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Parent & Educator Resources

Thank you for participating in Read Across Lawrence for Kids! We hope you find this resource guide and reading list helpful for exploring this year’s featured title Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm. Click here to download a PDF of this guide.

A comprehensive list of the books mentioned below can be found in our catalog’s Read Across Lawrence for Kids 2013 Great Depression Reading List.


Turtle in Paradise Resources


The Great Depression Reading List


Picture Books and Easy Readers

  • Saving Strawberry Farm by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Rachel Isadora Grades K – 4 During the Great Depression, Davey learns that a neighbor’s property is about to be auctioned, and he rallies his friends, neighbors, and family to help save Strawberry Farm.
  • Potato: A Tale from the Great Depression by Kate Lied Grades K – 4 During the “Great Depression,” a family seeking work finds employment for two weeks digging potatoes in Idaho.
  • Leah’s Pony by Elizabeth Friedrich, illustrated by Michael Garland Grades K – 4 A young girl sells her horse and raises enough money to buy back her father’s tractor, which is up for auction, in this story of a Depression era farm.
  • The Gardener by Sarah Stewart Grades K – 5 A series of letters relating what happens when, after her father loses his job, Lydia Grace goes to live with her Uncle Jim in the city but takes her love for gardening with her.
  • Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building by Deborah Hopkinson and James E. Ransome Grades K – 4 In 1931, a boy and his father watch as the world’s tallest building, the Empire State Building, is constructed, step-by-step, near their Manhattan home.
  • The Babe & I by David Adler, illustrated by Terry Wildener Grades 1 – 4 While helping his family make ends meet during the Depression by selling newspapers, a boy meets Babe Ruth.
  • The Dust Bowl by David Booth, illustrated by Karen Reczuch Grades 2 – 6 A young boy listens to his grandfather’s story of farm life during the Dust Bowl years.
  • Lucky Beans by Becky Birtha, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell Grades 2- 6 During the Great Depression, Marshall, an African American boy, uses lessons learned in arithmetic class and guidance from his mother to figure out how many beans are in a jar in order to win her a new sewing machine in a contest.
  • Dust for Dinner by Ann Turner, illustrated by Robert Barrett Grades 3 – 6 Jake narrates the story of his family’s life in the Oklahoma dust bowl and the journey from their ravaged farm to California during the Great Depression.
  • What You Know First by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Barry Moser Grades 3 – 5 As a family prepares to move away from their farm, the daughter reflects on all the things she loves there so that when her baby brother is older she can tell him what it was like.
  • Rudy Rides the Rails: A Depression Era Story by Dandi Daley Mackall, illustrated by Chris Ellison Grades 3 – 6 In 1932, during the Depression in Ohio, thirteen-year-old Rudy, determined to help his family weather the hard times, hops a train going west to California and experiences the hobo life.


Graphic Novels

  • The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan Grades 3 – 10 In Kansas in the year 1937, eleven-year-old Jack Clark faces his share of ordinary challenges: local bullies, his father’s failed expectations, a little sister with an eye for trouble. But he also has to deal with the effects of the Dust Bowl, including rising tensions in his small town and the spread of a shadowy illness. Certainly a case of “dust dementia” would explain who (or what) Jack has glimpsed in the Talbot’s abandoned barn – a sinister figure with a face like rain. In a land where it never rains, it’s hard to trust what you see with your own eyes, and harder still to take heart and be a hero when the time comes.


  • Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm Grades 3 – 6 In 1935, when her mother gets a job housekeeping for a woman who does not like children, eleven-year-old Turtle is sent to stay with relatives she has never met in far away Key West, Florida.
  • Leo and the Lesser Lion by Sandra Forrester Grades 3 – 6 In Depression-era Alabama, twelve-year-old Mary Bayliss Pettigrew struggles to understand why her beloved older brother, Leo, died and whether she, miraculously, survived for some special purpose.
  • The Wonder of Charlie Anne by Kimberly Newton Fusco Grades 3 – 6 In a 1930s Massachusetts farm town torn by the Depression, racial tension, and other hardships, Charlie Anne and her black next-door neighbor Phoebe form a friendship that begins to transform their community.
  • Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool Grades 5 – 8 Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker is the daughter of a drifter who, in the summer of 1936, sends her to stay with an old friend in Manifest, Kansas, where he grew up, and where she hopes to find out some things about his past.
  • Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis Grades 4 – 7 Ten-year-old Bud, a motherless boy living in Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression, escapes a bad foster home and sets out in search of the man he believes to be his father–the renowned bandleader, H.E. Calloway of Grand Rapids.
  • Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis Grades 4 – 7 With love and determination befitting the “world’s greatest family,” twelve-year-old Deza Malone, her older brother Jimmie, and their parents endure tough times in Gary, Indiana, and later Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression.
  • A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt by C. Coco De Young Grades 3 – 6 Eleven-year-old Margo fulfills a class assignment by writing a letter to Eleanor Roosevelt asking for help to save her family’s home during the Great Depression.
  • The Gawgon and The Boy by Lloyd Alexander Grades 4 – 7 In Depression-era Philadelphia, when eleven-year-old David is too ill to attend school, he is tutored by the unique and adventurous Aunt Annie, whose teaching combines with his imagination to greatly enrich his life.
  • Macaroni Boy by Katherine Ayres Grades 3 – 6 In Pittsburgh in 1933, sixth-grader Mike Costa notices a connection between several strange occurrences, but the only way he can find out the truth about what’s happening is to be nice to the class bully. Includes historical facts.
  • On the Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells Grades 5 – 8 Oscar Ogilvie is living with his dad in a house at the end of Lucifer Street in Cairo, Illinois, when world events change his life forever. The great stock market crash has rippled across the country, and the bank takes over their home. Oscar’ dad is forced to head west in search of work, and Oscar must move in with his no-nonsense aunt Carmen. Oscar’s days are filled with boredom, until he witnesses a crime so stunning that it catapults him into a miraculous, time-hopping train journey.
  • Tennyson by Lesley M.M. Blume Grades 3 – 6 After their mother abandons them during the Great Depression, eleven-year-old Tennyson Fontaine and her little sister Hattie are sent to live with their eccentric Aunt Henrietta in a decaying plantation house outside of New Orleans.
  • Rose’s Journal: The Story of a Girl in the Great Depression by Marissa Moss Grades 3 – 5 Rose keeps a journal of her family’s difficult times on their farm during the days of the Dust Bowl in 1935.
  • American Girl Kit 1934 (Six Book Series) by Valerie Tripp, illustrated by Walter Rane Grades 3 – 5 When her father’s business closes because of the Great Depression forcing Kit to make changes in her life, the nine-year-old responds with resourcefulness.
  • Christmas After All: The Great Depression Diary of Minnie Swift by Katherine Lasky Grades 4 – 8 In her fictionalized journal, eleven-year-old Minnie Swift recounts how her family dealt with the difficult times during the Depression and how the arrival of an orphan from Texas changed their lives in Indianapolis just before Christmas 1932.
  • A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck Grades 4 – 8 A boy recounts his annual summer trips to rural Illinois with his sister during the Great Depression to visit their larger-than-life grandmother.
  • A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck Grades 4 – 8 In 1937, during the Depression, fifteen-year-old Mary Alice, initially apprehensive about leaving Chicago to spend a year with her fearsome, larger-than-life grandmother in rural Illinois, gradually begins to better understand and admire her grandmother’s unusual qualities.
  • Arly’s Run by Robert Newton Peck Grades 4 – 8 Arly, an orphan in search of a home and a family, escapes from a brutal migrant labor camp, joins a traveling religious show, and battles a devastating Florida hurricane.
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor Grades 5 – 9 A black family living in Mississippi during the Depression of the 1930s is faced with prejudice and discrimination which its children do not understand.
  • Nothing to Fear by Jackie French Koller Grades 4 – 7 When his father moves away to find work and his mother becomes ill, Danny struggles to help his family during the Great Depression.
  • Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse Grades 5 – 9 In a series of poems, fifteen-year-old Billie Jo relates the hardships of living on her family’s wheat farm in Oklahoma during the dust bowl years of the Depression.