Hidden Gems: Children of the Dustbowl

For me, one of my absolutely favorite times of the day is read aloud time.  Sometimes I have students make suggestions, but other times I picked the book.  Hidden Gems is a new blog series that will feature great read alouds and mentor texts that students will LOVE - but would probably not pick on their own.

Children of the Dustbowl is a Hidden Gem of a nonfiction book. This book is an engaging read aloud for upper elementary students. Post discusses the book in detail.
At least once a year, I read a nonfiction book to the class.  A few students in your class probably love nonfiction and read the genre frequently - but the others hardly ever pick up a nonfiction book unless they are forced.  The ones that read nonfiction often have a topic they love - World War II, animals, space - and read a lot on that one topic, but they don't often explore the genre.

As you know, I really love social studies.  Imagine my surprise when I realized that social studies was just frequently not being taught!  I am not blaming teachers - once the high stakes testing rolled in, teachers were often told to leave social studies if they were crunched for time because "it wasn't tested."  Wow.

Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weed Patch Camp by Jerry Stanley is a book that both you and your class will enjoy.  It ties in with some many experiences kids are going through - including the recession, bullying, and poverty.  It is a story of hope, something a lot of students in our Title 1 schools need.  Weed Patch Camp was a camp for the Okie families that moved to California during the Dust Bowl.  Those families were treated as outsiders and were not welcomed into the communities.

Superintendent Leo Hart decided to do something about the situation.  He built a school for the children of Weed Patch Camp.  This book talks about how he found materials for the school as well as the struggles the teachers and students faced.  The book is loaded with pictures that help students understand what it was like.

Your class may moan and groan when you pull out this book, but I guarantee that it won't take long before they are begging you to read more!

Next week, Caitlin from The Room Mom will feature another great book!

Do you have any suggestions for nonfiction books that students love?


  1. I teach The Bread Winner every year by Arvella Whitmore-- it takes place during the Depression. A family loses their farm and move to shanty-town. The daughter saves the family by starting a bread business out of the house. The students LOVE it.


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