Children of the Orphan Trains

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Children of the Orphan Trains is the true story of the American Indian children sent away from their people and forced to learn European culture and customs.  Some of these children were orphans; others were not.  These children hoped to perform well enough to be adopted.  Some children succeeded while others ran away or died.

Children of the Orphan Trains is a good choice for second and third graders and connects to American history.  The book is illustrated with photographs.  The photographs have text captions, which is an important feature to point out to students.  Before reading the captions, I would ask students to infer what is happening in each photograph and to predict the emotions the Indian children felt.  At the end of reading, students would have the opportunity to write how they would feel if they were forced to leave home and become a member of a different society.

Littlefield, H.  (2001).  Children of the orphan trains.  Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books.

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