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Industrial Revolution made easier to understand in books, magazines

By Melissa J. Oleen

Rowan Public Library

This month’s edition of the children’s magazine Appleseeds focuses on the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution in America spanned the 1800s and on into the 1900s. It was a time of heavy immigration, life altering inventions and history making changes in labor.

This might not seem a very kid friendly subject, but Appleseeds proves otherwise. Appleseeds provides an excellent overview of the Industrial Revolution that young readers will be able to understand and find interesting.

Young children played an important role in the labor force. Children worked long hours at hard jobs for little pay. The wages they received were not for buying apps on their iPads. It went back to their parents to help the family finances.

Kid-length articles (not too long, not too short), comic book style illustrations, sharp period photographs and modern comparisons are packed into this magazine which serves as a great jumping off point for exploring other subjects. Articles include “Who Did What?” “Wage and Hours,” “A Mill Girls Story” and “A Day in the Coal Mines.” Appleseeds is available in the children’s department at headquarters.

The children’s room has additional materials on the rise of industry in the United States. Two new non-fiction sources are “The Rise of Industry: 1870-1900” and “World War I and Modern America: 1890-1930.” These titles take this broad topic and break it down into sections that include the rise of big businesses (think Rockefeller and Carnegie), the Transcontinental Railroad, the formation on unions and passing of labor laws.

Both books are from the Core Library, a series of nonfiction books that support the Common Core State Standards for grades 3-6. The books include glossaries, time lines, charts, diagrams and maps plus a section called “Straight to the Source” which introduces readers to information that comes from primary sources with accompanying questions.

Good fiction titles pertaining to the topic of the  Industrial Revolution include “Hear My Sorrow: The Diary of Angela Denoto, A Shirtwaist Worker.” Angela, an Italian immigrant, leaves school at age 14 to work in a shirtwaist dress factory at her father’s demand. Her diary covers the two years she worked in the factory, providing insight on what it was like for immigrant families, factory conditions and tenement living.

Author Deborah Hopkinson based the story around a real fire that occurred in 1911 at the Triangle Waist Co. One of the worst workplace fires in New York City history, more than 140 factory workers were killed, including many in their early teen and many by jumping from nine stories up. The fire resulted in New York City passing a number of fire, safety and building codes.

Katherine Paterson, author of “Bridge to Terabithia,” has written two books set during the Industrial Revolution. “Lyddie,” is an American Library Association notable book, is set in the 1840s. Lyddie is hired out at 10 years old by her family to work in a factory to help pay off their farm debts.

The book follows Lyddie as she finds work in a cloth factory where the conditions are wretched. After learning the family farm has been sold, she determines to make a better life for herself and attend college.

“Bread and Roses, Too” follows Rosa, a young girl whose father has passed away and whose mother supports the local union. Rosa is sent to Vermont when the strike against the local mill becomes dangerous. The book is based on a real life event in 1911 when mill workers in Lawrence, Mass., went on an eight-week strike and tensions escalated to the point that militia became involved and striking worker’s children were sent to other cities.

And I would be remiss if I did not include Sinclair Lewis’s “The Jungle” for high school teens and adult readers. The main character, Jurgis Rudkus, comes to Chicago from Lithuania filled with optimism that slowly deflates into hopelessness as one setback after another in the form of corrupt bosses, horrid working conditions, unpleasant living conditions and lack of medical services ruin his chances of finding his vision of the American dream.

Lewis provides a gripping look at the life of immigrant industrial workers and exposes the unbelievable conditions of the U.S. meat-packing industry at the time. The library has the uncensored original edition of “The Jungle.” Through NC Digital, you can check out the audio and eBook editions.

Children’s Storytime: Weekly events for children Feb. 2-April 30. For more information call 704-216-8234.

Baby Time — A loosely interactive program introducing simple stories and songs to 6-23 month-olds with a parent or caregiver.  Program lasts about one hour. Headquarters, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.; East, Mondays,  10 a.m.

Toddler Time — A program focused on sharing books, singing songs and encouraging listening skills for children 18-35 months old with a parent or caregiver. Program lasts 30 minutes. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Mondays, 11 a.m.

Tiny Tumblers — A loosely interactive program introducing simple stories, musical scarves and instruments for ages 6-23 months with a parent or caregiver. The same program is offered twice a week. Program lasts 30 minutes. South, Tuesday and Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.

Preschool time — Encourages the exploration of books and builds reading readiness skills for children 3-5 years old with a parent or caregiver. Program lasts 30 minutes. Headquarters, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Noodle Head storytime — For children 4 years and up to enjoy listening to silly books and tales together. Program lasts 30 minutes. Headquarters, Thursdays, 4 p.m.; South, Mondays, 4 p.m.

Art programs — Art activities and instruction based on various themes and media. Activities vary by branch.  Children 8 and under must be accompanied by an adult.  Programs last 30-45 minutes. Headquarters, Art in the Afternoon, Thursdays, 4:30 p.m.; East, Emma’s Easel, Thursdays, 4 p.m.; South, Art with Char, Wednesdays, 4 p.m.

Sharpie tie-dye for teens: All programs 5:30-7 p.m. Free and open to middle and high school teens. Light refreshments served. For more information call 704-216-8234. Headquarters,  Jan. 20;  East,  Jan. 27.

Computer classes: Computer Basics: If you’re new to computers – or if you’ve never felt comfortable – Computer Basics is for you.  We’ll go over the very basics, from discussing computer components to how programs are opened and closed. Classes are free. Sessions are about 90 minutes long. Class size is limited and on a first come, first served basis. Dates and times at all locations are subject to change without notice. Call 704-216-8242 for more information. Headquarters, Jan. 29, 9:30 a.m.

Lego day: For years, Legos have been one of the top children’s toys for developing creativity, imagination, systematic reasoning and problem solving skills. The library’s Lego collection will be available for children’s free play at 10 a.m. on Saturdays in January. Headquarters, Jan. 31; South, Jan. 24. 

“Got Plans?” workshop: South Branch, Jan.  26, 5:45 p.m. Free and open to the publicLearn about essential documents such as power of attorney, living wills and other important papers families should have access to at time of need.  Notebooks and forms will be provided to help you get started. Led by Don Timmons. To register or learn more about this program, call 704-216-7841.

Richard Smith concert: Headquarters, (Stanback Auditorium) — Jan. 27, 7 p.m.A special concert featuring guitarist Richard Smith, who has toured around the world surprising audiences with his incredible range of musical styles from country, bluegrass, mainstream jazz, modern pop and rock, to classical guitar.  Admission is free, and all are welcome. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Show sponsored by Friends of Rowan Public Library.

Book Bites Club: South (only),  Jan. 27, 6:30 p.m.,  “The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party” by Alexander McCall Smith. Book discussion groups for both adults and children at South Rowan Regional Library meet the last Tuesday of each month. The group is openand anyone is free to join at any time. There is a discussion of the book, as well as light refreshments at each meeting. For more information, please call 704-216-7841.

Special RPL Book Sale: South Rowan Regional Library.  Come find a bargain in a special sale featuring mostly children’s and adult nonfiction books. Prices range from 50 cents to $2, and books will be priced to move toward the end of the sale. Friday, Jan. 30, Saturday, Jan. 31 and Monday, Feb.  2,  9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Displays: Headquarters, altered books by West Rowan High School; South, student art by South Rowan High School Art Class; East, photographs by Shane Tolliver.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second  language.

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