What are you reading? Labor Day

by Andre B. Corbin
Stripes Europe

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a day of remembrance and tribute to the contributions workers (laborers) have made and continue to make to the prosperity, well-being and strength of the United States. Labor Day was originally proposed more than 100 years ago, but sources differ about the creator of this holiday. Some say it was Matthew Maguire, a machinist; others say it was Peter McGuire, a carpenter. In any case, in June 1894, Congress made it an official legal holiday, so Americans could celebrate Labor Day by not going to work.

Here are three great books that highlight the accomplishments and contributions of American workers to make our country great:

Labor Day (Holiday Histories)
By Mir Tamim Ansary
Holiday Histories is a series of books for younger readers to describe and explain American holidays or special days of remembrance. Mir Tamim Ansary is the popular author of numerous books in the series.

In “Labor Day,” your young person will learn the history of workers in America, why Americans celebrate Labor Day by relaxing, and how kids their age once worked in factories instead of going to school. It’s an easy read about the day of labor.

The Jungle
By Upton Sinclair
Upton Sinclair was an American journalist and novelist who may be best known for this classic novel portraying the harsh conditions faced by American workers, mostly recent immigrants, in the Chicago stockyards and meat-packing plants. Jack London called this book “the ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ of wage slavery.” Sinclair’s novel led to great public concern regarding the meat industry and resulted in legislative reforms and new federal food safety standards. Sinclair’s intent, however, was to highlight the plight of the American worker. He said, “I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.” This story can be hard to stomach but tells in a colorful and powerful manner how American workers survived “The Jungle.”

Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II
By Penny Colman
Rosie the Riveter is an American cultural icon representing the women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II to produced munitions and war supplies. Their contributions were invaluable to America, making and changing history.

Illustrated with wonderful black-and-white photographs from the era, “Rosie the Riveter” is geared toward young adults but will be enjoyed by all. This riveting story explains how millions of women did the “work of the men at war” and how women were encouraged to return home after the war.

What are some of your favorite reads? Submit your book reviews to contentteam@stripes.com.

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