Grades 6 - 8
Grade level Equivalent: 6.8
Lexile Measure®: 1140
Guided Reading: R
- General Nonfiction
- Industrial Revolution and Gilded Age
- Equality, Fairness, Justice
About This Book
In the larger context of the history of child labor and the ongoing movement to abolish it, Newbery Medalist Russell Freedman — whose Children of the Wild West and Immigrant Kids also focus on children's history — tells the story of Lewis Hine, an investigative photographer whose documentation of child labor in the early part of the 20th century was instrumental in the introduction of anti-child labor laws. A former teacher, Hine spent ten years touring the United States for the National Child Labor Committee. Often without permission, he photographed children working, for long hours and under dangerous conditions, in fields, mines, and factories.
In his striking photographs — 61 of which have been carefully chosen for inclusion in this book — solemn-faced youngsters, some as young as three years old, are shown tending looms in cotton mills or coated with dust from a coal mine. Freedman's characteristically accessible text, supplemented by quotes from Hine's own reports, explain to contemporary kids the nature of the tasks depicted.
Freedman has a knack for including personal details that bring his subjects vividly to life in the minds and hearts of young readers, and his descriptions, both of the lives of children and of Lewis Hine, are some of his best. One simple example that resonates with poignancy: in order to determine the height of the children he met without arousing the ire of their employers, Hine devised a technique of measuring them against his own coat buttons.
Freedman is careful to point out that, despite the successes of Hine and the movement against child labor, child labor exists in America even today. Encourage students to discuss the ongoing problem and what can and should be done about it, while examining the ways in which Hine used his skills to bring about social reform.