Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Great Depression

With the economy figuring so largely in the news, and so much talk of "the next great depression", I pulled out a couple of books that I thought children should read. Take a look at these titles and then answer: have any of the pundits really ever heard of The Great Depression? Do they understand how bad it was?

Down Cut Shin Creek, by Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer has vivid photographic evidence of how bad things were. People didn't even have intact clothing. Librarians traveled for miles in the rain through the hills of Appalachia to bring people worn out magazines and newspapers. My budget cuts pale in comparison. This is one of my favorite nonfiction titles.

No Promises in the Wind (1970) by Irene Hunt tells the story of three boys who are sent away from home to earn their own living because their parents don't have enough money to feed them.
There are many dangers to living on one's own, even if it may seem exciting at first. In Cynthia DeFelice's Nowhere to Call Home (1999) , Frances' family loses everything. She is offered a chance to live with an aunt but chooses to become a hobo and ride the rails instead. While this is interesting at first, Frances quickly sees how desperate people are who are forced to live this sort of life.

Other notable titles on this topic include Milton Meltzer's Tough Times (2007), Karen Hesse's Out of the Dust (1997) and Jeannette Ingold's Hitch (2005).


  1. I've never read any of the titles you mention here, but remember in high school reading (of course) Grapes of Wrath and maybe another title about the Depression times. Knowing several elderly people who can still talk about that time helps put things into perspective now: imagine... life with no cell phone, no cable, no iPod, no computer... no television, no fast food, no gogurt. I don't think most people quite "get" what a true depression would be like.

  2. Nice timing! I'm just finishing my Titlewave order today and I have a teacher who's going to do Bud, Not Buddy as a class novel and wanted some Depression era books. Thanks for the tips, as always.

  3. Anonymous4:48 PM EDT

    I have loved Irene Hunt's work since I first read it in junior high. I think this particular book resonates just as clearly today, and in light of our current economical situation....perhaps more ominous than anyone would like to believe.

    I love your blog because you do such a nice mix of the old and the new. :)