Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp



Stanley, Jerry. Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp. 1992. Lexile 1120.

This wonderful narrative focuses on a unique project in California in 1940.  While it gives background about the Dust Bowl, the focus is a school built and maintained by students, with help from adults. The Farm Security Administration erected a number of camps in the San Joaquin valley in California to provide emergency shelter for “Okies,” poor farmers and their families who had been driven out of Oklahoma by the dust storms. When such a camp was built near a town called Weedpatch, the town's hostile residents didn’t want to finance a school for the newcomers’ children. Local school superintendent Leo Hart spearheaded a movement for the children to get educated by building their own school along with teachers and volunteers. The children practiced useful skills and gained self-confidence as they learned carpentry, plumbing, and wiring; some learned agricultural skills to grow food for the schoolchildren. Black-and-white photographs show them hard at work in this inspiring, highly readable story. Bibliographic essay and index.

Reading Std #9 for grades 6-8:Compare/contrast texts on similar themes or topics.  Have students compare the scope, structure and visual components of this book with the equally excellent but longer and broader Years of Dust: The Story of the Dust Bowl by Albert Marrin.