Books About Labor Day

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Books about Labor Day

From global histories to local labor organizing movements, this carefully curated selection of books will spark lively conversations about workers’ rights.

Henry lives with his agoraphobic and emotionally fragile mother until their peaceful lives are suddenly interrupted when they assist Frank, who has fled from authorities over Labor Day weekend.

Kid Blink Beats the World by Dan Brown

Dan Brown is best known for his page-turning thrillers, yet he once tried his hand at children’s music. In 1989, he self-produced an album of children’s musical pieces composed on synthesizers called Musica Animalia, which sold around 500 copies before turning his focus solely to writing novels (which have gone on to sell more than 220 million copies worldwide).

This book chronicles the adventures of Kid Blink and other newsboys who, for just a penny, ventured outside their cramped tenement apartments, joined pushcart peddlers, avoided street trolleys, and battled some of the world’s biggest press barons. Kirkus Reviews praises Brown’s illustrations as having “spare, fluid sketches softly washed with sepia and butterscotch tones.” Publishers Weekly notes his text’s staccato delivery, while PARMA Recordings offers orchestral recordings by talented musicians from these individuals as well!

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel

Clara Lemlich arrived in New York City as an immigrant, barely speaking English, yet full of determination and drive. After failing to find employment for her father, she settled for sewing at an unsanitary garment factory sweatshop despite poor pay and conditions; when no one hired him, she recognized their inequities. Outraged, Clara organized women workers into unions before arranging them into strikes against unfair treatment; though arrested several times due to threats made by factory bosses against striking workers, she persisted and ultimately led one of America’s largest walkouts ever witnessed by women workers against management!

This captivating book takes readers on an engaging journey back to 1909 when Clara led one of the first prominent women’s clothing strikes, led by Local 25 leaders such as Clara and Lydia. While other workers feared striking, their actions inspired many. Clara wanted women treated equally in her workplace – this book serves as an ideal introduction to workplace rights while serving as an important reminder that working hard pays off in many ways.

Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet has created beautiful watercolor illustrations inspired by old photographs, using stitching and fabric techniques that bring to life an immigrant steamship, crowded tenements, a confining jail cell, and a bustling union hall. In the back matter, there is more information about early twentieth-century garment industry practices, women’s labor activism, an annotated bibliography, and the author’s note for further reading.

The Bobbin Girl by Emily Arnold McCully

McCully uses watercolor illustrations to tell Rebecca Putney’s tale. She works long hours at a cotton mill in Lowell, Massachusetts–known as “the City of Spindles.” Though her life can be challenging at times, Rebecca finds strength in her friend Judith, who stands up for what she believes in and organizes a walkout protest when the mill owners threaten lower women’s wages; can Rebecca follow suit and join her friends?

This book makes an ideal addition to any study of the Industrial Revolution and worker rights. While fictionalized, it depicts some of the actual conditions experienced by women working in textile factories and provides an excellent introduction to union formation and how even small steps toward fighting injustice can make a difference.

Harriet Hanson Robinson (1825-1911) was an actual bobbin girl, and this book provides more details of her life story. This powerful tale will leave children with lasting lessons about standing up for what you believe in, even if things don’t always go as planned – making this an essential addition to every child’s library!

Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers by Sarah Warren

Dolores Huerta’s fight for migrant workers’ rights is chronicled in this picture book biography written by Warren. Casilla’s realistic watercolor-and-pastel illustrations ideally bring Dolores Huerta alive as a teacher, detective, friend, warrior organizer, peacemaker, storyteller, and mother woman without overstating or becoming bogged down with lofty language. Double-page spreads show Dolores in different roles, including teacher, detective, friend, warrior, organizer, peacemaker, storyteller, and mother woman each double features Dolores as a teacher, detective, friend, warrior organizer, peacemaker, storyteller, mother woman, or mother/woman without overstating or becoming bogged down in lofty language.

Dolores, a new teacher who is concerned for her students, notices some are hungry and lacking shoes. After reaching out to their parents, she learns their bosses aren’t paying enough, so their families have enough food; this motivates her to speak out on behalf of her pupils and become their advocate.

Dolores was instrumental in changing working conditions for migrant workers through early battles with her employers and alliances with Cesar Chavez. Her nonviolent activism changed working conditions across migrant farms; she continues to fight for social justice without violence – risking her own life to bring change – making an impressionable figure who inspired many around the globe. Dolores remains an inspiration today.

This book provides children with a fantastic introduction to civil rights activism and what individuals can do when they strive for change. Additionally, this title showcases women in society and what can be accomplished when groups work towards one goal together. An essential read for all children, especially during Hispanic Heritage Month or Women’s History Month! Teachers may find this resource invaluable when teaching about migrant workers’ efforts for civil rights.

From the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend by Priscilla Murolo and A.B. Chitty

Labor Day conjures images of parades and days off work, but its origin was actually intended to address another problem: long working hours. This problem still affects us today, particularly among highly trained white-collar workers who remain connected to their work through email and phones at all times.

By the 1880s, American factory workers were working 12 or more hours each day and six days out of seven – an era known as “long eight.”

As a response, workers organized protests and strikes demanding shorter working hours, leading to contentious and violent clashes between laborers and police forces – the Haymarket Riot in 1886 was particularly violent and led to many union leaders’ deaths.

Following this incident, trade union leaders began campaigning for a national day to honor American workers. Peter McGuire from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters is generally recognized for conceiving of and proposing the first Labor Day celebration in New York City in 1882 – including suggesting it include a street parade to showcase strength and camaraderie among trade and labor organizations.

Labor Day first became a national holiday in 1894 when President Grover Cleveland signed it into law, making it the first Monday in September as Labor Day. Since then, Labor Day has spread around the world; Americans usually celebrate it with picnics or parties, but its spirit remains the same: to recognize all those hardworking individuals who keep our economy running smoothly.