I taught American Literature this year for juniors, and in an attempt to give the dry, American literature canon some much needed relevancy, I paired our Great Depression unit with the current economic recession and topical book clubs set during the Great Depression.
Thinking of only Steinbeck novels when trying to come up with texts in Depression-era settings, I turned to Library Thing. Using the search page, I searched for all books with the tag "great depression" and got these results. From there, I added the tag "young adult" and got these results.
I recognized some of these books. Out of the Dust was one I had read before, and Esperanza Rising was another I knew of but hadn't read. From the library I checked out these as well as Nothing to Fear, Bud, Not Buddy, and The Truth About Sparrows and began reading as quickly as I could.
My school librarian was able to find and bring from other schools all the books except for Nothing to Fear and The Truth About Sparrows. These were eliminated from the selection and Of Mice and Men was added.
Library Thing can be an excellent tool for thematic unit planning, or for finding literature of any kind. I also used it this summer to find current young adult literature to read and stay current with.