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Children of the Dust Bowl by Jerry Stanley

Children of the Dust Bowl

by Jerry Stanley

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Also available in audiobook format, which is how I read or listened to it. The book itself is illustrated with photographs on almost every page. Associated with The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck, it's the true story of the relief camp that Steinbeck portrayed as "Weedpatch Camp" in his novel.
  Jquimbey | Jul 5, 2015 |
In Oklahoma the dust bowls were killing people, prevented people from farming and unemployment was high. The "Okies" migrated to California under a false promise of jobs. Once they arrived there were too many workers and not enough jobs and those who did find jobs were earning a poverty wage. Living conditions were unsanitary and disease broke out. In 1936 the Farm Security Administration build camps with better living conditions. One camp was called the Weedpatch Camp. The children of the Weedpatch Camp were discriminated at school and others did not attend school. Superintendent Leo Hart built the Weedpatch School for migrant children. The Weedpatch School then became Sunset School.
  APatricia | May 25, 2015 |
Summary: This book is a story about Oklahoma farmers that traveled to California during the Dust Bowl to find jobs. It tells about the struggles the "Okies" faced once they made it to California. They were often made fun of, being referred to as "dumb Okies", and the Oklahoman children weren't able to go to school. So the Oklahomans ended up building their own school, and it turned out to be a very good school that was accepted into to the school district.

Reflection: I really like this book, because it shows how the Oklahomans took all of the negative feelings and hardships and turned them into positives. This book is a great example of perseverance and determination, both of which are important qualities for students to learn. This book is inspiring, and I hope it would help show students that even despite difficulties, it is possible to achieve great things

Extension: One extension you could do with this is have the students write a reflection and have them tell what they think it would be like if they were going through this. I think this would help them relate to and be more understanding of the people that went through this. Another thing you could have the students do is have them research and find another instance where a situation similar to this occurred, and then have them tell about what they found.
  mikefletch | Apr 15, 2015 |
A very influential reading that shares the struggles of the Oklahoma migrants and the children during the Dust Bowl Era, and one man's empathy. The true story shares the hardships the people endeavored as they migrated from Oklahoma and surrounding states to California in order to escape the dust bowl and find work and a better life. However, the rejection experienced by the migrants once they reached California was inhumane. One man, Leo Hart, was the hardships the children were experiencing and wanted to help, and he and the children of one labor camp buitl a school for the children. I am familiar with the dust bowl era, however, I was completely unaware of the migration that occurred. As an educator, the inspiration of Leo Hart's dedication and the Weedpatch School is a beautiful thing. The story demonstrates the resilience children are capable, regardless of their age. This book was recommended to me and I am very glad I was able to read it ( )
  mcnicol_08 | Apr 6, 2015 |
The story of Weedpatch Camp, in the San Joaquin Valley, is a little known historical moment from the Dust Bowl era. It takes place a little after the mass migration of the Dust Bowl, from 1936-39. If one likes, this book could provide a backdrop to the sequel of Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (if Ruthie and Winfield later attended school). The author has given us a story of what happened around the time Steinbeck's book was being banned and burned in California. While Steinbeck was writing his work, in the midst of the unfolding flood of migration to the San Joaquin Valley by dust bowl refugees, the FSA sought a short-term way to contain the problem of a growing number of squalid Okie squatter camps, by building worker camps that would have better living conditions. The Weedpatch Camp was one of the most important of these camps, situated near the Tehachapi Mountains.

The first three chapters of this book are devoted to the historical underpinnings of the Dust Bowl. There is a useful map that helps the reader visualize the regional extent of the drought that spawned the Dust Bowl. Another map shows the extent of Route 66, the most common route traveled by the migrants. The author also frames the Dust Bowl against the economic backdrop of the Great Depression. Four out of nine chapters are devoted to describing the historical climate and hard-hit life of the refugees. Chapter Five introduces the reader to Leo Hart, the school superintendent of Arvin who initiated the plan to segregate the Okies in an emergency school. Hart, as newly elected superintendent, was under a lot of pressure from the community of Arvin to deal with the "menace" they felt from the Okie children (over-crowded classrooms, increased tax-dollars, fears of disease). Hart didn't have much trouble convincing the public or legislature of the need for an emergency school. The miracle of this school was that it was also a grass-roots effort of the community of displaced migrants. The migrant children built the school, the furniture, and all of the accoutrements. Hart hired some of the best teachers from college, many working on their doctorates, to teach multiple subjects in the school. The curriculum was far broader than any other public school in the county: wood-working, home-ec, husbandry, mechanics (automobile and airplane), farming, sewing, chemistry, and, of course, the three R's. Gradually the surrounding public, who had once despised the Okies, began to envy the education they were receiving in the emergency school. In 1944, the government forced the school to shutdown, based on the evaluation of the state attorney general, whose opinion was that an emergency could not last more than five years. To everyone's surprise, the stigma that Okie children had once felt was no longer a barrier to integrating them into the public school system. The parents of the community of Arvin were likewise eager to send their children to the "Okie" school.

Throughout this story, the author stresses that "Okie" was not considered a derogatory term by the migrants. Rather, "Okie" gave them a sense of group identity, and stood for their values of strength in the face of adversity. Their efforts at building this school helped to further bolster this positive sense of community, giving the children something to call their own. The author provides a "Where Are They Now" section, that follows the career paths of some of the more successful alumni, showing that some of them grew-up to become successful middle-class citizens. The "Afterword" section concerns the life of Leo Hart, who lived a long and satisfying life considering he had lost a lung and kidney to tuberculosis at a young age. He continued with philanthropic efforts throughout the rest of his life until his death in 1989 (three years before this book was published). In the "Bibliographic Note", Stanley gives credit to Leo Hart, Pete Bancroft and Bob Rutledge for most of the information about the Arvin School that he obtained through personal interviews. Altogether I would highly recommend this book to a young reading audience. It provides trustworthy information, cultural significance (the folk songs and poems of dust bowl migrants are interspersed with the text), and accurate historical information. ( )
  mpresti | Apr 3, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0517880946, Paperback)

Illus. with photographs from the Dust Bowl era. This true story took place at the emergency farm-labor camp immortalized in Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Ostracized as "dumb Okies," the children of Dust Bowl migrant laborers went without school--until Superintendent Leo Hart and 50 Okie kids built their own school in a nearby field.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:31 -0400)

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Describes the plight of the migrant workers who traveled from the Dust Bowl to California during the Depression and were forced to live in a federal labor camp and discusses the school that was built for their children.

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