Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

Top Five Books on Interdependence

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


A Pen Pal for Max
Author: Gloria Rand
Illustrator: Ted Rand
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
ISBN: 0-8050-7586-0
Year: 2005
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level:  4.2

Concepts: interdependence, trade, altruism

Summary: The young son of a Chilean farmer writes a note asking for a "faraway friend," and places it in a box of grapes bound for the United States.

Source of Summary: Publisher

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Title:  A Castle on Viola Street
Author and Illustrator:  Dyanne DiSalvo
Publisher:  HarperCollins
ISBN:  0-688-17690-9
Year:  2001
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level:  4.0

Concepts: interdependence, scarcity, human resources

Summary:  Readers who are familiar with Habitat for Humanity and similar programs in theory can now see it in practice from a child's perspective. After Andy and his parents work as volunteers for an organization that buys deserted buildings and fixes them up, they finally get word that they will soon be working on a house that will become their own.

Source of Summary: School Library Journal

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Title:  An Orange in January
Author:   Dianna Hutts Aston
Illustrator:  Julie Maren
Publisher:  Dial Books for Young Readers
ISBN:  978-0-8037-3146-2
Year:  2007
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level:  3.6

Concepts:  natural resources, interdependence, markets

Review:  With its rich economics lessons, this delightful story for young readers describes the path of an orange from its growth in an orchard to its final destination in the hands of child.  The book's clear text and vivid illustrations clearly communicate the various steps along this journey, including the work by farm workers to pick the orange, the farmer’s delivery of the orange to a warehouse, a truck’s delivery of the orange to a grocery store, and the child’s purchase and enjoyment of the orange.  These lessons about natural resources, interdependence, and markets are highlighted with the idea (through the title, text, and illustrations) that the child can enjoy this ripe, juicy orange in the middle of winter.  This book is ideal for teachers, parents, and volunteers who are seeking enjoyable children’s books for younger readers with substantive content in economics and social studies.

Review by:  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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Mary Smith
Author and Illustrator: Andrea U'Ren
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0-374-34842-1
Year: 2003
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 2.5

Concepts: interdependence, jobs, human resources, economic history

Summary: In the days before alarm clocks, people like Smith had an important job in England-they were "knocker-ups," hired to wake the townsfolk for a few pence each week. The opening archival photograph establishes the woman as a historical figure, hand on hip, aiming a peashooter. What follows is a colorful tale of one day in her life, told with energetic prose and delightfully bold color illustrations. The peas hit windows: "TOCK! TOCK! TOCK!" "PLIK PLOK!" "CLICK CLACK SNAP!" rousing the laundry maids, the fishmonger, and the sleepy mayor, who sums up the contribution of the woman's humble work to the functioning of the community: "Without you- everyone would still be asleep in bed, no one would be working, and I wouldn't have a town to run-because everything would be shut down!"

Source of Summary: School Library Journal

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Title: You and Me and Home Sweet Home
Author:  George Ella Lyon
Illustrator:  Stephanie Anderson
Publisher:  Atheneum Books
ISBN:  978-0-689-87589-2
Year:  2009
Concepts:  interdependence, human resources, needs, poverty

Review:  Sharonda and her mother are living in the back room in Aunt Janey’s house where they have to fold up their bed daily and store their clothes in sacks.  Then a church group offers to build a house for them.  The story of building this house---from the empty lot to completion---is told from Sharonda’s point of view.  Her eagerness to help build her new home reveals her pride of ownership.  She even teaches her third grade class about how a house is built.

While she is too young to help with the actual construction of her new home, Sharonda is allowed to do such things as pass out water to the workers and sweep up at the end of the day.  The excitement about her home grows as the house nears completion.  The author captures the warmth and friendship that develops between the builders and Sharonda and her mother.

Sharonda’s home was built by Women Build, a part of Habitat for Humanity, in Lexington, Kentucky.  The author, George Ella Lyon, was part of the crew.  Stephanie Anderson’s illustrations add much to the book.  Using a variety of perspectives and vivid colors, they are both real and emotional.

Review by:
  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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