I’m not sure how many kids have ever really asked what is Labor Day? It’s become synonymous with the unofficial end of summer, a three-day weekend, barbecues, and yeah, mattress sales. So much so, we kind of blow past it without the typical tributes and memorializing we tend to see on other American holidays.

Books to the rescue!

In the past, we’ve shared 9 lovely children’s books about the immigrant experience and one of our favorites on that list is the biographical picture book Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909, by Michelle Markel and Caldecott Honor artist Melissa Sweet.

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers Strike

This event has always extra special meaning to me since the matriarch of my own family, my Great-Grandmother Tillie, was one of the original ILGWU members starting up the Philadelphia area chapter soon after the fire. Clara Lemlich, the heroine of the book, was an immigrant to the US from Ukraine, just like Tillie was.

(I also noticed a review on Amazon from Clara’s own grandson thanking the authors which is pretty cool.)

If you don’t own the picture book, you can download it on Kindle or your favorite reader right now to read with the kids — or it’s available on Audible as an audio book.

I also found this wonderful Labor Day for Kids read-aloud on YouTube from the channel Ishan’s Story House, which is a nice short watch for the kids. But I hope you consider purchasing the book afterwards.

It’s a beautiful book (it incorporates bits of fabric and scraps into the illustrations), with an important story that just may have your kids expressing gratitude today for those who fought to gave us safer factories, fairer pay, dignity for workers — and the entire  weekend.

Not just one of them with three days in it.


Illustrations by Melissa Sweet © Balzer + Bray

Note: If you want to purchase the book, we’ve linked to Amazon for which we are an affiliate. We encourage you however to support your local independent bookseller if you are able, or visit your community library. Our publishers also support the Amazon workers in their effort to unionize

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