How will these resources help you?
Understanding the famine
Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845–1850
by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, (2005), 9780618548835
The causes and effects of the potato famine
The Irish Potato Famine: A Cause-And-Effect Investigation
by Jill Sherman, published by Lerner Publications, (2016), 9781512411195
You could use the book to teach about immediate and underlying causes. There is a stereotype about Irish people only eating potatoes; this book explains the colonial farming system that changed their diet. While potato blight immediately caused the famine, the land-owning system in Ireland was the underlying cause and increased the severity of the food crisis. The book includes a cause-and-effect chart, which you could extend with your class by dividing it into underlying and immediate causes. You could also relate the situation in Ireland to the growing of crops for export in other British colonies.
A family affected by the Great Famine
Hunger: A Tale of Courage
by Donna Jo Napoli, published by Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books, (2019), 9781481477505
The book avoids stereotypes. Lorraine comes from a traditional Irish-Catholic society, where men dominated, but she is a strong female character. The inclusion of a sympathetic English character means the book does not fall into the trap of seeing all Irish people as good and all English people as bad.
Irish emigration to the USA
The Disaster of the Irish Potato Famine: Irish Immigrants Arrive in America (1845–1850)
by Sean O'Donoghue, published by PowerKids Press, (2016), 9781508140696
Europe: A Natural History - The Irish Famine
published by BBC, (2007)
Text © Cath Senker, 2020, 2023