Migrant Labor

Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child

By Elva Trevino Hart

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A vividly told autobiographical account of the life of a child growing up in a family of migrant farm workers. It brings to life the day-to-day existence of people facing the obstacles of working in the fields and raising a family in an environment that is frequently hostile to those who have little education and speak another language. Assimilation brings its own problems, as the original culture is attenuated and the quality of family relationships is compromised, consequences that are not inevitable but are instead a series of choices made along the way. It is also the story of how the author overcame the disadvantages of this background and found herself.

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A Painted House by John Grisham

Rural 1950s Arkansas is the setting for John Grisham’s Southern thriller, A Painted House. It’s the beginning of a summer full of sweltering days, acres of cotton to pick, dangerous desire, and deadly secrets to keep. 

This season--at its start the same as every other--finds the Chandler family on the road in their dusty pick-up looking for migrant workers to hire. Young Lucas is certain from what he has observed in his short life that once the season’s work is done, his family will go back to its quiet ways, sitting through another winter, readying for another spring planting with Grandpa, “Pappy” Chandler, heading the household.
 
Lucas’ family has worked the land for generations, and this summer’s batches of migrant help—Mexicans and hill people--will work alongside them to bring in the crop before the weather destroys their chance to make a little profit on the farm or at least get further out of debt. Lucas expects the workers to come stay for a few months, do their assigned work, and then go their way—never leaving a lasting impression on his family and their way of life.

Esperanza Rising

By Pam Muñoz Ryan

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Spoiled, self-centered Esperanza loses her father, wealth and easy Mexican life and starts over as a California farm worker in the 1930s. Spanish words and magical realism grace this expansive, readable novel that is written from the heart.

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The Journal of C. J. Jackson, a Dust Bowl Migrant

By William Durbin

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Thirteen-year-old C.J. records in a journal the conditions of the Dust Bowl that cause the Jackson family to leave their farm in Oklahoma and make the difficult journey to California, where they find a harsh life as migrant workers. Part of the My Name is America series.

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Oranges

By Jack Rogow

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To you, it's just an orange, juicy and sweet, but it's made a long journey and gone through many hands before coming to your table. Meet all the kinds of people who work to get that fruit to you. Beautiful pictures make this one good for story time, whether the theme is food, plants, or different cultures.
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Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez

By Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Yuri Morales

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Beautiful paintings help to tell the story of Cesar Chavez, who grew up to lead a peaceful protest against California migrant workers' hard working conditions.

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Harvest

By George Ancona

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Meet campesinos, migrant farm laborers who've come to America in search of a better life for their children.
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Going Home

By Eve Bunting

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A Mexican father and mother love their children and want them to have all the opportunities they can so they travel a long way to work in the fields of California. But when it's Christmas, it's time to go home to Mexico and gather all the family together again for a special celebration.

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Esperanza Rising

By Pam Munoz Ryan

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Beautiful Esperanza has grown up in luxury at her father's ranch, but when her father dies as the Great Depression strikes Mexico, she and her sick mother must leave their home to go to work in the labor camps of Southern California.

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Cesar Chavez: Union Leader

By Bruce W. Conord

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Cesar Chavez fought for the rights of migrant workers who worked picking lettuce and grapes in 1960s and 1970s California.
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