International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day, is celebrated annually on May 1 in many countries. The date was chosen to commemorate the 1886 Haymarket affair when workers took to the streets in Chicago, demanding eight-hour work shifts. If your child is wondering why he or she did not have to go to school today, talk to them about May Day. And here are some books to introduce your kids to, which will help them understand workers’ rights better:
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin (Age 3+)
In this funny farmyard tale, Farmer Brown’s cows discover a typewriter. The cows then type up their demands for electric blankets on cold nights, which the farmer refuses to provide. The cows go on strike, typing a notice that there would give no milk that day.
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel and Melissa Sweet (Age 5+)
This picture book tells the story of a young Ukranian immigrant to US Clara Lemlich who leads the largest walkout of women workers in America in the 1900s.
Clifford Gets a Job by Norman Bridwell (Age 2+)
A big red dog Clifford is fired from his circus and farm jobs before after which he decides to find a job to help pay for his food bills.
Kids on Strike by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (Age 9+)
This illustrated book describes the difficult working conditions that made many workers, including children, go on strikes, from the mill workers’ strikes in 1828 and 1836, and the coal strikes at the turn of the century to the work of Mother Jones who stood up against child labour.
Yasmin’s Hammer by Ann Malaspina (Age 5+)
Yasmin in Bangladesh dreams of going to school as she works at a brickyard to support her family. She hammers at bricks all the day long because she is determined to make some extra money to buy a book.
Mommies at Work by Eve Merriam (Age 3+)
What do mothers do all day? This beautifully illustrated book takes you through the different kinds of jobs performed by working mothers.