Dust to Eat: Drought and Depression in the 1930s
by Michael Cooper

Dust to Eat puts a human face on the tragedy of the great depression and dust bowl by pulling together letters and eloquent eyewitness reports of people who lived through it (including those who fled to California), plus works by John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie.

And, of course, no good book about the great depression and dust bowl would be complete without a multitude of stunning, moving Dorothea Lange pictures gracing the pages (along with many other archival black and white images).

Booklist called this book "an excellent historical account" and SLJ said "despite its descriptions of dust and drought, this book is anything but dry...." This is a great resource for planning lessons about the dust bowl or to give directly to older kids.

We've skimmed this book but not read it. We don't actually use this book in our own classrooms because we teach younger children, but several teachers wrote in to recommend it, so we thought we'd include it anyway.  From what we've seen and heard from teachers of older grades, this book covers both the great depression and dust bowl in an age-appropriate and engaging way.

Dust to Eat
Reading Levels

Interest Level:  Grade 6+
DRA Level:  60-70
Lexile Measure:  1120L
Grade Level Equivalent:  7.4
Guided Reading Level:  W

Note: The intended audience for this book is grades 6 and up.  The majority of children in this range should be able to read this book independently, although some sixth graders may need extra support (This book is written at a reading level that sixth graders in general can read on at the beginning of their sixth grade year, but some sixth graders may not be at that reading level at the start of the year.)

Awards Won by Dust to Eat

  - National Council for Social Studies Notable Book for Young People
  - Golden Kite Award for Best Nonfiction Children’s Book of 2004 (Society of Children’s Book Writers and illustrators)
  - Starred Review by School Library Journal
  - Capitol Choices Children's Book Award for 2005
  - Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices List

See Inside Dust to Eat

Below are sample spreads. Sorry if it's a bit hard to read the text, but these little sample versions should give you an idea of the amount of illustrations and text on the pages.  As you can see, this book skews a little bit older than we usually include on our site. As you can see, it's clearly not a book for little kids!