Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez

Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull.  Illustrated by Yuyi Morales.  Harcourt, Inc. 2003.  48 pages.  Publisher recommends for grades 1-3. ISBN: 9780152014377.

Cesar Chavez was born in Arizona in 1927.  He lived an idyllic life there until the drought came in 1937.  His family moved to California to become migrant workers.  Chavez was appalled by the poor working conditions, very low pay, long hours without rest or access to clean drinking water or bathrooms.  In his early 20s, Chavez devoted himself to a lifelong fight for the rights of farm workers.  The fight, in Chavez view, had to be non-violent.

Nonviolence is a powerful tool in seeking political change. Chavez was strongly influenced by the work of Mahatma Gandhi in India and Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States. Chavez convinced farm workers to use the nonviolent technique of boycotting picking grapes for one of the many grape growers in the Central Valley.  He publicized his cause by marching from Delano in the Central Valley of California to Sacramento, the capital of California. When he began, only 67 other people marched with him. By the time he arrived in Sacramento, more than 300 miles away, 10,000 people were marching with him.  In the middle of the March, the grape company gave in to the boycotting farm workers and signed a contract with them.  This was the first contract for farm workers in the United States.

The illustrations are rounded and flowing in rich, deep colors. They capture the emotions of the story, from the idyllic life in Arizona to the excitement when the marchers reached Sacramento.

The last two pages of the book are called “Author’s Note” and give some adult level background about the life and work of Cesar Chavez.

This book is listed as a biography of Cesar Chavez, but it is also a vivid story about the power of nonviolence in seeking change.

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