Reading List for Young Adults,
Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch.
In this sad novel, sixteen-year-old Rose Nolan, newly arrived from Ireland, finds work at New York City's Triangle Shirtwaist Factory shortly before a 1911 fire in which 146 employees died.
Random House Children's Books, 2002. 256 pages.
Hope Was Here, by Joan Bauer
This is the uplifting story of a rootless sixteen-year-old named Hope and her aunt Addie. They finally settle in a rural Wisconsin town, where Hope learns about politics, friendship, love, and live while waitressing at a local diner.
Penquin Group, 2005. 192 pages.
Captains Courageous: A Story of the Grand Banks, by Rudyard Kipling
This is the classic tale of a pampered fifteen-year-old millionaire's son who is rescued by New England fishermen and put to work on their boat. The boy learns to adjust to his rough new life, and returns to his parents an industrious and considerate young man. NuVision Publications, 1897. 144 pages.
Summer Soldiers by Susan Hart Lindquist.
When the fathers of a small sheep ranching community in California leave to fight in World War I, the teenage sons are left to manage the ranches. Eleven-year-old Joe and his friends must grow up quickly as they contend with their new responsibilities as well as the town bullies. Random House Children's Books, 1999. 192 pages.
Lyddie, by Katherine Paterson.
Already considered a classic, this novel tells the story of an impoverished Vermont farm girl in the 1940s who is hired out as a servant to help pay off her family farm's debts. Determined to gain her independence, ten-year-old Lyddie instead becomes a factory worker in Lowell, Massachusetts, a job that soon reveals its own set of hardships. Penguin Group, 1995. 192 pages.
Alida's Song, by Gary Paulsen
A fourteen-year-old boy who has been neglected by irresponsible parents spends a wonderful summer in Minnesota with his grandmother, who arranges a summer job for him on the farm where she cooks. Farm life offers good food, peaceful evenings, and the camaraderie and routine of hard work, giving the boy strength and faith in himself. Random House Children's Books, 1999. 96 pages.
Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan
Thirteen-year-old Esperanza and her newly widowed mother are forced to leave their comfortable existence in Mexico to work in a Mexican-American migrant worker camp in the San Joaquin Valley during the Great Depression. Esperanza is not ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance, but when their new life is threatened, she must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances. Random House Children's Books, 2003. 192 pages.
Jesse, by Gary Soto
An artistic and religious seventeen-year-old is forced to work as a field laborer while he attends junior college. In this quiet story of hope and faith, Jesse perseveres amid family dysfunction, ethnic injustice, romantic attractions, and confusion about his priorities and goals. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006. 180 pages
Voices from the Fields, by S. Beth Atkin
Photographs, poems in both Spanish and English, and interviews with nine children from California's Salinas Valley reveal the hardships and hopes of Mexican American migrant farm workers and their families. They tell of working in the fields, the importance of family, problems of gangs and prejudice, and their efforts to become educated so that the next generation will have better opportunities. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2000. 96 pages.
Where the Action Was: Women War Correspondents in World War II, by Penny Colman
Maps, newspaper headlines, and photographs illustrate how, in spite of U.S. military regulations that forbade women to cover combat, these brave female journalists worked the front lines in World War II and laid a path for others to follow. Random House Children's Books, 2002. 128 pages.
Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II, by Penny Colman
From 1942 to 1945 more than eighteen million women, many of whom had never before held a job, entered the work force to help the U.S. fight World War Ii. Illustrated through first-hand accounts, propaganda posters, and period photographs, their unprecedented participation changed the course of history for American women and the country as a whole. Random House Children's Books, 1998. 128 pages
From the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend: A Short, Illustrated History of Labor in the United States,
by Priscilla Murolo and A. B. Chitty.
In this popular history appropriate for high-school age students, Murolo and Chitty cover labor in the U.S. from precolonial times to the late 1960s, exploring the complex relationships between work, gender, ethnicity, race, and immigration. From African indentured servants forced into slavery to Chinese railroad laborers, steel-mill workers, Wobblies, and domestics, the authors put a human face on the places, events, and social conditions that shaped the evolution of organized labor.
New Press, 2001. 384 page.
Note: The publishers provided are current, while the dates are of original publication.