Child labor

Striking Back: The Fight to End Child Labor Exploitation

By J. Dennis Robinson

Go to catalog
In 1790 the first water-powered mill in America was run by children, some as young as seven years old. They were paid pennies for a work day that might last more than ten hours. As America grew, the children's plight grew worse. Exhausted by six-day work weeks and harsh conditions, millions of young workers had no time to play or go outdoors. They had no childhood. In time children and adults fought back, and the children went on strike to protest harsh conditions. Finally, during the last years of the Great Depression, the government took action, passing the Fair Labor Act.
Reserve this title

Working Children

By Carol Saller

Go to catalog

Learn what it was like to be one of the more than two million kids in 1900 who worked instead of going to school and what was done to make their lives better.

Reserve this title

We Have Marched Together: The Working Children's Crusade

By Stephen Currie

Go to catalog

The fight to regulate child labor went on for many years, but this book tells the particular story of children who worked in the textile mills and marched with Mother Jones from Philadelphia to New York City in 1903.

Reserve this title

Turn Homeward, Hannalee

By Patricia Beatty

Go to catalog

Twelve-year-old Hannalee Reed is marched away from her home by the Yankees to work in a mill in Indiana during the Civil War. Her father is dead, and her mother is expecting another baby. When she and her brother are separated, she wonders if she'll ever be able to keep her promise to go back to Georgia.

Reserve this title

The Bobbin Girl

By Emily Arnold McCully

Go to catalog

Ten-year-old Rebecca likes to help her family by earning some money, but a Massachusetts cotton mill is not the same as working at a jewelry counter in a shopping mall. In the 1830s, long before there were laws to protect workers and keep kids from being exploited, a mill was a dusty, dirty place where the very air could make you sick. When talk comes of paying the girls and women less money, Rebecca has to decide whether to stand with the others or keep doing her job to bring in money for her family.

Reserve this title

Kids on Strike

By Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Go to catalog

In the old days, poor children were much more likely to work long hours at hard jobs in scary and dangerous places than go to school and have a chance at a better life. But, sometimes the kids fought back, refusing to work until they got paid more and were treated better. These brave young workers were an important part of the Labor Movement in the United States.

Reserve this title

Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor

By Russell Freedman

Go to catalog
Lewis Hine, an investigative reporter for the National Child Labor Committee, took photographs that provided dramatic visual evidence that the U.S. needed laws against child labor. Kids At Work features Hines' groundbreaking photos, along with text by Newbery Honor Winner Russell Freedman.
Reserve this title

Growing Up in Coal Country

By Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Go to catalog
There were lots of jobs for young boys to do in the dark and dirty coal mines of Pennsylvania, from "breaker boys" to "nippers" and "spraggers." These early photos let you look into the eyes of kids who saw too much too early as they struggled to help feed their families.
Reserve this title

Esperanza Rising

By Pam Munoz Ryan

Go to catalog

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.

Reserve this title

A Chance Child

By Jill Paton Walsh

Go to catalog

A boy climbs aboard a rickety boat and travels back in time one hundred years to the Industrial Revolution where he suffers at the hand of his bosses. Meanwhile, his half-brother, frantically looking for him in the 20th century, comes across his brother's name in the history books where he had testified to the brutal conditions under which he has been forced to live.

Reserve this title