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

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

by Jerry Stanley


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780517880944
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 07/28/1993
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 91,064
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.25(d)
Lexile: 1120L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

* Jerry Stanley was born in Highland Park, Michigan in 1941.  When he was seventeen years old, he joined the air force and was stationed in California, where he has lived ever since.

* Once out of the air force, Jerry went to college, during which time he supported himself as a rock-'n'-roll drummer on the weekends.  He received both his master's and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Arizona.  

* Jerry is now is a professor of history at California State University in Bakersfield, where he teaches courses on the American West, the American Indian, and California history.  In addition to his children's books, Jerry is the author of numerous articles for both scholarly journals and popular magazines.

* Among Jerry's hobbies are bowling, racquetball, fishing, drumming, and writing humor.  He and his wife, Dorothy, have four children and live in Bakersfield, CA.  

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Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
PaigeCostella on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A book of the children and their families who escaped the dust bowl. This book is of their journey and how they are made fun of. This would be great to incorporate in a history lesson when teaching about the dust bowl.
MelAKnee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oakies were not welcome in many parts of California during the Great Depression. They were made to live in camps with inadequate food and lodging. Leo Hart dedicated his life to creating a school for the children of this Weedpatch Camp. Together, he, the faculty, and students built their own school out of two abandoned buildings next to the camp. The school flourished to the point that the community that once wanted the Oakies out of their town, were now trying to send their kids to the Oakie school. This book is full of pictures that portray the ways of life during the Depression, the camps, and the building of the school.
ktinney2315937 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book tells about the people who went through the dust bowl. It tells of how the children would get made fun of at schools and how people would tell them to leave. Eventually someone helped make a school just for them, that in turn became one of the best schools possible.
paulaanweiler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book opened my eyes to the children of the dust bowls way of life. It shows how it only takes one person to believe in chidren to make a difference. In the end the children's hard work and perseverence pays off and makes them stronger.
kzrobin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a great documentary book on children and families of the dust bowl. The best part about this book was that they left Oklahoma and went to California to escape the Dust Bowl. The author shows how badly they were treated and how they were discriminated against. The author also shows how one person can make such a big impact on so many people. This would be a great book to pair with the novel "Out of the Dust." It would help the students to understand both sides of how some people got through this time in their lives.
bsalomon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Groups of families living in the Dust Bowl struggle to move to California to start their new lives. California is supposed to be filled with available jobs, but when the Okies get there they find out that it was just a rumor. The people of California discriminate against the Okies by putting up signs telling them to leave. The government opens a camp where Okies can live there for $1 per week. When the schools become over crowded with children the Okies build their own emergency school on the lot next to the camp. The Okie children learn many different things at their school that other schools do not learn. This is an incredible story for children to read to help them understand what other children, who grew up in the Dust Bowl, had to go through. This would make a group book to do a group project on.
jrlandry1410 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another book about the dust bowl era, this is about the families who escaped the dust bowl and moved somewhere else. They find they are not wanted, and they are ridiculed and scorned. A good book for a history lesson.
ahernandez91 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. "Children of the Dust Bowl" is just that, a story of the lives of children who lived in the dust bowl, but moved to California with their families to find a better life. Stanley gives explanation of life in the dust bowl, the struggles they encountered there, the poverty the experienced, and the hopes that they had. After living through so many dust storms, droughts, and without food, families picked up and moved to California in hopes of finding a better life. Californians did not like the "Okie's" and wanted them to go back where they came from. They were treated like African Americans were down south being segregated and disrespected. The Okie's heard about camps built by the federal government which helped them gain hope again. The Okie's moved there working the land to make money. Some of the Okie children attended public school's but nearby residents wanted them out because Okie's were trash. Leo Hart decided change needed to occur, so he and the Okie's, with the help of others, built an emergency school specifically for the Okie's. They were proud of their school and had a broader curriculum with some of the best teachers in the county, so residents soon wanted their students to attend the Okie school, accepting the Okie's and realizing that they were not worthless people.
kmcinern on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not my favorite. Although this book was well-written, I found myself appreciating the photographs more than the text. Author Jerry Stanley descriptively describes the emotional journey familiar to many "Okie" families who journeyed across the country in the hopes of finding the opportunity for better lives. I found the text "hit home" on an emotional level specifically with the descriptions of the opposition the travelers encountered as they reached California. While I am hesitant to believe that middle school students would select this text for interesting reading, I believe some New Orleans youth may interpret this text in unusual ways. As children displaced by Hurricane Katrina, I believe it would be interesting to use this text with middle/high school students to have them use to make historical comparisons.
rosesaurora on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sometimes reality is really more unbelievable than fiction. The same group of people inspired both Steinbeck and Stanley to share what happened to the Okie's with the rest of the world. While Steinbeck's work was based on the Okie's, it was still a fictional telling. Stanley sought out the real Okie children who grew up facing poverty, prejudice and hate. He tells of the awful many families starved to death on their way from the pan-handle to California, and then the starvation and misery they faced upon arriving. The paradise they had been promised was a lie--now they were starving, filthy, homeless, and treated as less than human.Though most only sneered and chased them away, one man saw that these children were still just that, and they deserved a chance at a better life. Leo Hart began gathering sympathetic teachers together to construct an 'emergency school' that satisfied the general public's opinion that Okie children should stay as far away from their kids as possible and it gave the Okie children a safe environment to learn where no one thought of them as stupid or incapable.It's amazing to read these first person accounts of the hatred they faced, even more so the strength the gave one another and the community they literally built for themselves. Many Okie children went on to be successful adults and the school became so well known for its amazing teachers and staff that everyone wanted their children to attend school with the kids they had formerly disdained.It's not really race in this book that is highlighted--it is socioeconomic status, cultural differences, and dialect that so divided people. This is a great book for demonstrating hardship and prejudice in a social studies classroom in urban as well as suburban and rural areas.
wackermt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Children of the Dustbowl is an inspirational story that can be appreciated by readers of many levels and ages. Stanley has a very colloquial tone in writing about the Okies and the children of the Weedpatch Camp, which invites the reader along and encourages you to become attached to the story. Perhaps the biggest issue I had while reading the book is that it was not what I expected, and it felt like I wanted more. Having little background with the history, I was expecting a story of Oklahoman survival in the midwest, but was given one which barely treated the Dustbowl itself, aside from as a means to set the stage. I also felt like the story moved too quickly, and I wanted more information.I would highly recommend this book as a treatment on education reform, an example of what modern education should strive for. It would also be suitable for a student with specific interest in the subject matter, but I would not use this book as a general reading assignment for middle or high school students.
kratzerliz23 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great book for teaching about hard times in American history. A social studies teacher could use it to compare the potato famine in Ireland and this famine. Students could explore how the situations that the people experienced in each were similar and different. A teacher can use it to talk about prejudices and how it exists all over the world. As a math teacher I could use it to compare starvation rates, crop losses, years famines lasted, etc. It would be great to teach this book simultaneously in a social studies and a math class. The author is qualified to write this book since he is a history professor. When writing this book he interviewed many people who are mentioned in the book, which supports the accuracy and authenticity of it.
Eclouse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is great for students who are first learning about the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, especially with all the pictures because you can actually see what was happening and relate. I enjoyed this book because of the pictures and the facts and story are really inspiring.
mmgomez1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book teaches young children how the daily lives of the average person changed as a result of the Great Depression and the 5-year drought in the Midwest. I think this book is best read to pre-teens or teens.
chelsea6273 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Without knowing too much on this topic prior to reading this book, I was impressed with how Jerry Stanley, the author, described the economic situation surrounding the story of the Weedpatch School. The book was so well-written and interesting that I just wanted to keep reading it¿even when I was trying to fall asleep! Using photographs and a lot of primary sources, Stanley told the story of the ¿Okies¿ migration from Oklahoma to California in search for work. With a terrible dust storm that affected crops in Oklahoma, these ¿Okies¿ saved every penny to even be able to drive to California, only to face more economic hardships. I would recommend this book for middle and high school students in history classes; it would go well with a unit on the Great Depression.
JTNguyen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Families in the Panhandle suffered a great drought that lasted for years during the Depression, forcing everyone to migrate west with the misconception of a brighter future. However, once the families in the Panhandle arrived in California, they soon found out that the future wasn't as bright as they thought it would be. They were given the name "Okies" and suffered hunger and rejection by the people in California.
LainaBourgeois on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book 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. This true story brings to life the hardships that many of the children during this era had to face in a way that children today can understand it.
nnicolic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oklahoma birthed the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression, which led to many families losing everything they had on the move to California. The "Okies" were treated like second class citizens in California. Yet, the children came together to build their own school and swimming pool. This book marks and important part of American History. Students will learn that discrimination is more than just color, but it is also social status.
rwilliamson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story of the Great Depression era ¿Okie¿ migration from the Dustbowl to California focuses mainly on a school for migrant children in Kern County. The children at ¿Weedpatch Camp¿ had no school and were unwanted by other schools in the district. Because of the hostility toward Okies, the county superintendent, Leo Hart, decided in 1940 that the students would build their own school using donated materials instead of county funds. Hart, the students, teachers and their parents built a school so desirable that by 1944 ¿once hostile residents of Kern County¿ were clamoring to get their children into the school¿ (p.71).I really enjoyed this book. The student ownership of the school was so powerful that discipline problems were rare. For example if the children did not ¿goof-off and kept-up their academics¿ (p.59) they were ¿allowed to dig in the hole¿ which became the first public swimming pool in the county. This book is a heartwarming and powerful story of the impact a school can have on the lives of students and a community. There are many excellent black and white photos. This book includes an index and Bibliographic Note.Fifth grade students at my school already study the depression when they read Bud Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. Children of the Dustbowl can be used a supplemental text for that unit. This book also refers to several depression era songs. I would use youtube clips to tie the music references in this book and Bud Not Buddy together. I think asking the children to make a garden or build something for school using scrap lumber would be a fun extension that would need careful thought and planning. This book lends itself to math, science, and social studies lessons in measurement, geography, the causes of crop failure, chemistry (making make-up) and my favorite ¿ building a swimming pool. Other texts that I would use with this book include Leah¿s Pony by Elizabeth Friedrich (A picture book about a Dustbowl farm family facing eviction.), Rent Party Jazz by William Miller (A picture book about a child living in New Orleans in the Depression who tries to help his mother raise money when times are tough.) and nonfiction books such as The Dust Bowl: an interactive history adventure by Allison Lassieur and Children of the Great Depression by Russell Freedman.
HopeMiller123 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book describes what the people of the Dust Bowl went through in trying ti find better lives as they migrated to california from the Midwest. They suffered many diseases, poverty, and outright hatred from the Californias. They couldn't find any work and they lived in horrible conditions. Eventually the government makes camps for them, but the problem of how they adults and children are treated becomes the main conflict in the story. The adults are treated like animals, and the children are treated like they don't deserve or are to stupid for anything. An amazing man comes along and helps these people build a school in the camps that make the children of the dust bowl proud of who they are. They are taught various real life lessons and scholastic subjects. They overcome and grow up to be educated, successful people. This book is an awesome example of how all different races going through discrimination, poverty, and hate.
alyssabuzbee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was such an inspiring book. This detailed the conditions surrounding the migrant "Okies" during the dust bowl and the deplorable lives they lived once they got to California to seek work. One caring educator, Leo Hart, makes it his mission to create a school for the children who lived in Weedpatch Federal Camp, one of the camps built to house the migrants. The school soon becomes one of the preeminent schools in the area.
sarahbatte on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Children of the dust bowl is about families that moved from the mid west to find a better life. They moved to California in hopes of escaping poverty. However in California they were not treated the way they would have hoped. They were treated very badly and ostrasized by the natives. This book is a non fiction depiction of the way the oakies were treated during the Great Depression.
mrcmyoung on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stanley's book covers a period in history I'm not very familiar with, and I was fascinated reading about the hardships Oakies faced back home, en route, and after arriving in California. I wonder if students would be as shocked to learn how poorly people treated people immigrating from Oklahoma to California or if they would relate it to modern controversy over immigration. I was particularly inspired by the people who built and opened a quality school for the unwanted Oakie children.
jenvid on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book captures the story of how the Dust Bowl children were discriminated in California. Hart solved a problem, by creating a school for these children. The school had a rich curriculum, that taught them agriculture, machinery, and reading/writing. These students were given self-confidence, and thrived to be successful individuals. I found this book uplifting. These students came from a very poor background, and were able to strive into talented,independent people. I would assign this book to a 5th grade class. I would have students read "Out of the Dust", and then this non-fiction piece. We would have fishbowl discussions, as well as journal writings.
MattRaygun on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Children of the Dust Bowl by Jerry Stanley is well researched, moving, and illuminating. The book owes much to John Steinbeck and the author acknowledges as such. Taking on the emotional journalistic style of Steinbeck, Stanley weaves a narrative that begins at the height of the Dust Bowl in the Oklahoma pan-handle region. He expertly describes the conditions of poverty and drought in an area already ravaged by the Great Depression. Taking the reader along for the cross-country ride to California, the author leads us to the camps of "Okies" built on desperation in central-California.Using an impressive amount of first-person accounts and stunning photographs, Stanley paints a picture of racism, bigotry, and destitution in the once-promised lands of California. Enter Leo Hart, the hero of the story. Leo Hart, along with many others, begins construction of a school that aims to not only raise the Okie children out of their poverty, but to empower them. The accounts of the children are heart-wrenching and the success stories of the children that attended the Weedpatch School are nothing short of miraculous. Leo Hart is well-deserving of all the praise that the author heeps on his work.This book touches on a variety of topics suitable for a classroom, including: racism, bigotry, and most of all, atruism. So many people give to the Weedpatch school selfessly at a time when there was already very little to go around.The concept of race is well-presented in this book with the quote from an alarmed Californian, "The Okies out-number the white people". Considering that the vast majority of Okies were indeed white, this single line demonstrates perfectly the permeability of race and how it is routinely abused by the powerful, the wealthy, and the majority.I recommend this book for ages 10&up.