4 Must-Read Books to Understand Poverty

Posted on by SpokaneYFC

It is the mission of Spokane YFC to break the cycle of poverty in youths living in under-resourced neighborhoods by giving them the tools needed to live a transformed life. A big part of this mission is to empower caring adults to join us. 

Often, the first step in getting involved is becoming more informed about the issues surrounding cycles of poverty. There are many ways to get informed, but one of the best ways, especially during COVID, is to learn successful methods of breaking cycles of poverty through reading. 

While there are hundreds of books written on poverty, these four books have informed our view on how to best execute our mission.

If you want to learn more about helping those living in poverty, we recommend checking out the books below. 

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor… and Yourself  by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

Most Christians want to help the poor in the cities in which they live. However, many of us are at a loss as to how we can make a difference in the lives of the poor. When Helping Hurts dives into the complexities of poverty in North America to explain why poverty is much more than a lack of material resources, this understanding then informs the view that we need to do much more than give donations to solve the problem of poverty. While that revelation can be overwhelming, Corbett and Fikkert give practical and proven strategies for creating sustainable change in breaking cycles of poverty in underserved neighborhoods. 

Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes You Just by Timothy Keller

The Bible seems to be full of interesting contradictions. Christians are beckoned to take care of children, widows, and the poor. Yet, some passages refer to God's wrath or talk about slavery in a way that is difficult for some to understand. How does this all reconcile to the idea of a just and loving God? This is a question that Keller works out by exploring the Old and New Testament and how understanding God's grace informs our understanding of justice in the Bible and our calling to serve children, widows, and the poor. 

The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist by Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, ran homeless shelters in New York City. Though Day's views can be somewhat controversial, The Long Loneliness is a worthwhile read for anyone who either works with underserved communities or wants to understand better how to support those who work with homeless or under-resourced peoples. In this autobiography, Day is enduringly honest about the hardships and joys of answering our calling as Christians to serve the poor. 

A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne, P.h.D.

Written in 1995, A Framework for Understanding Poverty proves to be a classic work on understanding the unique challenges that people living in poverty face. This book explains the survival mentality that many in poverty experience and how that removes opportunities afforded to the middle and upper classes. This book is used by thousands of educators and others who work with underserved communities to better understand the barriers that people living in poverty face. 

Education is often the first step to making real change in communities. Ready to get even more involved? There are many different ways to help out at YFC. Click here for more information. 

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