Monday, December 23, 2013

MMGM-- The Great American Dust Bowl

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday at Anastasia Suen's blog. Instead of having to visit lots of different blogs, all of the nonfiction posts will be at Nonfiction Monday, although I am having some trouble getting my reviews posted there, since I'm still such a digital immigrant!
16158179Brown, Don. The Great American Dust Bowl
October 8th 2013 by HMH Books for Young Readers 

This graphic novel style book has the most complete and easy to understand explanation of the reason that the Dust Bowl occurred, and also how devastating it was. I had no idea that the overfarming of the plains with the newly invented gas driven plow in order to provide Europe with wheat after WWI led to such severe erosion, nor did I understand the immensity of the dust clouds or the devastation they caused. This is an excellent accompaniment to any book about the Great Depression, and one that could easily be read aloud to a class. 

I should have a new book on the Great Depression to go with this, but instead I will mention this out of print title. It's the best book I've ever read on the era, and is available for about 75 cents at if you're not picky about the condition not being perfect. Review from November 27, 2007:

Milton Meltzer. Tough Times. 
October 15th 2007, Clarion Books 

This is a thin historical novel, but it should not be underestimated. It is the rawest and most personal account of living through the depression that I have ever read. When I was done, I thought "This is autobiographical!", and sure enough, Meltzer was born in 1915, making him 16 when this book was set. We should all write so well at 92! (Meltzer passed away on September 19, 2009.)

The details of this book were breath taking. What was it like to have your father's business slowly become less and less viable, until you had to get a job instead of going to school? How hard was it to see a professional man you admire lose his job, and your friend also sink into hard times? When everything around you seemed so dire, how did you go on?

All of my students need to read this. Maybe they would complain less. At the very least, they would learn a lot about the Great Depression, something which figured very largely in the lives of my grandparents, and which young people today know so little about.


  1. Before I began a frantic search for a good copy of Tough Times, I checked the catalog and found we had two copies in mint condition (good news and bad news). Thanks for the tip. I'm looking forward to reading it.

  2. Thanks for letting me know about these books. And I had a hard time too, posting to Nonfiction Monday because I'm such a technodinosaur. And tried to do it while working the desk.

  3. And have a very Merry Chirstmas!

  4. I also think The Dust Bowl is a great addition to reading about the Great Depression. Kids will really have a good understanding after reading it. I hadn't heard of Tough Times, but will check it out. Thanks and Merry Christmas.

  5. I didn't know that about The Dust Bowl either. I definitely need to read this book. It's on my GN to-read pile.

  6. The Great American Dust Bowl is in my to read pile, and I'm so excited. I am loving all the nonfiction and historical graphic novels that are being published. This is a whole new way for readers to access a wealth of knowledge that might otherwise seem boring or intimidating to some readers.

  7. I cannot wait to read The Great American Dustbowl. Ever since I read Out of the Dust, I have been fascinated. Looking forward to a GN that will hopefully make kids fascinated too.

    Happy reading this week! :)
    And happy holidays!

  8. The Great Dust Bowl seems like a book that my 12 year old daughter should be getting into. Looks like it would be a great companion book to some of the text books that she's reading for class.