Living Books for Teaching About the Great Depression

Our new history topic is the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.  For studying history we prefer story books about that time period in history.

Far from dry facts and boring textbooks the storybooks draw the boys in with their beautiful illustrations and the relationship between the characters.  My kids can put themselves in other people's places much more easily and relate better to historical time periods with the help of wonderful historical fiction books (though sometimes we read biographies too).

Today I thought I'd share all these wonderful books we've found for studying the Great Depression

  So far we just LOVE them!

  • Born and Bread in the Great Depression: A cute story told by the perspective of a boy recounting all the tales of the Great Depression told to him by his father of what it was like growing up during the depression.  It paints a sad story of what life was like but reminds us all of how important it is to enjoy the little moments that money can't buy; time spent with family and memories being made.  

  • Leah's Pony: The story of how one little girl gave up her prized pony to help her family out during the dust bowl inspiring the whole town to help her family keep what belonged to them.  

  • The Hallelujah flight: The story, based on a true story, of two African American pilots who wanted to fly cross country to inspire people down on their luck because of the Great Depression.  Along the way they encountered bad weather, prejudice and a lack of supplies but with determination made it across the continent and into history books (though amazingly enough I've never heard of them). 

  • Finding Daddy: A Story of the Great Depression: A touching story about a family that lost everything during the Great Depression; including each other.  Feeling like he was a burden to the family the little girl's father left them.  She went in search of him and together they found that singing together was a great way to earn a little extra money to help see them through.  

  • The Carpenter's Gift: We actually read this story last Christmas and at the time it struck me as both a wonderful Christmas story and a story of how people helped each other out during the great depression.  It's a story about the Rockefeller Christmas tree and how it changed one boys life.  

  • The Dust Bowl: This story is told by the grandfather to his grandson explaining how even though they were having a bad crop growing year it had once been much, much worse.  He recounts stories of the dust bowl and the locusts that came and ate all the crops; giving his family hope of holding on until time improved. 

  • Uncle Jed's Barbershop: This story takes place right at the very beginning of the Great Depression when the banks failed.  Uncle Jed was an African American barber with grand hopes of hoping his own shop before the banks failed and he lost all of the money he had saved.  Undeterred he decided to start over and kept right on cutting customers hair even if they could only pay him with a hot meal or some eggs.  He finally opened his own shop when he was 79; just like he always dreamed.  A wonderful story about perseverance and determination!

  • Rudy Rides the Rails: With a quarter of a million teenagers leaving home to ride the rails as hoboes searching for jobs, pay and a better life, this story tells the tail of what it was like to be one of those teenagers leaving home.  They worked when they could and relied on the kindness of strangers when they couldn't.  In the back of the book we learned about the various signs hoboes used to communicate with one another that they etched onto trees for where to go and find food, help, and work. 

  • Potato: A Tale from the Great Depression: Tells of how one family managed to survive during the great depression by picking leftover potatoes from a farm and using them to trade for all sorts of necessities until other work could be found. 

      Many of these books had more information about the Great Depression in the foreword or an author's note in the back for more factual information.  We enjoyed looking through the photographic times line of events for the era from 1929-1941. 


    1. My very favorite time period to read about! Thanks so much for sharing this on What to Read Linkup!

      1. You're welcome. We had such a great time reading all of these books and we're always happy to share something that worked well for us.

    2. I love this list of books on the depression! Thanks for sharing. :-)


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