Title: Welcome to Samantha's World, 1904:Growing up in America's New Century
Author: Catherine Gourley
Publisher: Pleasant Company Publications
Concepts: child schooling and work, discrimination, economic history, innovation, human resources, producers/consumers, scarcity, wants/needs
In 1986, American Girl™ introduced the character Samantha Parkington, a young girl growing up in America during the turn of the century. In addition to publishing several books about Samantha’s life set in 1904, American Girl™ produced Welcome to Samantha’s World in 1999, appropriately at the turn of another century.
Welcome to Samantha’s World uses text, black-and-white photographs of historical persons, color photographs of relevant objects, and gentle watercolor illustrations to bring to life many facets of American life during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Although the character Samantha came from a wealthy family, this book does not just cover the life of the privileged but also discusses life as an immigrant, a minority, a woman without voting rights, etc. Children will be equally delighted to see photographs of the toys and games available to their peers in the 19th century and saddened to read about children sent away from New York City on orphan trains in hopes of finding a family to adopt them out West somewhere.
As this book covers a vast array of topics, economic concepts crop up quite often. In particular, the section on children working in factories and the spread devoted to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory tragedy are perfect sounding-off boards for discussing modern child labor laws and safe working conditions.
This book is a definite win for children who love history, but even those who don’t usually enjoy reading about the past may change their mind after being introduced to this book with its many graphics, varied topics, and true stories of children growing up during a time of change.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children