Links related to the study of "Out of the Dust" by Karen Hesse



  1. Photos of Dust Bowl:

  1. Timeline of the Great Depression:



Dust Bowl. Read about the Dust Bowl period. Was the book an accurate depiction of the time period? In four small groups, examine the Song Text, Audio Titles, Photographs, and Performers/Interviewees sections at the Voices from the Dust Bowl site. Pick examples that remind you of a particular story in the book.


Depression. Although Oklahoma was hit particularly hard by the depression, the rest of the country also suffered. How did the depression impact people in different parts of the United States? Using the Timelines page, create charts showing radical changes and prices.
Oral History. Interview a person who remembers The Great Depression and compare their memories with Billie Jo's experiences. Select a picture from the time period. Write a story that includes Billie Jo or the person you interviewed.
Dinosaurs. Fossils were found during the dust bowl. Why were they found during this time period? What types of dinosaurs were found?



1. Catastrophic Weather Event: The Dust Bowl 1936-1940

 This site has many interesting facts about culture and history during the 1930s. 


2. The Dust Bowl

This site provides a quick overview of what the Dust Bowl was and includes a video of a dust storm. 


3. 1930's Dust Bowl

This site is an excerpt from "The Dust Bowl, Men, Dirt, and Depression" by Paul Bonnifield. 


4. New Deal Time Line


5. Time Line of the 1930s

This site is a time line of the 1930s. 


6. Encyclopedia .com


7. Day of the Black Blizzard

This site provides you with a personal, pictorial, and audio account of a dust storm.


8. Dust Storms and Their Damage


9. Understanding and Defining Drought



Click here to see artifacts from Oklahoma in the 1930s.




Visions In the Dust: A Child's Perspective of the Dust Bowl

Students use primary materials and Out of the Dust to explore the Dust Bowl experience.




Annotated Bibliography

Before Connections


1. Cunfer, Geoff. The Dust Bowl. EH.Net Encyclopedia. Ed. Robert Whaples. 19 Aug. 2004. 27. Jan 2006.


Geoff Cunfer sets out to answer the question “What is the dust bowl?” His article includes where it was, what contributed to the creation of the dust bowl, and the New Deal response to drought and dust. He includes a list of sources and additional reading.


2. The History Place: Dorothea Lange. 2000. The History Place. 27 Jan. 2006.


This site contains Dorothea Lange’s photographs of migrant farm families with their original captions. The photographs here can be used to help provide a historical context for the novel and give students a visual representation of what life was like during this time period.


3. The Kansas Association of Wheat Growers. All About Wheat. 1 July 2003. 28 Jan. 2006.


The Kansas Association of Wheat Growers sponsors a website all about wheat. The site menu contains links to information on the wheat growing process, harvesting wheat, and products derived from wheat.


4. Karen Hesse: 1998 Newbery Speech for Out of the Dust. 2003. Scholastic. 28 Jan. 2006.


The full transcript from Hesse’s Newbery Award acceptance speech is contained in this website. Hesse speaks of writing in general, the idea for Out of the Dust, and the process of writing it, especially her research.


5. Karen Hesse’s Biography. 2005. Scholastic. 28 Jan. 2006.


This site contains a short autobiography of Karen Hesse. She talks about her desire to be a writer and the patience and persistence being published required. She loves writing, especially for kids. Hesse says there is no one else she would rather write for.


6. King, Jan and Rena Nesbit. Visions in the Dust: A Child’s Perspective of the Dust Bowl. 26 Sep. 2002. 28 Jan. 2006.


King and Nesbit have designed a lesson plan for reading Out of the Dust in 5-7 class periods. It is geared toward middle school classes—grades 6-8. The plan includes a historical background, guided reading journal, visual project, and ideas for evaluation and extension.



7. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. 31 Aug. 2004. 27 Jan. 2006.


This website contains a photograph from a dust storm in Kansas in 1935. The approaching dust wall is twice the size of the houses it is about to consume.


8. New Deal. 28 Jan. 2006. 28 Jan. 2006.


Wikipedia provides an extensive article on FDR’s New Deal. It contains a summary of the New Deal and its origins. Photos and sound clips about the New Deal are included. There is also an interesting list of notable New Deal programs.


9. Oklahoma Department of Commerce. County: Cimarron. 2005. 28 Jan. 2006. <>.

This site contains basic information about Cimarron County, Oklahoma, the setting for Out of the Dust. It also includes a map of the county.


10. United States. The White House. Franklin D. Roosevelt. 24 Dec. 2005. 28 Jan. 2006.


President Franklin D. Roosevelt plays an important role in the lives of Billie Jo and her family and is referred to often. This site contains a short biography of the president and a summary of his time in office.



During Connections


11. Banks, Drusilla and Ron Wolford. Apples ∧ More. 27 Sep. 2005. University of Illinois Extension. 4 Feb. 2006.


Apples and More is an educational and enjoyable website all about apples. Billie Jo’s mother loves her apple trees and they become a symbol of her mother’s life. The University of Illinois has connected pages with information about growing apples, apple festivities, the history of apples, apple education, and more. The site also provides ideas for activities involving apples.


12. Burn Causes and Identification. 2003. Grossman Burn Center. 4 Feb. 2006.


This webpage contains information on skin burns and is sponsored by the Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Hospital. The three major types of skin burns are described along with photographs of each. Billie Jo and her mother are both badly burned in an accident; the burns become, for Billie Jo, a symbol of her guilt.


13. CNN. The Dionne Quintuplets: A Depression-Era Freak Show. 19 Nov. 1997. 4 Feb. 2006.


A poem titled “Dionne Quintuplets” appears in the Summer 1934 section of Out of the Dust. This article from CNN explains about the Dionne quintuplets and how they were a sensation during the depression era.


14. Global Book Club. 27 Jan. 2006.



This website is compiled of ideas from Middle School teachers for activities to accompany the novel. They suggest assigning the students to write in the style of Karen Hesse, to use their research skills to find photographs of the dust bowl, and to present one of Hesse’s poems as a dramatic reading.


15. Hurst, Carol Otis and Rebecca Otis. Out of the Dust. 2005. The Education Website Design Company. 27 Jan. 2006.


Carol Hurst’s Children’s Literature Site contains a summary of the novel and important things to look for as you read. It also contains ideas for activities to accompany the novel, a short list of related books, and links to other pages containing information on Out of the Dust.


16. Kerosene. 2 Feb. 2006. 4 Feb. 2006.


This is an article containing basic information about kerosene. It explains what kerosene is, how it is distilled, its common uses, and other names. A bucket of kerosene left by the stove leads to the major conflict in Out of the Dust.


17. The Kidnapping. 4 Feb. 2006. PBS. 4 Feb. 2006.


Among other events of the time period, Billie Jo alludes to the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. This site contains an article about the kidnapping, ransom, and investigation involving Mr. and Mrs. Charles and Anne Lindbergh.



18. Skin Cancer. 28 Aug. 2003. Southeast Missouri Hospital. 4 Feb. 2006.


This site contains basic information about skin cancer. Of particular interest to students is the chart with photographs of melanoma. These photographs will help students visualize the skin cancer spots Billie Jo saw on her father.


19. Surviving the Dust Bowl. 1999. PBS. 4 Feb. 2006.


The Surviving the Dust Bowl website is designed to accompany a film of the same title. It contains a teacher’s guide, maps, timeline, and more information about the dust bowl.


20. Windmill. 29 Jan. 2006. 4 Feb. 2006.


Of particular interest in this Wikipedia article on windmills is the section on windmills in the United States. It explains how the windmills were used as pumps and provides a few photographs of windmills: one from modern day California and one from 1939 Kansas.


·      Dust Bowl Timeline



Historical Background

Dust Bowl During the Depression


dustbowl.html National Historic Route 66

New Deal Network

Surviving the Dust Bowl


America from the Great Depression to World War II:

Photographs from the FSA-OWI, 1935-1945

Documenting America

A New Deal for the Arts


The Great Depression and Children's Books


Bound for Glory: A tribute to Woody Guthrie

Southern Mosaic

Voices from the Dust Bowl


Great Depression Recipes


Dust Bowl Days

Migrant Workers Through the Lens of Dorothea Lange


Out of the Dust WebQuest


Then and Now Prices


Visions in the Dust



Online Resources


Discovery Channel Dust Bowl

dust bowl-smithsonian photos

links to other dust bowl sites

Audio Interviews of Survivors

Voices from the Dust Bowl

Weedpatch Camp Report

California's Crisis


Dust Bowl Museum

Eyewitness Account of Dust Bowl

The "New Deal" Remedies




If you would like to see a movie of a dust storm during the Dust Bowl you can click on the link (be prepared for a long time to download this one).



Learn about the Setting of the Novel

Explore the Events of the Novel

Read Theme-related Literature

Listen to Songs Mentioned in the Novel

Meet the Author




Collections in the Library of Congress: American Memory


Voices from the Dust Bowl: the Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection, 1940-1941



"Now What a Time": Blues, Gospel, and the Fort Valley Music Festivals, 1938-1943



Southern Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip