Growing Up in Coal Country by Susan Campbell BartolettiGrowing Up in Coal Country by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Growing Up in Coal Country

bySusan Campbell Bartoletti

Paperback | March 19, 2004

Pricing and Purchase Info

$11.56 online 
$12.99 list price save 11%
Earn 58 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Inspired by her in-laws' recollections of working in coal country, Susan Campbell Bartoletti has gathered the voices of men, women, and children who immigrated to and worked in northeastern Pennsylvania at the turn of the century. The story that emerges is not just a story of long hours, little pay, and hazardous working conditions; it is also the uniquely American story of immigrant families working together to make a new life for themselves. It is a story of hardship and sacrifice, yet also of triumph and the fulfillment of hopes and dreams.
Susan Campbell Bartoletti is the award-winning author of several books for young readers, including Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850, winner of the Robert F. Sibert Medal. She lives in Moscow, Pennsylvania. Visit her website at .
Title:Growing Up in Coal CountryFormat:PaperbackDimensions:128 pages, 8.5 × 8 × 0.33 inPublished:March 19, 2004Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0395979145

ISBN - 13:9780395979143

Appropriate for ages: 10


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating! Reason for Reading: Read aloud to my son as part of our history curriculum. This book centres on Pennsylvanian coal country in the late 1800s to early 1900s. It also mainly focuses on the child workers though it doesn't exclude the men, nor the women back at home. The book is also profusely illustrated with contemporary photographs, some from the author's family as it was personal history that inspired her to write the book. During the author's research she listened to many interview tapes and read transcripts and has included many quotes from men who were once the boys described in the book. This makes for very interesting reading and brings the book closer to reality for the juvenile reader. The book is incredibly thorough, going through all the different jobs involved in working at the mine. Then moving on to the company village and day-to-day life for the women and such things as scrounging for scraps of coal, the company store and school. Then the book moves on to recreation after working hours. A chapter on dangers and tragedies and common accidents prefaces a final chapter on the beginning of unionization and the big strike in Pennsylvania. A conclusion then follows up with the reasons coal mining ended as such a big industry. While the book is centred on Pennsylvania, the majority of the information is general in nature and can be applied to anywhere coal mining took place in North America. The photographs are amazing and add volumes to the book's enjoyability. The text is narrative, interesting and while never written down to its audience does keep topics lively remembering who it's audience is. My son loved this book so much. Often when I read to him he will sit in another chair than me and I will hold the book up for him to look at pictures, or he likes to walk around the room but whenever I brought this book out he jumped up and ran right over to snuggle right next to me so he wouldn't miss the pictures. For myself, this is a topic I really knew little about and I enjoyed the book very much as well. A tremendously, enjoyable read about an industry once so important to everyday life and the terrible working conditions, child labour, and oppression workers had to face and in spite of it all they grew up to actually have fond memories and say it wasn't all bad. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2010-06-19

Editorial Reviews

Bartoletti has written a concise, thoroughly researched account of the often grim working and living conditions in Pennsylvania coal towns. An accessible writing style, as well as the abundance of stimulating information, makes for an engrossing historical account. Quotes from personal interviews with miners, as well as taped interviews and transcripts, provide a refreshing first person frame of reference. Horn BookWith compelling black-and-white photographs of children at work in the coal mines of northeastern Pennsylvania about 100 years ago, this handsome, spacious photo-essay will draw browsers as well as students doing research on labor and immigrant history. The story of these boys' lives are a part of Russell Freedman's general overview Kids at Work (1994) and of Betsy Harvey Kraft's biography Mother Jones (1995); but there's a wealth of personal detail and family story here that focuses on whatit was like in the mines and in the homes and communities of these working children. Lewis Hines' famous pictures will grab readers, and Bartoletti has also gathered dozens of archival photos and heartbreaking oral histories. They show what it was like for eight-year-old breaker boys sorting coal surrounded by deafening noise and black clouds of dust, steam, and smoke; what it was like to be a mule driver underground; what it meant to be a spragger, a butty, a nipper. Drawing on personal interviews, archival tapes and transcripts, and a wide range of historical resources, Bartoletti finds heartfelt memories of long hours, hard labor, and extremely dangerous working conditions, as well as lighter accounts of spirited rebellion, mischief, and bonding. The immigrant experience is an integral part of this coal culture": the strength of ethnic groups and the prejudice against them, and their banding together to form strong labor unions. As with most fine juvenile nonfiction, this will also have great appeal for adults.Booklist, ALA, Starred ReviewBartoletti uses oral history, archival documents, and an abundance of black-and-white photographs to make turn-of-the-century mining life a surprisingly compelling subject for today's young people.School Library Journal, Starred"