Picture Books About the Great Depression

Rudy Rides the Rails by Chris Ellison

This story from the Tales of Young Americans series is about the hoboes who road the rails during the Great Depression, and it is full of information about how they traveled, ate, worked, and lived.. We especially liked learning about the signs the hoboes would use to communicate with each other.

The Lucky Star by Judy Young

Another great story from the Tales of Young Americans series (I highly recommend this series!). This fictional story gives you a child’s perspective on the hardships that families experienced during the Depression. This is a very engaging and uplifting book about making the best of hard times.

My Heart Will Not Sit Down by Mara Rockliff

This is a sweet story about a young girl in Camaroon who decides to raise money for the hungry children in New York during the Depression. It is a fictional story that was inspired by a real donation from Camaroon.

Ruby’s Hope: A Story of How the Famous “Migrant Mother” Photograph Became the Face of the Great Depression by Monica Kulling

This is a fictional account of Dorothea Lange’s encounter with the woman who became the “Migrant Mother.” It includes a lot of good information about the Dustbowl, Route 66, and the migrant farmers. This is a pleasant and interesting read.

Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Great Depression by Carole Boston Weatherford

This is a short biography of Dorothea Lange in picture-book form. It includes information on Dorothea as a child and the obstacles she overcame. Very interesting and easy to read.

Lucky Beans by Becky Birtha

This is a fictional story, but is based on the real experiences of the author’s grandmother during the Great Depression. This is a great window into the life of a child during the Depression years.

Born and Bread in the Great Depression by Jonah Winter and Kimberly Bulcken Root

This is a sweet retelling of the childhood memories of the author’s father who grew up in East Texas during the Great Depression. Gives some interesting details about the way life was, such as men running footraces to compete for limited opportunities for work.

Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock

This book is beautifully written; it would be a great source of copywork! This true account of Dorothea Lange touches on her personal struggles and triumphs, as well as the sorrow and poverty that she documented during the Great Depression.


Summer of the Tree Army: A Civilian Conservation Corps Story by Gloria Whelan

This is another Tales of Young Americans story. I didn’t find this story to be as well-written as the other books in the series, but it is worth reading. It might be the only children’s story book about the CCC, which is an easy introduction to the social programs introduced by FDR during the Great Depression.

Books by Horseback : A Librarian’s Brave Journey to Deliver Books to Children by Emma Carlson Berne

Though this is a fictional story, it is based on real librarians who delivered books on horseback to remote areas. The mobile library program was another Depression era program designed to create jobs. Lovely little story with great factual info at the end.

A Boy Named FDR : How Franklin D. Roosevelt Grew Up to Change America by Kathleen Krull

This is an excellent book on FDR. It is long, but written in such a way that my children stayed engaged and enjoyed it.

Eleanor Makes Her Mark by Barbara Kerley

This book does a great job of introducing children to Eleanor Roosevelt and the many many impactful things she did, including her work to help the poor during the Depression. Interesting, engaging, and succinct all at once!

Voices of the Dustbowl by Sherry Garland

There aren’t many children’s books that focus on the dustbowl, but this one does a great job of giving a sample of the many ways that people suffered due to this ecological disaster. The explanation in the back of the book is also full of great information.

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart

Sweet story about a young girl living during the Great Depression. Gives a little glimpse into life during Depression times. The main character buoys her community with optimism, generosity, and love. 

Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler

I love this story! Based on the real experiences of the author’s grandmother during the Great Depression, this story is a beautiful and sweet tribute to the power of family and love in times of hardship.

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