Due to the Great Depression, the 1930s were difficult times. However, the generation of kids who grew up in the 1930s would go on to fight in World War II, and be later known as the "Greatest Generation." The lack of money and employment were big influences on the life of kids in the 1930s, as well as other hardships, including: child labour, lack of education and extreme poverty. Although they had their share of hardships, kids in the 1930s built strong values of hard work.
Family life for kids in the 1930s was a time of sacrifice, but through it all, family closeness was born out of necessity. Every one had to pitch in and look out for one another. Families helped each other out. Many kids were deprived of medical and dental care because they could not afford it, while in extreme cases, children became vagrants due to family break-ups.
Kids in the 1930s had many forms of entertainment. Radio was the television of the day, and popular programs for kids included "Little Orphan Annie," "Green Hornet," and Western serials such as "The Lone Ranger."
Playing sandlot baseball or stick ball were common diversions of the day, as well as other group games such as Kick the Can and Crack the Whip. Children were also introduced to the first Dr. Seuss book, "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street" in 1937.
Other games introduced in the 1930s were Monopoly and Scrabble. Poorer kids were forced to use their imaginations to entertain themselves, such as making bows from sticks and arrows from old roof shingles.
The 1930s were a difficult time for the education. Many localities could not afford to to provide schooling, while most parents could not afford to clothe and supply their kids for school. Some areas even charged for schooling; one father was heard to barter wood to educate his children. Many school districts shortened the school term, while others cut teacher salaries. A notable addition to education in the 1930s were the Dick and Jane readers, a series of books which have taught generations of Americans to read.
Chidren's Issues in the 1930s
While the 1930s were tough all around, for many kids, they were downright cruel. For the nation's poorest families, issues such as child labour and outright starvation were the norm. During the height of the depression, one-quarter of the nation's families had no wage earners, so many children were forced to work long hours for nomimal pay, just to survive. The 1930s were also the first time the federal government provided financial assistance to those families without a wage earner, through the Aid to Dependent Children program.
- New York State Historical Association; The 1930s
- "Life as a Child During the 1930s"; Park Place Middle School 266 Child Labor; May, 2008
- "Growing Up in the 1930s Was All About Survival"; The Regal Courier; Barbara Sherman; December, 2008
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