Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones.
Jeremy desperately wants a pair of those black high tops with white stripes, but there is no extra money to get anything but new winter boots. To make matters worse, Jeremy’s shoes wear out and he has to wear a pair that fits him taken from the box the guidance counselor keep for kids who need things. And they are bright blue and Velcro, like ones for little kids. Jeremy’s grandmother takes him shopping for boots and thinks about getting him the new shoes, but they are too expensive. Then she willingly takes him to different thrift stores to see if they can find a pair. And they do! But the shoes are too small, even though Jeremy tries to curl his toes under his foot to make them fit. He insists that they buy them, but finally admits that he can’t wear them. Perhaps someone else can?
This story simply and clearly tells the story of a child who lives in a family where he can’t have everything he wants. There is no shame here, no squalor, just a normal family where spending money has an impact and choices must be made. The illustrations in the book show a rainbow of children going to school together. Friendships are not racially divided and neither is the poverty line. It is all nicely handled.
This is one of those books that is important to share with all children of any means. Children who don’t face choices like this must learn that there are families right in their communities who do, and children who live in homes where finances are tight will be happy to know that they are not the only ones. We live in a society where items are glorified and children are caught up in having the latest gizmos, gadgets, toys and clothes. This book puts it all into perspective. And just might lead to new perspectives in children who get a chance to read it, hear it and talk about it.
Highly recommended for ages 5-8. This would be a wonderful book to get conversations started in a classroom about money and choices and differences.