Winter, Jonah. 2011. BORN AND BRED IN THE GREAT DEPRESSION. Ill. by Kimberly Bulcken Root. New York: Random House. ISBN9780375861970 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]
In poetic form, a boy relates the stories that his father has shared about what it was like to live in East Texas during the Great Depression. The text of this story is both lyrical and matter-of-fact, making this a unique offering to children who might not otherwise understand what it was like to live during such hard times. The young narrator recalls specific brow-raising situations: his father’s feet “got tough as leather” since there was no money for shoes, ten family members shared two beds, his grandfather played banjo minus two fingers that were “gone from a lumber mill accident.”
Dreamy watercolor illustrations help convey the poverty of the time and readers should not miss the author’s family photos from the 1930’s that adorn the end pages. This is an excellent book that recalls bad financial times of the past without analyzing the political and social issues of the time. It reinforces the adaptability of people and children while providing hopeful encouragement of the “blue skies of better days” to come.
While this book reveals historical facts, it also serves as reminder of the importance of passing down stories to younger generations. Encourage children to “interview” their parents or grandparents about what life was like for them during childhood. Incorporate video or web-based tools such as Voicethread to record the discussions.
Other informational books about the Great Depression:
Freedman, Russell. CHILDREN OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION. ISBN 9780547480350
Stanley, Jerry. CHILDREN OF THE DUST BOWL: THE TRUE STORY OF THE SCHOOL AT WEEDPATCH CAMP. ISBN 9780785716754.
By Rebecca S. McKee