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Breaker Boys: How a Photograph Helped End Child Labor
Breaker Boys: How a Photograph Helped End Child Labor
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Reviewed Titles

Breaker Boys: How a Photograph Helped End Child Labor

Little boys, some as young as 6, spent their long days, not playing or studying, but sorting coal in dusty, loud, and dangerous conditions. Many of these breaker boys worked 10 hours a day, six days a week all for as little as 45 cents a day. Child labor was common in the United States in the 19th century. It took the compelling, heart breaking photographs of Lewis Hine and others to bring the harsh working conditions to light. Hine and his fellow Progressives wanted to end child labor. He knew photography would reveal the truth and teach and change the world. With his camera Hine showed people what life was like for immigrants, the poor, and the children working in mines, factories, and mills. In the words of an historian, the more than 7,000 photos Hine took of American children at work aroused public sentiment against child labor in a way that no printed page or public lecture could.

PublisherCompass Point Books
Age Level10-12 Years
Reading LevelGrades 5-7
SubjectHobbies & Crafts
Trim Size9 1/4 x 10 1/4
Page Count64



Barnes Noble Kids blog - Maria Burel

"It was not too long ago that child labor was common practice in the United States. Children as young as six worked 10-12 hours a day in dirty, dangerous mine and factory positions, making pennies per hour. While today we would be scandalized by these conditions, it took the photographic works of individuals like Lewis Hines to bring these realities to light. In Breaker Boys, young readers will explore the photographs and the history behind them." - Barnes Noble Kids blog

February 15, 2018

Reading Today Online - Barbara A. Ward, Washington State University Pullman

"The use of photography to document history is the guiding theme of this series from Compass Point. In this particular volume the photos of Lewis Hines from the early 1900s and his visual witness to the child labor atrocities drove the movement to change these horrible conditions for children. Beginning with the heart-stopping oversized photo on the cover of the book, the story of child labor in the United States unfolds." - Reading Today Online

March 27, 2013

School Library Journal, "Flashback: These Books of Historical Photographs Transp - Kathleen Baxter, former head of children's services at the Anoka County Library

""Captured History" is the perfect name for a fascinating series from Compass Point." - School Library Journal, "Flashback: These Books of Historical Photographs Transp

December 1, 2013


School Library Journal, "Core Essentials: 20 Outstanding Nonfiction Books for th - Kathleen Odean

"Photographs can change history. So contends this and other entries in the valuable “Captured History” series. Breaker Boys’ straightforward text focuses on a 1911 photograph by Lewis Hine of a group of boys who sorted coal at a Pennsylvania mine for 10 hours a day. The four chapters discuss coal mining, children in the mines, Hine and his work, and the slow changes in child labor laws. Students will be able to identify the structure as cause and effect, and analyze the role of the four chapters. They can also look for sentences and paragraphs that develop the idea of the political influence of photographs. To extend the topic, have students find more Hine photographs about child labor at the Library of Congress website or that can be used in presentations." - School Library Journal, "Core Essentials: 20 Outstanding Nonfiction Books for th

May 1, 2013

Michael Burgan

Michael Burgan

Michael Burgan has written numerous books for children and young adults during his nearly 20 years as a freelance writer. Many of his books have focused on U.S. history, geography, and the lives of world leaders. Michael has won several awards for his writing, and his graphic novel version of the classic tale Frankenstein (Stone Arch Books) was a Junior Library Guild selection.  Michael graduated from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in history. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his cat, Callie.

Go to the Author’s Page →