Thursday, July 23, 2009

Children of the Past

As mentioned before, there are many great books available to teach American History to children. A couple more of my favorite biographers are Russell Freedman and Jerry Stanley. Undoubtedly, life for children in the nineteenth and early twentieth century was vastly different from the life of children today. I believe it's important for our children to learn about history to gain an appreciation for what they have in this life, and there's probably no better way to teach a child than through learning about life for children in the past.

Both books are biographies with photography incorporated into a moderate amount of text for young children. The suggested age for the books is 8+ years old.

Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp is a book about The Dust Bowl of 1936-1940. During the Depression, migrant workers were forced to move westward in search of work and food. Many of the photographs were taken by government employees who worked for the former Farm Security Administration set up by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1939, a controversial, fictional novel, The Grapes of Wrath was published by John Steinbeck about the Okies from Oklahoma. This book describes the Okies through documented personal testimonies and interviews of former teachers, pupils and the superintendent of the school at Weedpatch Camp.

Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade against Child Labor by Russell Freedman (1994) is a book depicting mostly photographs taken by Lewis Hine. In the early 1900's, children all over the country as young as the age of 5, worked in factories, canneries, mills and even their homes in order to help with the family income. Mr. Hine was a teacher turned photographer for the National Child Labor Committee which was established to try and end child labor. This is a really well done biography.

Both books could be used in schools, or they make a great book for summertime reading and learning.

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