Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Books for Economics in the Elementary Grades: Out of the Dust

This post references the following Keystone Economic Principles:

1. We all make choices.
3. All choices have consequences.
4. Economic systems influence choices.
8. Quantity and quality of available resources impact living standards.

The book in this post wasn't part of the lunchtime program; rather it's something I'm reading as part of a couple upcoming workshops in Richmond and Harrisonburg, VA later this month.

Out of the Dust is the story of a young girl growing up in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression. Instead of the normal narrative, the book is a series of free verse poems. It chronicles the hard times and hard choices faced by the girl and her parents as they cope with bad weather and bad economy.

It is full of references to prices, decisions made by her farmer father, and Depression era programs enacted under the Roosevelt administration. There are references to the family's living conditions on the small farm they own that illustrate how the quality of life can be impacted by unlikely resources, or the lack thereof. Many of the other examples provide clear examples of how the economic system and institutions (rules) affect decisions made by people during the period. Still other examples illustrate the consequences of decisions, from the happy to the tragic. The girl's life is forever changed by the growing up when and where she did; but it provides a poignant setting for examining the choices people make when faced by adversity.

If you've used this book, I'd appreciate any comments you have.

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