The Great Depression Books for Kids

Learn about the Great Depression through these engaging Great Depression books for elementary and middle school students.
Learn about the Great Depression through these engaging Great Depression books for elementary and middle school students.

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The Great Depression Books for Kids

These books are loosely listed by age-appropriateness, starting with early elementary and ending with middle school.

FICTION

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

Kit is a young girl growing up in the midst of the Depression. This series gives an accurate look at life during the Great Depression great for early elementary students. There are six books in Kit’s stories, plus mysteries and an introduction to the depression called Welcome to Kit’s World.

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

Written in free verse poem, young Billie Jo struggles with losing her mother and her temperamental father. This is a good Newbery winner that offers a look into the Great Depression.

A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck

In this collection of short stories, two siblings, Joey and Alice, go to live with their grandmother in the country for a week every summer.

Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck

During the Great Depression, 15-year-old Mary is sent to live with her crazy grandma on a farm – a stark contrast to life in Chicago. This Newbery winner was not my favorite, but it has good reviews. It’s the sequel to A Long Way From Chicago.

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

It’s 1936, in Flint, Michigan, and when 10-year-old Bud (not Buddy) decides to hit the road to find his father, nothing can stop him. This is a fun book great for all ages.

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

12 year old Deza Malone has a great family and is the smartest girl in her class. Her life is going well, until the Depression drives her father away in search of work. After not hearing from him for several weeks, Deza, her mother, and her brother set out on a journey to find him. This novel tackles tough subjects like prejudice, racism, and poverty well and I’d highly recommend it for grades 5+. Grab the book study here.

Christmas After All by Katherine Lasky (Dear America)

Set in Indianapolis, Indiana, twelve-year-old Minnie Swift must navigate through the Depression during Christmastime. I haven’t read this one, but I’ve read several others in the series. Sometimes they may cover mature topics, so it’s best for grades 5+.

Survival in the Storm by Katelan Janke (Dear America)

Author Katelan Janke won a Dear America writing contest in sixth grade and had Survival in the Storm published as a 14 year old. Set in Texas in 1935, Grace Edwards and her family must endure the horrible Dust Bowl. Will her family farm survive?

The Journal of CJ Jackson: A Dust Bowl Migrant by William Durbin (My Name is America)

This series is the “boy” companion to the Dear America series and it is written in a journal form. A young farmer and his family are forced to relocate to California because of the Dust Bowl.

Nothing to Fear by Jackie French Koller

Thirteen-year-old Danny and his family are struggling during the Depression. After his father leaves, it’s up to Danny and his mom to make ends meet. The title comes from, “there is nothing to fear but fear itself.” The cover of this one is boring, but it’s an engaging read for middle school students.

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Abilene is sent to live with a friend over the summer while her father works. She stops her journey in Manifest, Kansas, in order to learn more about her father. This is a lovely story of loss and redemption, but best for grades 6+. Moon Over Manifest was awarded the 2011 Newbery medal.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

This Newbery Award winning classic tells the story of nine-year-old Cassie Logan as she battles racism in Mississippi during the Depression.

NONFICTION

What was the Great Depression? by Janet Pascal (Who Was? Series)

There’s a reason this series is popular among elementary students around America. These books offer an informative glimpse into a variety of subjects.

Dust to Eat by Michael Cooper

The Dust Bowl was a severe drought during the Depression that caused thousands of Americans to move to California. This book is brief but well written and great for grades 6+.

Crash by Marc Favreau

Crash is a nonfiction book that tells the story of the Great Depression through the Americans who lived through it. From factory workers to the life of President FDR, Crash is engaging and memorable and includes many vivid pictures to bring the stories to life. Grab the book study here.

For all of my historical book and movie lists, visit learnincolor.com/history.

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