Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

Top Five Books on Human Resources

Click on the title for each book to see book cover and more details.


Title: That Book Woman
Author:  Heather Henson
Illustrator: David Small
Publisher:  Atheneum Books for Young Readers
ISBN:  978-1-4169-0812-8
Year:  2008

Concepts: human resources, services, child schooling, poverty

Review:  Cal lives with his large extended family in a small house tucked away all by itself, up high in Kentucky's Appalachian Mountains. He takes pride in helping Pap with the plowing and herding, all the while having little tolerance for seeing his sister sit around much of the time reading books. How much good can it do to stare at all that chicken scratch anyway?

One day a woman on horseback braves the difficult trail to deliver books to their isolated house. Cal is baffled not only by her willingness to ride all day to make this delivery, but also by her refusal to take payment and her determination to repeat the visits no matter what the weather. It takes a particularly bad winter for Cal's pride to wear down and realize that the chicken scratch in those books she brings must have some value after all.

Motivated by the actual work of Kentucky's Pack Horse Librarians, this unique book touches on some of the difficulties faced by the rural poor and the power of volunteer efforts to make a difference. Stunning artwork in ink, watercolor, and pastel chalk by noted illustrator David Small adds a deep emotional element to help make That Book Woman as rich in artistic merit as it is in substantive content.

Review by:  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

How to Get This Book

Peppe the Lamplighter
Author: Elisa Bartone
IllustratorTed Lewin
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
ISBN: 0-688-10268-9
Year: 1993
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 3.3

Concepts: specialization, human resources

Summary: Peppe's father is upset when he learns that Peppe has taken a job lighting the gas street lamps in his New York City neighborhood.

Source of Summary: Publisher

How to Get This Book

Title: The Birdman
Author:  Veronika Martenova Charles
Illustrator: Annouchka Gravel Galouchko; Stephan Daigle
Publisher:  Tundra Books
ISBN:  0-88776-740-0
Year: 2006
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 4.7

Concepts: human resources, natural resources, scarcity, producers, poverty, markets

Summary:   This story, set in Calcutta, is based on a real person. Noor Nobi sews clothes to support his three children. When they are lost in an accident, he is overwhelmed with despair and unable to work. Weeks later, while walking through the market, he notices the cages crammed with birds, and he longs to free them. With the little he has in his pocket, he buys one of them and releases it in the shade of a banyan tree. Resolved, he works harder than ever before to earn money to buy more birds. With a new mission in his heart, he returns the next week to purchase as many as he can, nursing the frail ones back to health so he can set them free. The author includes background information on Noor Nobi and photographs of her visit to India and to the tailor's workshop. 

Source of Summary: School Library Journal

How to Get This Book

Title: A Full Hand
Author and Illustrator: Thomas Yezerski 
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0-374-42502-7
Year: 2002
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level:  3.9

Concepts: human resources, jobs, trade, innovation, child labor

Summary: Nine-year-old Asa helps his father by leading the mules that pull his canal boat.

Source of summary: Publisher

How to Get This Book

 Sky Dancers

Author:  Connie Ann Kirk
Illustrator: Christy Hale

Publisher: Lee  & Low Books
ISBN: 1-58430-162-7
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 4.4

  capital resources, human resources, Great Depression, jobs

  When his steelworking Mohawk Indian father is away from home, helping to build the Empire State Building, young John Cloud misses him. The boy, who has difficulty climbing a friendly old oak in his own yard, longs to travel to New York City to see the construction site where Papa dances on iron cross beams. ...  This book incorporates the economic necessities of the 1930s, the building boom of the day, contrasting cultures, and a romantic look at the Mohawk steelworking tradition.

Source of Summary:  School Library Journal