dust-bowl_photoWhen 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.

Also recommended:

Books:

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Curtis

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

DVDs (adapted from books):

Grapes of Wrath

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

Sounder

2 Thoughts on “Good Books in Hard Times

  1. Karen on April 15, 2009 at 7:44 am said:

    Oh, I remember reading the Five Little Peppers. I loved them. And I had forgotten about Mrs. Wiggs and the Cabbage Patch. Your post made me smile and remember.

  2. Another excellent depression book for young adults is Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse.

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