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Activities for the Reading Club's Featured Books

Our featured selections are award-winning books that are obtainable in print from libraries and bookstores, and are also available in alternate formats (electronic or braille). Grade levels are approximate.

A Long Way from Chicago

By Richard Peck

2000. Penguin Putnam Books

Available in braille from the following sources:

1. National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Free loan to registered users

2. Seedlings

Related Web Sites

• Richard Peck, Featured Author on Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site
• CBC Magazine Interview with Richard Peck
• Embracing the Child


1. Explore country life
Joe and Mary Alice are the city kids who have come to the country to visit their grandmother. Things are certainly different in the country than in Chicago!

You can also explore country life by visiting this web site:

You can view vintage pictures of farm implements, get directions on how to make butter and how to weigh a pig, and read memories of people who grew up in the country about the time that this book takes place.

2. Learn about The Great Depression
The book A Long Way from Chicago takes place during the time when the United States was going through hard times, referred to as The Great Depression (1929-1941). Many people were out of work, and could not get jobs. Banks closed and many people were poor and hungry. In the book, Joe and Mary Alice are sent to the country where food was more plentiful than in the city.

There is a great deal of interesting information on the Internet about the Great Depression. One of the best places to start is the Library of Congress site, American Memory.

Other web sites with information about the Great Depression are:

Voices from the Thirties,1607,7-160-15479-53568--,00.html

3. Learn about biplanes!
In the book, Joe gets to ride in an airplane, which were not common at the time. The type of plane available in the late 1920s and 1930s had two wings and was referred to as a "biplane." See pictures of biplanes at and also at

You can also see a video of Helen Keller riding a biplane in the Helen Keller Kids Museum Online.

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