Monday, January 22, 2007

Bread and Roses, Too

Paterson, Katherine. 2006. BREAD AND ROSES, TOO. New York: Clarion. ISBN 9780618654796. [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

Based on a historical event of the “Bread and Roses” strike of 1912 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, BREAD AND ROSES, TOO, recounts the injustice of the industrial revolution regarding its workers and the need for the Union to support its members. Set in the streets and tenements, it is a powerful portrait of poverty and hunger. Jake Beale, a young a mill worker, participates in the strike and is subsequently forced to live in the streets and steal food and money in order to survive. Rosa Serutti’s mother and sister are mill workers who have chosen to strike even if it brings hardship. When concerned parents in the town send their children to cities in the region who support the Union, Jake, an orphan, sneaks aboard the train and convinces Rosa to let him be her “brother.” She takes pity on him, and the two join forces for the duration of the strike.

In the novel, Paterson’s character Rosa is the one who creates the sign that reads
“We Want Bread, And We Want Roses, Too,” the slogan that eventually gave the strike its name. Read the “Bread and Roses” protest song written by the Union and discuss the phrase’s significance.

Other books about the immigrant experience:
Freedman, Russell. IMMIGRANT KIDS. ISBN 0590465651
Hurwitz, Johanna. FARAWAY SUMMER. ISBN 0380732564
Sandler, Martin W. IMMIGRANTS. ISBN 0064467449

Other books about the labor unions:
Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. KIDS ON STRIKE. ISBN 0395888921
Meltzer, Milton. BREAD AND ROSES: THE STRUGGLE OF AMERICAN LABOR, 1865-1915. ISBN 0735102163

By Becky Laney

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