Read the book. Join the conversation.
Tacoma Reads is a longstanding partnership between the City of Tacoma’s Mayor’s Office and Tacoma Public Library, with wide community support and collaboration.
Join us in 2023 as we read titles for adults, young adults, and children around the theme of Home: housing insecurity in our community. We hope you'll attend Tacoma Reads events in our libraries and throughout our city to engage with this theme.
Our reading selections this year are as follows:
There are millions of homeless children in America today and in A Place Called Home, award-winning child welfare advocate David Ambroz writes about growing up homeless in New York for eleven years and his subsequent years in foster care, offering a window into what so many kids living in poverty experience every day.
When David and his siblings should be in elementary school, they are instead walking the streets seeking shelter while their mother is battling mental illness. They rest in train stations, 24-hour diners, anywhere that’s warm and dry; they bathe in public restrooms and steal food to quell their hunger. When David is placed in foster care, at first it feels like salvation but soon proves to be just as unsafe. He’s moved from home to home and, in all but one placement, he’s abused. His burgeoning homosexuality makes him an easy target for other’s cruelty.
David finds hope and opportunities in libraries, schools, and the occasional kind-hearted adult; he harnesses an inner grit to escape the all-too-familiar outcome for a kid like him. Through hard work and unwavering resolve, he is able to get a scholarship to Vassar College, his first significant step out of poverty. He later graduates from UCLA Law with a vision of using his degree to change the laws that affect children in poverty.
Told with lyricism and sparkling with warmth, A Place Called Home depicts childhood poverty and homelessness as it is experienced by so many young people who have been systematically overlooked and unprotected. It’s at once a gripping personal account of deprivation—how one boy survived it, and ultimately thrived—and a resounding call for readers to move from empathy to action.
There are ninety-six reasons why thirteen-year-old Genesis dislikes herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list:
-Because her family is always being put out of their house.
-Because her dad has a gambling problem. And maybe a drinking problem too.
-Because Genesis knows this is all her fault.
-Because she wasn’t born looking like Mama.
-Because she is too black.
Genesis is determined to fix her family, and she’s willing to try anything to do so…even if it means harming herself in the process. But when Genesis starts to find a thing or two she actually likes about herself, she discovers that changing her own attitude is the first step in helping change others.
In the brown house, Claire and Wes were home. But home turned to nowhere and nowhere turned to anywhere. Then somewhere finally came, and finally, always.
This lyrical story is timely and thoughtful, depicting the life of two children thrust into homelessness and uncertain housing situations as they move out of their house, to a motel, to a shelter, and finally another more permanent home. Throughout, the duo is challenged by uncomfortable new places and inquiries from strangers, but ultimately, never lose their optimism or determination. They have each other, no matter at home, nowhere, anywhere, or somewhere—always.
Includes a poignant Reader's Note on how homelessness affects children and what we can do to help.