Sometimes it is hard to remember that things we often take for granted now were in times past hard to obtain and deeply treasured. So it is with me and books. I always have a stack of books that I am either reading or looking forward to starting. Whether they are my own or on loan from the library or a friend, books are a constant in my life. I rarely even have to wait for a book I really want to read.
However, this was not so for those living in Appalachia during the 1930s. To combat this isolation and lack of resources, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” created programs like eastern Kentucky’s Pack Horse Library Project designed to provide reading materials to rural portions of Eastern Kentucky that had no access to public libraries. These “Book Women” (the Pack Horse Librarians) rode horses or mules and traveled 50 to 80 miles a week along rough and dangerous terrain to bring books and other reading materials to their patrons.
For a look into this time period and the brave, hardworking women who made this possible, check out the following resources:
Pack Horse Librarians website
Kentucky Kinfolk website
10 Engines website
Looking for ideas to engage your students in this learning process? Check out these activities:
Reading Guide for That Book Woman (from TeacherVision)
Kids Book Club website