Profiles in Resilience: Books for Children and Teens That Center the Lived Experience of Generational Poverty

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“This book helps to expand the definition of diversity in children’s books by shedding light on an element of diversity that is sometimes overlooked—economic situation or income . . . Teachers and librarians will find it informative and engaging as it deepens their experience with both authors and books as well as their understanding of children who are experiencing generational poverty.”
—from the Foreword by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Drawing from her own lived experience, in this guide Dorr shines a light on some of the cultural values that exist across both rural and urban poverty, inviting teachers, librarians, and others who work with children from low-income families to see them in their cultural context and appreciate the values they bring to the classroom or library. She spotlights a range of books for children and teens that offer literary mirrors to low-income children, as well as windows to more economically privileged readers, enabling all young readers to celebrate our common humanity. And she also shares the work of ten authors and illustrators familiar with poverty, offering insights into the sources of their stories and the ways storytellers’ lived experience can influence their creative works and make their characters more authentic. You will discover

  • an introduction which explores what it’s like to grow up in generational poverty, including its long-term effects on children, the roles played by intersectional and institutional racism, the power of family, and how reading can act as powerful catalyst;
  • biographical sketches of Elizabeth Acevedo, Jason Reynolds, Cynthia Rylant, Kelly Yang, and other authors and illustrators;
  • inspiring profiles and books spanning age ranges, genres, and formats that chronicle the lives of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Sonia Sotomayor, John Lewis, Wilma Mankiller, and other people who were raised in generational poverty; and
  • four appendixes which spotlight even more stories of resilient individuals and fictional characters.

Foreword by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop
Introduction: Growing Up in Generational Poverty

Part I        Inspiring Storytellers
Chapter 1    Cynthia Rylant
Chapter 2    Matt de la Peña
Chapter 3    Christian Robinson
Chapter 4    Gary Paulsen
Chapter 5    Kelly Yang
Chapter 6    Patricia Polacco
Chapter 7    Elizabeth Acevedo
Chapter 8    Rex Ogle
Chapter 9    Joseph Bruchac
Chapter 10    Jason Reynolds

Part II        Inspiring Stories
Chapter 11    Sonia Sotomayor
Chapter 12    John Lewis
Chapter 13    José Hernández
Chapter 14    Coco Chanel
Chapter 15    Carlos Santana
Chapter 16    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Chapter 17    Wilma Mankiller
Chapter 18    Diane Guerrero 
Chapter 19    Homer Hickam
Chapter 20    Barack Obama
Chapter 21    Kamala Harris
Chapter 22    Ruth Bader Ginsburg


  •     Appendix A    Works by the Storytellers Featured in Part I
  •     Appendix B    Works about the Inspiring People Featured in Part II
  • Appendix C    More Stories of Resilient Characters That Are Too Good to Miss
  •     Appendix D    More Inspiring Biographies That Are Too Good to Miss

About the Author

Christina H. Dorr

Christina H. Dorr, PhD, is a retired school librarian of 30+ years. She has also taught literature, literacy, technology, and library science courses for the past 17 years as an adjunct instructor for five universities in Ohio, including Kent State University and the Ohio State University, where she had earned a doctorate in education with a specialty in literature and literacy. Dorr has written book reviews, columns, articles, and interviews for various journals for many years, presented at numerous state and national organizations, and served on several book award committees for the American Library Association, most recently as a member of the 2020 Caldecott Committee. Profiles in Resilience: Books for Children and Teens That Center the Lived Experience of Generational Poverty is her third book, the first two being co-authored with Liz Deskins; the second one was LGBTQAI+ Books for Children and Teens: Providing a Window for All, with a second edition planned soon. She is also co-editing the second edition of Reference Sources and Services for Youth with Dr. Meghan Harper, also being released through ALA Editions.

"Librarians working with children or teens will find this book a useful guide in planning programs and selecting library resources for patrons in the throes of generational poverty (a term applied to families who have experienced poverty for at least two generations)."
— Catholic Library World