Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp

Book review by
Tanya Smith, Common Sense Media
Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp Book Poster Image
Powerful story of 1930s Dust Bowl families.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

This book will educate readers about the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and its impact on families, and also get them thinking about some deeper issues like prejudice -- and also why it's important to keep history alive.

Positive Messages

This book will get readers thinking about racism and prejudice -- and the importance of hope.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The core of the book is the story of a remarkable man, Kern County school administrator Leo Hart, who spearheaded an effort to build Weedpatch School, a special institution just for migrant children.

Violence

Violent acts (including arson and property destruction) against migrants and their supporters are mentioned but not detailed. Photographs vividly depict the migrants' squalid living conditions and emotional pain.

Sex
Language

Isolated mild profanity.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that a matter-of-fact writing style and striking photographs combine to tell the intense, personal story of dislocated children and the school they attended. This book will educate readers about the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and its impact on families, and also get them thinking about some deeper issues like prejudice -- and also why it's important to keep history alive. The migrant families and their supporters are victims of violent acts, including arson and property destruction (those these acts are only mentioned, not described). Photographs vividly depict the migrants' squalid living conditions and emotional pain.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bylibraryschoolstudent July 15, 2012

Great history of the Dust Bowl

Excellent description of what the Okies endured during the Dust Bowl and migration to California's central valley. The creation of a school just for the D... Continue reading

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What's the story?

Broke but not broken were the 1930s Dust Bowl families who fled the parched Midwest for the fertile fields of central California. But instead of paradise, what they found was prejudice, hostility, and the indignity of living in a federal labor camp. In CHILDREN OF THE DUST BOWL, vivid black-and-white photographs depict the deplorable conditions migrant families fled, only to find misery once again, in what they had hoped was the promised land of central California. At the core of the book is the story of a remarkable man, Kern County school administrator Leo Hart, who spearheaded an effort to build Weedpatch School, a special institution just for migrant children. The school was such a success that the same adults who wanted the Okie kids thrown out of regular school later begged to let their own children attend Weedpatch School.

Is it any good?

The book's haunting photographs deliver an emotional wallop. Two dirty toddlers stand naked in a metal tub; a broken-down Okie car, piled high with people and possessions, sits on the side of the road. This powerful must-read details the migrants' struggles and the Weedpatch School, and will get readers thinking about the price of prejudice -- and the importance hope. Readers will appreciate learning the fate of many of the children mentioned in the book, and that there are several success stories. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about migration and prejudice. Ask kids: How is a story like this one -- which happened in the 1930s -- relevant to your world today?

  • What do you think of the combination of words and photographs here? How do the pictures add to the story? Would it have been as powerful without them?

Book details

For kids who love history

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