175 years ago, The Dublin Evening Post reported a serious failure in the potato crop. Potatoes were not a cash crop, but the food eaten by tenant farmers and farmworkers who grew cash crops to pay the rent. The potato blight of 1845 was the start of the Great Hunger, or the Irish Potato Famine, a period of years when the potato crop failed and over a quarter of the population of Ireland—millions of people—would either die or leave for other countries. A large percentage of the emigrants settled in the United States, including some of my family.
We have some excellent resources for young people learning about the history of the famine, including eResources you can use without leaving home:
Primary Search (part of EBSCOhost Research Databases) has some of the most interesting articles, drawn from a no-longer-published children’s history magazine called Calliope. It was published by Cricket Media, which also publishes magazines like Ask (arts and science for ages 6–9), Cobblestone (American history for ages 9 to 14), Faces (people and places for ages 9–14), Muse (STEAM for ages 9–14) and the children’s literary magazine Cricket (and equivalents for younger ages, like Babybug, Ladybug and Spider). You can also find articles in encyclopedias from Scholastic GO! and World Book.
Our newest eResource, Scholastic Teachables, has a read-aloud play for students in grades 4–8 about Irish immigration, one of five such plays about different American immigrant groups. The short reader’s theater plays also include background information, a bibliography and suggestions for additional activities.
Here are some books you can also check out on this subject!