Out of the Dust


Bibliographic Information: Hesse, K. (1997). Out of the Dust. New York: Scholastic Press.

Brief Annotation: Billie Jo describes her life during the dust bowl years of the Great Depression. Suffering both emotionally and physical from the loss of her mother to her burned piano playing hands only adds to the struggles of growing up in a world suffocated by dust.

Genre: Nonfiction

Grade Level: 5

Readers who will like this: Readers learning about the Dust Bowl; Readers who like poetry; Readers who play the piano

Rating/Response: 4 Written in first-person free verse poems, this book provides students with a perspective they can value and relate to while reading and learning about a historic event. The honesty and history that come from Billy Jo’s expressive journal create an emotional bond among readers and leaves an unforgettable impression.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: “What can you tell me about the Dust Bowl?”

Reading Strategy: Free Choice (chapter)

Rationale for Strategy: This simple read provides a powerful basis for teaching students about both the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. It also allows students the opportunity to experience free verse poetry along with a valuable history lesson.

Posted by: Sammi Keller


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