The 1930’s Great Depression Era

American Historical Fiction






Date Pub

Cover image for Tru & Nelle : a novel

Neri, Greg.   Tru & Nelle: a novel

In their small town of Monroeville, Alabama, in 1930, misfits Tru and Nelle strike up a friendship and find a mystery to solve when someone breaks into the drugstore and steals some candy and a fancy brooch.


View full image

Draper, Sharon.   Stella by Starlight

When a burning cross set by the Klan causes panic and fear in 1932 Bumblebee, North Carolina, fifth-grader Stella must face prejudice and find the strength to demand change in her segregated town.


Cover image for The sittin' up

Moses, Sheila P.   The Sittin’ Up

When the patriarch of twelve-year-old Bean’s sharecropping community dies, Bean gets a lesson in not only what it means to lose someone you love, but also in how his family and friends care for their dead.


View full image

Curtis, Christopher.   The Mighty Miss Malone
With love and determination befitting the "world's greatest family," twelve-year-old Deza Malone, her older brother Jimmie, and their parents endure tough times in Gary, Indiana, and later Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression.


View full image

Giff, Patricia Reilly.   R My Name is Rachel
Three city siblings, now living on a farm during the Great Depression, must survive on their own when their father takes a construction job miles away.


Pinkney, Andrea Davis.   Bird in a Box
In 1936, three children meet at the Mercy Home for Negro Orphans in New York State, and while not all three are orphans, they are all dealing with grief and loss which together, along with the help of a sympathetic staff member and the boxing matches of Joe Louis, they manage to overcome. Includes author's notes.


Ylvisaker, Anne.   The Luck of the Buttons
In Iowa circa 1929, spunky twelve-year-old Tugs vows to turn her family's luck around, with the help of a Brownie camera and a small-town mystery that only she can solve.


Holm, Jennifer L.   Turtle in Paradise
In 1935, when her mother gets a job housekeeping for a woman who does not like children, eleven-year-old Turtle is sent to stay with relatives she has never met in faraway Key West, Florida.


Peterson, Lois.   Silver Rain
When her uncle and mother disappear on mysterious errands, Elsie and her friend Scoop discover them competing in a dance marathon to solve the family's money problems.


Vanderpool, Clare.   Moon over Manifest
Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker is the daughter of a drifter who, in the summer of 1936, sends her to stay with an old friend in Manifest, Kansas, where he grew up, and where she hopes to find out some things about his past. Newbery Medal Winner 2011.


Forrester, Sandra.   Leo and the Lesser Lion
In Depression-era Alabama, twelve-year-old Mary Bayliss Pettigrew struggles to understand why her beloved older brother, Leo, died and whether she, miraculously, survived for some special purpose.


Phelan, Matt.   The Storm in the Barn
In Kansas in the year 1937, eleven-year-old Jack Clark faces his share of ordinary challenges: local bullies, his father's failed expectations, a little sister with an eye for trouble. But he also has to deal with the effects of the Dust Bowl, including rising tensions in his small town and the spread of a shadowy illness. (Graphic Novel, X 741.5 P51)


Yep, Laurence.   Dragon Road
In 1939, unable to find regular jobs because of the Great Depression, long-time friends Cal Chin and Barney Young tour the country as members of a Chinese American basketball team.


tough times

Meltzer, Milton.   Tough Times 
In 1931 Worcester, Massachusetts, Joey Singer, the teenaged son of Jewish immigrants, suffers with his family through the early part of the Great Depression, trying to finish high school, working a milk delivery route, marching on Washington, and eventually even becoming a hobo, all the while trying to figure out how to go to college and realize his dream of becoming a writer. Includes author's note about the Depression.


from the lighthouse

Chipman, Liz.   From the Lighthouse

In 1938, thirteen-year-old Louise Bloom tries to figure out what caused her mother to leave her, her three brothers, their father, and the lighthouse on the Hudson River that they call home.


Choldenko, Gennifer.   Al Capone Does My Shirts

Set in 1935, when guards actually lived on Alcatraz Island with their families, Choldenko’s second novel brings humor to the complexities of family dynamics. (Sequel: Al Capone Shines My Shoes)


walking on air

Easton, Kelly.   Walking On Air

In 1931, a young girl travels around the country performing on a tightrope during revival meetings held by her father, and seeking her own answers about God, her family, and her life of poverty and homelessness.


truth about sparrows

Hale, Marian.   The Truth About Sparrows

Twelve-year-old Sadie promises that she will always be Wilma's best friend when their families leaves drought-stricken Missouri in 1933, but once in Texas, Sadie learns that she must try to make a new home--and new friends, too.


hard times for jake smith

Henderson, Aileen Kilgore.   Hard Times for Jake Smith                                        
In 1935 Alabama, when twelve-year-old MaryJake is abandoned by her financially-strapped parents and told to walk to the house of unknown relatives, she dresses like a boy and joins the household of an old widow before discovering secrets about her own family.



View full image

Slade, Arthur.   Dust

Eleven-year-old Robert is the only one who can help when a mysterious stranger arrives, performing tricks and promising to bring rain, at the same time children begin to disappear from a dust bowl farm town in Saskatchewan in the 1930s.


hannah, divided

Griffin, Adele.   Hannah, Divided

In 1934, a thirteen-year-old with a gift for numbers is offered the chance to leave her family's dairy farm to spend one term at an exclusive Philadelphia girls' school preparing for a scholarship exam.


Heise, Kenan.   The Witch of Ferndale: and More Aunt Ella Stories
Author Kenan Heise has served up a treasure trove of nostalgia from his childhood in Ferndale, Mich. during the money-scarce days just before World War II. (Short Stories Collection)


View Item Details

Avi.   The Secret School

In 1925, fourteen-year-old Ida Bidson secretly takes over as the teacher when the one-room schoolhouse in her remote Colorado area closes unexpectedly.


View full image

Lasky, Kathryn.   Christmas After All: the diary of Minnie Swift

In her fictionalized journal, eleven-year-old Minnie Swift recounts how her family dealt with the difficult times during the Depression and how an orphan from Texas changed their lives in Indianapolis just before Christmas 1932. (Dear America Series)


rose's journal

Moss, Marissa.   Rose’s Journal: the story of a girl in the Great Depression
Rose keeps a journal of her family's difficult times on their farm during the days of the Dust Bowl in 1935.                                                                     


extra innings

Peck, Robert Newton.   Extra Innings

After a tragic airplane crash that claims the lives of most of his family, sixteen-year-old Tate goes to live with his wealthy great-grandfather and his adopted black great-aunt Vidalia and he finds unexpected solace in the stories of her  childhood spent travelling with a Depression-era Negro baseball team.


jim the boy

Earley, Tony.   Jim the Boy

The pleasures and fears of a ten-year old boy growing up in a North Carolina town during the Depression.


year down yonder

Peck, Richard.   A Year Down Yonder

In 1937, during the Depression, fifteen-year-old Mary Alice, initially apprehensive about leaving Chicago to spend a year with her fearsome, larger-than-life grandmother in rural Illinois, gradually begins to better understand and admire her grandmother's unusual qualities.  Newbery Medal Winner 2001.


Ryan, Pam Muñoz.   Esperanza Rising 
Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth and privilege in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California, where they must adapt to the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers on the eve of the Great Depression.



Blackwood, Gary L.   Moonshine

During the Depression, in the Ozarks of Missouri, thirteen-year-old Thad has adventures selling moonshine and fishing with a rich visitor.


bud, not buddy

Curtis, Christopher.   Bud, Not Buddy

Ten-year-old Bud, a motherless boy living in Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression, escapes a bad foster home and sets out in search of the man he believes to be his father--the renowned bandleader, H.E. Calloway of Grand Rapids.


letter to mrs

De Young, C. Coco.   A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt

Eleven-year-old Margo fulfills a class assignment by writing a letter to Eleanor Roosevelt asking for help to save her family's home during the Great Depression.


nowhere to call home

DeFelice, Cynthia.   Nowhere to Call Home

When her father kills himself after losing his money in the stock market crash, twelve-year-old Frances, now a penniless orphan, decides to hop aboard a freight train and live the life of a hobo.


long way from chicago

Peck, Richard.   A Long Way From Chicago

A boy recounts his annual summer trips to rural Illinois with his sister during the Great Depression to visit their larger-than-life grandmother.


View Item Details

Hesse, Karen.   Out of the Dust

In a series of poems, fifteen-year-old Billie Jo relates the hardships of living on her family's wheat farm in Oklahoma during the dust bowl years of the Depression. Newbery Medal Winner 1998



Lied, Kate.   Potato: a tale from the Great Depression
During the "Great Depression," a family seeking work finds employment for two weeks digging potatoes in Idaho.



hiding mr

Rabe, Berniece.   Hiding Mr. McMulty

In 1937 in southeastern Missouri, eleven-year-old Rass, son of a proud sharecropper, proves his worth when a flood destroys his family's home and forces his best friend, an elderly black man, into hiding from the Ku Klux Klan.



storyteller's daughter

Thesman, Jean.   The Storyteller’s Daughter

Fifteen-year-old Quinn, the middle child in a Depression-era, working class family, learns some secrets about her beloved father, who has always been a source of strength and optimism for his family, friends, and neighbors.


spotting the leopard

Myers, Anna.   Spotting the Leopard

In the late 1930s, H.J. Harper is intent on finding a way to help his older sister become a veterinarian and on tracking down a leopard that has escaped from the zoo in Oklahoma City where his father is working on a W.P.A. project. Sequel to Red-Dirt Jessie.



Karr, Kathleen.   The Cave

As drought and the Depression threaten to destroy her family's South Dakota farm, twelve-year-old Christine discovers a wondrous cave, which becomes both her own private delight and a possible salvation for the family.


cat running

Snyder, Zilpha Keatley.   Cat Running

When eleven-year-old Cat Kinsey builds a secret hideout to escape her unhappy homelife, she slowly gets to know a poor family who have come to California after losing their Texas home to the dust storms of the 1930's.


red-dirt jessie

Myers, Anna.   Red-Dirt Jessie

Jessie, a young girl living in the Oklahoma dust bowl, tries to tame a wild dog and help her father recover from a nervous breakdown.


letting swift river go

Yolen, Jane.   Letting Swift River Go

This picture book relates Sally Jane's experience of changing times in rural America, as she lives through the drowning of the Swift River towns in western Massachusetts to form the Quabbin Reservoir.  (1920's-1940's)


mississippi bridge

Taylor, Mildred.   Mississippi Bridge

During a heavy rainstorm in 1930s rural Mississippi, a ten-year-old white boy sees a bus driver order all the black passengers off a crowded bus to make room for late arriving white passengers and then set off across the raging creek.


View full image

Whitmore, Arvella.   The Bread Winner

When both her parents are unable to find work and pay the bills during the Great Depression, resourceful Sarah Ann Puckett saves the family from the poorhouse by selling her prizewinning homemade bread. (Paperback Collection)


View full image

Lyon, George Ella.   Borrowed Children

Having been forced to act as mother and housekeeper during Mama's illness, twelve-year-old Amanda has a holiday in Memphis, far removed from the Depression drudgery of her Kentucky mountain family, and finds her world expanding even as she grows to understand and appreciate her background.



Taylor, Mildred.   The Friendship

Cassie and her brothers witness a confrontation between an elderly black man and a white storekeeper in rural Mississippi in the 1930s.  Unforgettable.


Aaron, Chester.   Lackawanna: a novel
A gang of abandoned children, living together during the Depression in order to survive, is galvanized into action when a hobo kidnaps one of its members.


Product Details

Bess, Clayton.   Tracks

Two restless brothers, Monroe and Blue, learn quickly about life and the nature of people while following the railroad tracks in the Southwest during the Depression.


Mazer, Harry.   Cave Under the City

With their mother in the hospital and their father's whereabouts unknown, two boys take to the streets of New York to escape being sent to a children's shelter.


let the cirlce be unbroken

Taylor, Mildred.   Let the Circle Be Unbroken

Four black children growing up in rural Mississippi during the Depression experience racial antagonisms and hard times, but learn from their parents the pride and self-respect they need to survive.  Sequel to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.


View full image

Uchida, Yoshiko.   A Jar of Dreams

A young girl grows up in a closely-knit Japanese American family in California during the 1930's, a time of great prejudice.


roll of thunder, hear my cry

Taylor, Mildred.   Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

A black family living in the South is faced with prejudice and discrimination which their children don't understand.


song of the trees

Taylor, Mildred.   Song of the Trees

When Cassie's father is away in Louisiana to find work, an unscrupulous white man tries to cheat the family out of their beloved land.



duffy's rocks

Fenton, Edward.   Duffy’s Rocks

Feeling imprisoned by life in a grimy town of poor immigrant families near Pittsburgh during the 1930s, young Timothy Brennan sets out to find his father who abandoned him many years earlier.


no promises in the wind

Hunt, Irene.   No Promises in the Wind

Josh and Joey strike out on their own in this hard-hitting story of the devastating effects of the Depression on one family.