The Great Depression for Kids

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The easily accessible text and the fun related activities make The Great Depression for Kids by Carol Mullenbach (Chicago Review Press, July 2015) a fantastic choice for the young student in upper elementary school or older that is interested in learning more about the era in our history. The text covers life before the Great Depression, the causes of the Great Depression, and then life during the Great Depression, both in cities and rural areas. It ends as it talks about how the nation recovered at the start of Word War II. Each chapter in The Great Depression for Kids covered a lot of information, but I felt it easily accessible to the younger reader.

This volume includes 21 activities related to the things happening in the text. For example, there is an explanation on how to “play the stock market” when the text talks about the stock market crash. Paper airplane making is the activity as kids learn about the new developments during the era. An erosion experiment is the activity during the chapter about the dust bowl. In all, the activities seem like simple but engaging ones for upper elementary students to enjoy doing!

As a personal note, I found myself wishing I’d asked my grandparents more about the era before they passed away. The book contained lots of details about life during the era, but I know my grandparent’s stories were unique. It’s interesting how this definitive historical era is now so distant from children’s lives today, even though it was only three generations ago.

Note: I read a digital copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.


Reviewed on June 24, 2015

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • Interesting book as is a comparison between then and now. I’m a depression baby. When I was the age of the youngsters you refer to in your posting, my relatives told me to read “Grapes of Wrath.” Would that book be suggested to youngsters today?

    And I did listen to their stories.

    • I absolutely LOVE The Grapes of Wrath, but I don’t think Upper Elementary school kids would appreciate it yet. I think it’s probably a 7th grade and up (maybe 12 or 13 year old at least) book. I think 9 and 10 year olds would really struggle since it is so intense and has very adult themes. Have you read it?

      If a 9 year old is interested in fiction about the Great Depression era, I’d probably suggest Esperanza Rising (about the migrant worker camps) or Out of the Dust (about living in the Dust Bowl). Both have teenage protagonists, strong text, and an amazing sense of scene. I don’t mean to discredit what a nine-year-old can handle. Some may be ready for Grapes of Wrath. However, so much death and violence is not really a 9-year-old subject, I don’t think. The others I name are probably more age appropriate.

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