The first time I heard the word recession, I was 10 years old. It was 1978, and my parents, like everyone we knew, were cranky and stressed out about gas shortages and rising food prices. One of the ways I coped was by burying my nose in books and discovering kids who had it worse than I did. Like Ramona Quimby, whose dad got fired and took up residence on the couch. And Laura Ingalls, whose dad kept hitching up the wagon to drag his bonneted brood to the middle of nowhere. Many of the books I discovered during the late '70s featured themes of economic hardship that made my circumstances seem manageable by comparison—a happy coincidence, I thought at the time. Looking back, I'm not so sure this was an accident. A review of popular American children's books of the past century reveals a recurring theme in the children's publishing industry: When times are tough, cue the stories about times that were even tougher.
Click herefor a slide show on great children's books for tough economic times.