When times are tough, it helps to read about those who have gone through even more desperate times – with grace and courage.
Early settlers and homesteaders lived near the margin; they felt fortunate if they had the very basics of life (in the face of drought, pestilence, and economic collapse). Books like Nothing to Do But Stay by Carrie Young and the Laura Ingalls Wilder books immerse the reader in the hard life of the pioneer on the plains.
Books with a documentary slant are Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich and Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression by Studs Terkel. Both made an important societal impact and yet are highly readable.
Poverty was a fact of life at the turn of the century; poor families lived without any kind of safety net. This was a common theme in early American childrens’ literature. Two tight-knit families who lived in “ramshackle cottages” and faced eviction, illness and other disasters with humor are the Five Little Peppers series by Margaret Sidney and Mrs. Wiggs and the Cabbage Patch by Alice Rice.
All these books provide context and role models for today’s tough times.
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Curtis
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
DVDs (adapted from books):