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Columbia’s National Center for Children in Poverty Presents a Range of Voices through Online Book Club

“Being poor isn’t a crime — it just feels like it.” That’s one of the chapter titles in the hard-hitting and brutally honest Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado. The author will lead a discussion of her book and what it means to be poor in America on September 16, 2:00-3:00 pm EDT, as part of the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) Online Book Club series.

For the last 25 years, NCCP, the Mailman School’s nonpartisan public policy research center, has held fast to a vision of America in which all families are economically secure, strong, and nurturing, and all children are supported so they thrive and grow into healthy adults. NCCP works to achieve that vision through its research and daily monitoring of trends, its tracking of national and state-level demographic and policy data, and its use of  that evidence to promote policies and programs that improve the lives of poor children and families.

Another way NCCP moves closer to that vision is through its Online Book Club, where audiences can consider what can be done to prevent and reduce child poverty through a range of book titles. To do so effectively, NCCP selects publications that are likely to interest people from all walks of life and lead to provocative discussions about poverty – both its pervasiveness and the potential for prevention and reduction.

Hand to Mouth promises to instigate a particularly eye-opening conversation, according to Dr. Renée Wilson-Simmons, NCCP’s director. The book came about after Tirado, a 32-year-old mother of two, responded to an online forum which asked, “Why do poor people do things that seem so self-destructive?”  At the time, Tirado had two low-paying jobs and described what it felt like to be among the working poor. Her response went viral, appearing in The Huffington Post, The Nation, and Forbes.

“Tirado’s absorbing story drives home the point that Americans are struggling, even if they work as many as three jobs,” said Dr. Wilson-Simmons. “You don’t have to have read the book to take part online but we believe you will want to afterward.”

Books discussed earlier this year included Poverty in America:  A Handbook by John David Iceland; Gutters & Alleyways: Perspectives on Poverty and Struggle by Nancy Lynée Woo and Sarah Thursday; Squandering America’s Future: Why Early Care & Education Policy Matters for Equality, Our Economy, and Our Children by Susan Ochshorn; and Just Mercy:  A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. Stevenson himself was an active contributor in that discussion.

For more information and to register for the discussion of Hand to Mouth, click here.