Life During the Great Depression
depictions in children's books

Teaching about life during the Great Depression does not have to be a downer!  Most children's books on the era provide a balanced account--portraying the harsh realities and tremendous sacrifices as well as accounts of compassionate and brave individuals who were determined to survive in this harsh time.

None of the children's books listed below focus entirely on the hardships of the era, and none of the books will leave the reader with a sense of despair and hopelessness. Instead, these 'best books' convey the reality of life during the Great Depression, but also leave the reader better for having read it.

Kids Books on Life During the Great Depression

Potato:  A Tale from
Great Depression

(simple story of life during
the great depression for
a family on a potato farm)
by Kate Lied

Kindergarten - 2nd grade

The Gardener
(Caldecott book set during
the Great Depression about a
girl who brightens the lives
of those around her!)

by Sarah Stewart
Kindergarten - 2nd grade

Sky Boys
(a young boy describes
the building of the Empire
State Building during the
Great Depression)

by Deborah Hopkinson
Kindergarten - 4th grade

Rose's Journal
The Story of a Girl in
the Great Depression
by Marissa Moss
3rd grade - 5th grade

Rudy Rides the Rails
(a teenaged boy rides the
rails looking for work, and
meets many people along
the way -- great snapshot!)
by Dandi Daley Mackall

3rd grade - 6th grade

The Babe and I
(during the great depression,
a boy finds out his dad is
unemployed so he becomes
a news boy at Yankee
Stadium to help his family)
by David Adler

Kindergarten - 3rd grade

Children of the
Great Depression
(a "stirring photo-essay"
about life during the
great depression, especially
focusing on children)
by Russell Freedman

4th grade - 8th grade

Christmas After All
The Great Depression Diary of
Minnie Swift (Dear America)

by Kathryn Lasky
4th grade - 8th grade

Turtle in Paradise
(Newbery winning book
about life during the great
depression in Key West)
by Jennifer Holm

3rd grade - 5th grade

Moon Over Manifest
(Newbery Medal winner about
a girl's summer spent in her
father's hometown while he
works his new railroad job)
by Clare Vanderpool
5th grade - 8th grade

Long Way from Chicago
(funny story about kids
visiting their cooky grandma
during the Great Depression
in her sleepy Illinois town
by Richard Peck
4th grade - 8th grade

A Year Down Yonder
(sequel to Long Way from
Chicago--full of more
crazy adventures with
Grandma Dowdell)

by Richard Peck
5th grade - 8th grade

Bud, Not Buddy
(a boy runs away from
his foster home to find his
father. Newbery Award
winning historical fiction)
by Christopher Paul Curtis

5th grade - 8th grade

Six Days in October
The Stock Market Crash
of 1929

by Karen Blumenthal
7th grade - 12th grade

other books set during the Great Depression

Here are several other well-recommended children's books about or set during the Great Depression.

  • American Girl Kit, 1934 by Valerie (Gr. 3-6)
  • Macaroni Boy by Katherine Ayres (Gr. 4-7)
  • The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis (Gr. 4-7)
  • All the Earth, Thrown to the Sky by Joe Lansdale  (Gr. 7+)

We don't have dedicated review pages for these books because we haven't had a chance to read yet, but we wanted to let you know about them.  To learn more about any of these books, check them out on Amazon.