Alex Kotlowitz’s book There Are No Children Here is a modern classic that describes the life of children within some of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States. Here is a little bit about the book and its aftermath:
“I’ve never thought about it being (a statement) about public housing,” Kotlowitz said while sitting in a cafe Friday near his home. “It could have taken place in any inner-city neighborhood.”…
Public housing now in Chicago is “not perfect, but it’s quite different from when we first started,” Popkin said, citing the transformation at Horner, the CHA’s commitment to resident services and the way that the agency is managed.
But many things remain the same. The poor are still extremely segregated, Kotlowitz said. Deadly violence still defines impoverished communities where rampant shootings are committed by a new generation of so-called cliques…
The brothers [Lafeyette and Pharoah Walton], now 36 and 33, have dealt with their share of adversity. They have both served time in prison and continue to struggle with poverty.
As Sue Popkin suggests, the book helped humanize the problems these children face. It is one thing to have stereotypes and broad ideas about what happens in poorer neighborhoods but another thing to get to know and start rooting for children who live there.
On the whole, it sounds like there is still a lot of work to do regarding public housing, poor neighborhoods, and helping children in these neighborhoods obtain a good education and reach a middle-class lifestyle. Would another, similar book help in this cause? These concerns rarely bubble up to the top of American public discussions.