By: Kiah Champion   |   Posted: August 03, 2023

Talking about poverty with kids can be hard. It’s a heavy topic. But it can also be good! Learn how two parents bring the conversation close to home to raise compassionate kids.

How to Talk to Children About Poverty

Talking about poverty with kids can be hard. It’s a heavy topic. But it can also be good! Learn how two parents bring the conversation close to home to raise compassionate kids.

Written by Kiah Champion
Photography by Juanfer Leon, Sara Navarro and Nico Benalcazar
Mother stands with her two children, smiling

Poverty is a big, complex topic that can feel daunting to discuss with kids. But millions of children around the world are living in poverty. They are just like our kids, who love to play and learn and spend time with friends. The only difference is that poverty robs them of hope and steals their future.

To ensure our families respond to poverty as Jesus did, it’s important to teach children the value of compassion. It means we want them to recognize suffering in the world and then take action to help.

So how do we talk about poverty with our children in a way that makes sense to them? How do we raise kids who understand poverty, have compassion and take action? Well, it might be easier than it seems. Below, two parents share their best advice for talking to kids about poverty.

Amanda, a Compassion sponsor and mom of two, first started sponsoring two kids with her teacher and classmates when she was in the sixth grade. At such a young age, Amanda did not fully grasp the concept of poverty or child sponsorship. But once she started exchanging letters with their sponsored kids, she began to understand what poverty looks like in a more tangible way.

Amanda with her husband, Chad, and their children, Ian and Tava.
Amanda with her husband, Chad, and their children, Ian and Tava.

Now, Amanda and her family sponsor three children. She doesn’t shy away from conversations about poverty. “Compassion just gives me the tools,” she says, explaining how she uses different resources, like Compassion Explorer Magazine and letter writing, to teach her kids about poverty, faith and caring for our neighbors.

Jake, a Compassion sponsor and dad of four, also teaches his kids about poverty. Like Amanda, Jake started sponsoring at a young age with his family, and some of his earliest memories are of excitedly sending letters to their sponsored child. Now, Jake and his wife are instilling that same excitement to care for others in their own children.

Jake’s children, Jeremiah, Katie, Liam and Maverick stand in field
Jake’s children, Jeremiah, Katie, Liam and Maverick.

Here are some tips from Amanda and Jake for how to talk to children about poverty.


“I don’t remember lectures. I remember lifestyle,” explains Jake. When it comes to talking about poverty, you don’t need to sit your kids down to have a big, serious conversation with them. Instead, think of little ways to talk about poverty and to have a lifestyle that reflects caring for your neighbors.

This could mean volunteering together in your local community or sharing small facts about poverty in other countries while you’re driving. Your kids will remember all the little lessons along the way. These small moments will help them notice others around them and will grow their compassion for those who need some help.


Mother and child baking together

Amanda uses food as a practical way to talk to her kids about poverty. Once a week, they like to try a new recipe from Compassion Explorer Magazine and talk about what they have read. It gives her kids the opportunity to ask questions and allows her to explain how different many aspects of life, including food, can be in countries where Compassion works. And it helps them all explore different cultures!

If you’re looking for a fun activity, try a new recipe from somewhere Compassion serves and spark a conversation about what life is like for kids there!


group of children holding letters

Letters are a great tool for teaching your kids about poverty and making a challenging topic more understandable. Instead of poverty being a big, confusing concept, letter writing helps it become a reality about a friend’s life.

Have your child ask your sponsored child questions and try to imagine what life may be like for them. What’s their neighborhood like? What do they like to do for fun? Then, spark up a conversation about the similarities and differences in their own lives!

We hope that Amanda and Jake’s simple tips encourage you to talk to your kids about poverty, even if it’s a small conversation the next time you’re sharing a meal or when a question comes up. After all, these small conversations can be some of the most helpful!

Proverbs 22:6 (NIV) tells us, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” When we teach our kids about poverty and God’s heart for the poor, we are raising up a generation of compassionate people who will help bring God’s kingdom to earth. Start the conversation about poverty today, even if it means starting small!

Learn Together with Compassion Explorer

a boy holds up the letter a

Compassion Explorer online has free resources to help you kick off the conversation about poverty with kids!

a boy holds up the letter a