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Multi-media bibliography on The Great Depression

The purpose of this project is to compile a bibliography of materials related to the Great Depression, including the New Deal and the Dust Bowl. I believe that history is best taught by utilizing a variety of media, including print, film, and audio, including fiction and non-fiction elements. Elementary and middle school history teachers would benefit the most from this collection, as the intended audience is ten to twelve year olds. However, I also believe a public library could use this collection as it would help students with research projects or those simply interested in history. It was difficult to find material on this subject that was directed toward the specified age group, so teachers should be advised to review all content before using it in the classroom, as each teacher and school will have their own standards by which to judge the appropriateness of the content.

Fiction books:

Moss, Marissa. Rose’s Journal: The Story of a Girl in the Great Depression. San Diego: Silver Whistle/Harcourt, 2001. Print.

Though Rose is a fictional character, Moss creates a highly educational and factual book about the Great Depression centered on her. Written in journal form and packed with photographs, doodles, and comics, this book easily captures young readers attentions. Rose’s Journal is filled with pop culture and contemporary news, as well as a realistic account of rural farm life.

Hesse, Karen. Out of the Dust. New York: Scholastic Press, 1997. Print.

When Billie Jo was born, her father hoped for a boy. When he realized she was a girl, he took little notice of her. She eventually wins over his affections by helping with the farming and daily work. When her mother becomes pregnant again, they all wish for a boy to fill the family. However, when the drought strikes and the earth dries up, Billie Jo must learn how to cope with tragedy. Written in beautiful free-verse form, Hesse has created a sad, but realistic view of life during the Dust Bowl.

Non-Fiction Books:

Freedman, Russell. Children of the Great Depression. New York: Clarion Books, 2005. Print.

“His prose is straightforward and easily comprehensible, making sense of even the complexities of the stock-market crash. The use of primary sources is outstanding. This is a book told by chorus, featuring the voices of those who endured the Depression, and is embellished with black-and-white photos by such luminaries as Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, Walker Evans, and Russell Lee. Eight chapters cover the causes of the Great Depression, schooling, work life, migrant work, the lives of children who rode the rails, entertainment, and the economic resurgence of the early ’40s.” – School Library Journal

Nardo, Don. Migrant Mother: How a Photograph Defined the Great Depression. Mankato, MN: Compass Point Books, 2011. Print.

“Occasionally, a single photograph becomes the emblematic image that defines an era, and this quality series tells the stories of four of those iconic pictures. Each book places its subject photo in historical context, profiles the photographer, describes the conditions under which it was taken, and analyzes both its immediate and its continuing impact. The texts include ample background information and details and are enhanced by large photos and sidebars. These books will help students understand the influence of the individual images and the eras they epitomize, making them strong choices.” – School Library Journal

Marrin, Albert. Years of dust: the story of the Dust Bowl. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2009. Print.

An overview of the Dust Bowl, starting with the history of the great plains and covering the events leading up to the dust storms. Plentiful pictures, sidebars, and maps help grab readers’ attentions.

Fiction Film:

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. Dir. Patricia Rozema. Perf. Abigail Breslin, Stanley Tucci, Joan Cusack. New Line Home Video, 2008. DVD.

When Kit’s father loses his car dealership during the height of the Depression, he leaves to find work. While he’s gone, Kit and her mother take in several odd boarders to make some money. A string of robberies occur and Kit takes particular interest when her mother’s lock box is stolen. This movie deals with the agonies of the Depression (hobo camps, foreclosures, and making ends meet), while portraying Kit as character that all children can relate to.

Non-fiction film:

Riding the Rails. Dir. Michael Uys. Perf. James San Jule,  Arvel ‘Sunshine’ Pearson, Rene Champion. PBS, 2003. DVD.

This poignant film tells of teenagers during the Depression who decided to ride trains across the country looking for work and a better life. The kids would have to run and hop on moving trains, hoping they wouldn’t get thrown off by railyard cops or arrested and thrown in jail. They endured cold, miserable nights with empty stomachs. Riding the Rails tells the story of ten teenage hobos, explaining the reasons why they left and what they experienced. Some language.

American experience: Surviving the Dust Bowl. Dir. Chana Gazit. Perf. Liev Schreiber. PBS,  2007. DVD.

In 1931, the rains stopped and massive storms blew dust all across the plains. Wheat farmers, who had been very successful for many years, stayed and fought hard against the constant barrage of dust and dirt. People struggled to survive on little food and crippling disease caused by the dust. Five years later, the government worked to create a program to conserve the soil, and three years later the drought finally broke. This film would pair well with Rose’s Journal by Marissa Moss.

This is a short clip from the University of Houston that depicts the storms that started the Dust Bowl. http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/movie_social_studies_02.html


One of Franklin Delaware Roosevelt’s fireside chats, tackling the issue of the Dust Bowl. Teacher’s could emphasize that all members of the family tuned into these talks, much like we watch the news on the television now. http://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/speeches#fdrs-fireside-chat-on-dust-bowl 

The following interviews from the archives at the University of Illinois depict conditions for students during this time period. Many of these people did not directly feel the pains of the depression, so you can compare their situations with some of the worst. Complete transcripts of the interviews are available, so teachers can compile a few quotes or clips instead of listening to all of them. http://archives.library.illinois.edu/slc/researchguides/oralhistory/depression/depression_oral_histories/


This small collection of photographs depicts life for migrant workers. Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” Photographs in the Farm Security Administration Collection: http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/128_migm.html

This collection includes pictures of women and children, dust storms, farms, migrant workers, the Civilian Conservation Corp, and life in general. http://history1900s.about.com/od/photographs/tp/greatdepressionpictures.htm

This compilation from the History Channel includes photos depicting the Dust Bowl. http://www.history.com/topics/dust-bowl/photos


Classroom materials, including lesson plans. http://newdeal.feri.org/classrm/index.htm

This website shows a collection of letters written from children to the First Lady during the Depression. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/learning_history/children_depression/help_president.cfm

A detailed site about how Central Texas was affected by the Depression. http://www.austincc.edu/lpatrick/his2341/new.html

This website shows the prices of items during the Great Depression. Students can fill out the chart to compare the prices then with prices now. Teachers can introduce the concept of inflation. http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-54463_19268_20778-52530–,00.html

This website contains lesson plans that pair well with Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. It includes quizzes and printables. http://www.scholastic.com/browse/collection.jsp?id=258

The Smithsonian American Art Museum created this virtual exhibit to showcase art from the 1930s. They encourage educators to use this in their discussion of the Great Depression. http://americanart.si.edu/education/picturing_the_1930s/


Historically accurate toys from the Great Depression: http://www.historicalfolktoys.com/guide/depress.html

Teachers can show students what kind of toys children of the Great Depression had to keep them occupied. They can directly contrast the materials and uses of the games to modern day objects.

Lyndsey Myers

Materials for Children

Barbara Immroth

November 26, 2012

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