Growing Up Poor

A Literary Anthology

A searingly candid look at growing up “without,” edited by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of the Children of Crisis series

“Robert Coles has devoted his professional life to listening to children whose voices are so often ignored and who tell stories many of us do not want to hear. He and Randy Testa have assembled a remarkable selection of these narratives—both fictional and all too real—in the challenging yet ultimately hopeful collection Growing Up Poor. Let us listen!” —Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund

In a land of seemingly endless plenty, Growing Up Poor offers a startling and beautiful collection of stories, poems, and essays about growing up without. Searing in their candor, understated, and often unexpectedly moving, the selections range from a young girl’s story of growing up in New York’s slums at the turn of the twentieth century, to a southern family’s struggles during the Depression, to contemporary stories of rural and urban poverty by some of our foremost authors.

Thematically organized into four sections—on the material circumstances of poverty, denigration at the hands of others, the working poor, and moments of resolve and resiliency—the book combines the work of experienced authors, many writing autobiographically about their firsthand experience of poverty, with that of students and other contemporary writers.

Edited and with an introduction by Pulitzer Prize–winning child psychiatrist Robert Coles, Growing Up Poor gives eloquent voice to those judged not by who they are, but by what they lack.


“Valuable . . . eloquent.”
“Contributors to this volume speak in crisp, clear voices that demand—and deserve—to be heard.”
Time Out New York
“Wise poems, stories and essays about poverty and denigration, and the remarkable moments of determination and resolve experienced by some wonderful authors.”
Chicago Tribune

Books by these authors

A Life in Medicine
A Literary Anthology

Robert Coles, Randy Testa

Goodreads Reviews