Activity 10:
Beyond Bud: Depression Era Characters

The Great Depression affected families throughout North America. The Bud, Not Buddy takes place in Michigan in the 1930s. There are many other good books set during the same time period. How are the experiences of the characters in these books alike and different?


Compare the lives of characters in different books set in the Depression era.

Process and Resources

  1. Let's start by exploring the Depression in Bud's home town of Flint Michigan. Choose one article at the Michigan: The Depression News Website. Read the article and match an idea in the article to a particular event in the book. You may also want to compare Flint Michigan in the 1930s and today using the Visitor Center for ideas.
  2. Bud, Not Buddy has many African American characters. Read The Great Depression for more information about the impact of the Depression on black people.
  3. After finishing Bud, Not Buddy, read one of the following books set during the Depression. Create a character log containing facts and insights into the characters.
    • A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck - Illinois
    • Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse - Oklahoma
    • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor - Mississippi
    • Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright - Wisconsin
  4. Use some of the resources below to learn more about the Depression. Look for facts associated with the problems and experiences of the characters in your book:
  5. At the end of Bud, Not Buddy, Bud joins the band. Let's say that Bud's band begins traveling around North America. Write a short story about Bud's encounter with the characters from one of the other books. For example, Joey (A Long Way from Chicago) or Garnet (Thimble Summer) could see Bud's band at the county fair. Do you think that Billie Jo (Out of the Dust) would enjoy playing the piano for Bud's band? Bud and Cassie (Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry) could discuss issues of racism.

Project Guidelines

Use the following guidelines for your short story:

  • Describe the personality of the main character in the book. Compare the experiences of Bud and your character. What do they have in common? How could this be worked into the short story?
  • Include facts about the Depression in your story.
  • Your short story should have a beginning, middle, and end.


Share your ideas with children at other schools through email. Create a dialog between "characters" at different schools. 

Teacher Resources
Student Resources

Developed by Annette Lamb, 3/00.