Ruby's Hope


Dorothea Lange’s Depression-era “Migrant Mother” photograph is an icon of American history. Behind this renowned portrait is the story of a family struggling against all odds to survive.

Dust storms and dismal farming conditions force young Ruby’s family to leave their home in Oklahoma and travel to California to find work. As they move from camp to camp, Ruby sometimes finds it hard to hold on to hope. But on one fateful day, Dorothea Lange arrives with her camera and takes six photographs of the young family. When one of the photographs appears in the newspaper, it opens the country’s eyes to the reality of the migrant workers’ plight and inspires an outpouring of much needed support.

Bleak yet beautiful illustrations depict this fictionalized story of a key piece of history, about hope in the face of hardship and the family that became a symbol of the Great Depression.--from the publisher

40 pages                            978-1624148187                                       Ages 6-10


History can feel like something that happened so very long ago.  It doesn't seem to connect with where we are now in the swirling world of the internet and social media and books about The Great Depression might feel far away and about people we don't recognize.

This story, told through the eyes of a young girl named Ruby, changes all that.  Taking us out to the farmland of Oklahoma we feel things changing.  The rain stops coming.  Our plants won't grow.  Our parents get worried and the dust starts to build and build until it covers everything.

But for Ruby, it's still home.  It's still the world she knows.  When her parents decide the only thing the family can do is migrate to California with the hope of finding work and starting over, Ruby doesn't want to leave the house, the land, even the sky she belongs to.

This is the story of what it was like to live through the Great Depression at the level of a young girl in a family in Oklahoma.  This is the story of piling all your worldly possessions in a rickety car and getting out on the road not knowing where you will find your place to land.

This is also the story of a photographer, Dorothea Lange, who knew something about hardship.  It is Dorothea Lange who took the iconic photograph of the "Migrant Mother."  The face of this one mother showing the worry, the fear, the exhaustion, the determination, the strength of so many mothers and so many families in that difficult time.

History comes alive in the photograph and through the story of Ruby and the hope she holds.

Back matter included.

Keywords: Great Depression, family, hope, determination, survival, homelessness, American history, Social Studies Curriculum, photograph, photographer

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge,

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