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 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.
It’s a beautiful book incorporating bits of fabric and scraps into the illustrations, and tells an important historical story that just may have your kids expressing gratitude for those who fought to gave us more than a three-day weekend; they gave us safer factories, fairer pay, dignity for workers–and the fight continues with the ongoing SAG-WGA 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. Alternately, I found this wonderful Labor Day for Kids read-aloud video on YouTube from Ishan’s Story House, in which she reads the book to kids.It’s is a nice short watch, but I hope you consider purchasing the book afterwards for your own library.
Note: If you would like to purchase the book, we’ve linked to Amazon for which we are an affiliate. We also encourage you to support your local independent bookseller if you are able, or visit your community library. Our publishers also support the newly founded Amazon Labor Union, and their continued fight for dignity in pay and working conditions.