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Smithsonian Exhibit The Way We Worked coming to Cowan TNSuggested Reading List for Children

Ages 4 - 8

Piggybook, by Anthony Browne.  Random House Children's Books, 1960.
When Mrs. Piggott tires of the endless chores in her workday, she unexpectedly leaves her demanding family home alone.  With the cooking and housework untended, they begin to realize just how much she did for them.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton, Houghton Mifflin Harcouts, 1939.
Although steam shovels are being replaced by more modern machines, Mike Mulligan refuses to consign his beloved Mary Anne to the junk heap.  The respect and dignity he shows towards his long-time partner in this classic story is an important lesson for children.

John Henry:  An American Legend, by Ezra Jack Keats.  Dragonfly Books, 1965.
Through collage art and rhythmic language, Keats portrays John Henry as a heroic man, born with a hammer in his hand, who feels called to help build railroad.

Once Upon a Farm, by Marie Bradby.   Orchard Books, 2002. 
An African-American boy relates the challenges and rewards that come with working the land.  At the end, the boy sadly shares that encroaching suburban development means the end of his family farm and way of life.

Mommies at Work, by Eve Merriam.  Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 1955.
This book examines many different jobs performed by working mothers including conventional jobs (teacher, bank teller) and less conventional ones (assembly line worker, air traffic controller).  Daddies at Work is the companion title.

Uncle Jed's Barber Shop, by Margaree King Mitchell.  Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 1993.
Sarah Jean's Uncle Jed travels the country to cut his customers' hair, and dreams of opening his own barbershop in the 1920s South.  At age 79, after a lifetime of obstacles including segregation and the Great Depression, Jed finally realizes his dream.

Cowboys, by Glen Rounds.  Holiday House, Inc., 1991.
The author captures the daily work of ordinary cowboys in Montana country.  The story follows a cowboy from sunup to bedtime as he rounds up cattle, kills and rattlesnake, and plays cards in the bunkhouse after dinner.

Carlos and the Cornfield / Carlos y la milpa de maiz, by Jan Romero Stevens (Bilingual). Luna Rising, 1995
In order to earn money to buy a pocket knife that he admires in Senor Lopez's store, Carlos agrees to help his father plan el maz (corn).  Carlos comes to understand the rewards of hard work and learns a valuable lesson in listening.

Jalepeno Bagels, by Natasha Wing.  Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 1996.
Pable helps his Mexican American mother and Jewish father during a busy morning work session at their panaderia, or bakery.  Jalapeno bagels are a delicious blend of the two cultures, which he decides to bring to his school's International Day.  The book includes recipes for all the items Pablo helps his parents make.

Ages 4 to 10.

Amelia's Road, by Linda Jacobs Altman. Lee & Low Books, 1993
Amelia is a migrant worker's child who hates what the road means in her life and longs for a stable home.  She ultimately finds peace by planting a treasure box beneath a tree and creating a place somewhere for herself.

Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  HarperCollins Publishers, 1933.
The second book in the Little House series, this story is based on the childhood of Laura's husband, Almanzo Wilder.  It describes the endless chores involved in running the Wilder family farm in upstate New York in the 1860s.

Ages 8 to 12.

The Barn, by Avi
In an effort to fulfill their dying father's last request, nine-year-old Ben and his two siblings construct a barn on their land in the Oregon Territory in 1855.  The process of raising a structure that will make their father proud reveals Ben's intelligence, determination, and underlying fear of being separated from his family.
HarperCollins Publishers, 1996. 

Ages 10 and up.

Once Upon A Farm by Bob Artley.  Pelican Publishing, 2000. 
Bringing to life an almost forgotten time, the author describes the sometimes enjoyable, sometimes arduous aspects of growing up on a farm.  As the book progresses through the seasons, Artley includes details of everyday life and illustrates them with maps and cutaway drawings.


Note:  The publishers provided are current, while the dates are of original publication.

The Way We Worked has been made possible in Cowan,TN by Humanities Tennessee. The Way We Worked, an exhibition created by the National Archives, is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils nationwide.
Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.

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