an Australian perspective – so bear in mind my thoughts about this American published book are probably coming from a different headspace.

One of the biggest types of poverty that, as a teacher, I have come across are those reliant on welfare. While many think that “dole-bludgers” have it easy more often then not their children go without a lot of things that others take for granted. While the book is quick to suggest refugees have limited or no access to some essential services to me it seems like the every day struggling family are pushed to the side in an attempt for the book to be more relevant to the current social media focus. For example, here in Australia we are fortunate to have a generous welfare scheme that negates a lot of homelessness from occurring in addition to many services and charities who can be reached out to for help. I think because of this I found (as an adult) this book difficult to relate to. There are many who choose to be homeless in our country and I’ve even heard stories in the news of homeless people who are collecting welfare but choose the life on the streets. Of course, that doesn’t account for everyone but it isn’t really dealt with in the book.

Overall, this isn’t a book I would use – to me it’s a bit too “American-focused” but of course if you’re in America it might be more relevant and useful especially if you are teaching grades 3-6.

Dr Jillian Roberts website

Jane Heinrichs Website link

Special thanks to Orca Book Publishers and NetGalley for providing me with an advance reader copy to review.

What do you think?