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Shutting Out the Sky: Life in the Tenements…
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Shutting Out the Sky: Life in the Tenements of New York, 1880-1924

by Deborah Hopkinson

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The book gives a detailed account of what it would have been like to be an immigrant in the late 1800s. There are five main stories about the lives of immigrants as well as historical documents and photographs from this time period. The author depicts each immigrant's individual struggle to make a new life in America. Hopkinson's portrayal of what families faced - poverty, low wages, terrible working conditions, unsafe tenements - is told in a way that even upper elementary students can understand. It is a wealth of information. ( )
  SuPendleton | Jun 25, 2014 |
This book takes place from 1880-1924. It is about the immigrants starting a new life in New York. The book discusses seven different stories about immigrant experiences coming to America. The purpose for immigrants coming depending on the country they were coming from. Some reasons were that people were convinced emigration was the only way to leave poverty and to get an education. Some cultures/religions did not allow it's members to take part in high level education. "America offered a chance to escape grinding poverty." This book discusses the challenges that people are faced with when living in such close quarters with people of mixed cultures and values.
  kvail | Mar 15, 2014 |
Hopkinson follows the integration of five immigrants from various places in Europe as they move to America and try to make a life for themselves. Touching photographs and quotes from the immigrants' diaries makes this book a personal journey the reader can connect with. Topics include work, living conditions, eating habits, child labor, education, and English acquisition.
  AshleyWheeler | May 29, 2013 |
New Copy
  npedcmc | Oct 31, 2012 |
I chose this book because I have been interested and studying the history of immigration in the U.S. for some time. Yet, I had never read about the topic through the perspective of children. This perspective makes the experience more compelling.
This book is broken up into chapters with catchy titles such as "Everyone Worked On" and "On the Streets: Pushcarts, Pickles and Play." Each chapter discusses a different topic relevant in the lives of child immigrants from 1880 to 1924. This book acknowledges numerous challenges they faced: from the difficult journey, to discrimination and assimilation, homelessness or cramped tenement life, balancing school and work, poverty, sacrificing in order to save up for family members arrival, and language difficulties. However, the book also addresses the fun or interesting parts of a new life, such as eating new foods, games played and new experiences. All of these topics are discussed extensively through personal stories from 5 immigrants from different European countries. Left out are the stories of immigrants from other parts of the world, including the voices of second generation immigrants during this time period. Also the focus is in the region of New York. While limited in scope, I don't think this is necessarily I flaw. I think instead, a teacher would need to provide further information about this time period and immigration policies and experiences before and after.
I like that this book includes significant interesting anecdotes while also explaining important events related to the immigrant experience, such as the work of Jacob Riis and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. ( )
  kharding | Apr 23, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0439375908, Hardcover)

In a stunning nonfiction debut, award-winning author Deborah Hopkinson focuses on five immigrants' stories to reveal the triumphs and hardships of early 1900s immigrant life in New York.

Acclaimed author Hopkinson recounts the lives of five immigrants to New York's Lower East Side through oral histories and engaging narrative. We hear Romanian-born Marcus Ravage's disappointment when his aunt pushes him outside to peddle chocolates on the street. And about the pickle cart lady who stored her pickles in a rat-infested basement. We read Rose Cohen's terrifying account of living through the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, and of Pauline Newman's struggles to learn English. But through it all, each one of these kids keeps working, keeps hoping, to achieve their own American dream.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:35 -0400)

Photographs and text document the experiences of five individuals who came to live in the Lower East Side of New York City as children or young adults from Belarus, Italy, Lithuania, and Romania at the turn of the twentieth century.

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