Counting on Grace
Counting on Grace
Counting on Grace
Elizabeth Winthrop
1910. Pownal, Vermont. At 12, Grace and her best friend Arthur must leave school and go to work as a “doffers” on their mothers’ looms in the mill. Grace’s mother is the best worker, fast and powerful, and Grace desperately wants to help her. But she’s left handed and doffing is a right-handed job. Grace’s every mistake costs her mother, and the family. She only feels capable on Sundays, when she and Arthur receive special lessons from their teacher. Together they write a secret letter to the Child Labor Board about underage children working in Pownal. A few weeks later a man with a camera shows up. It is the famous reformer Lewis Hine, undercover, collecting evidence for the Child Labor Board. Grace’s brief acquaintance with Hine and the photos he takes of her are a gift that changes her sense of herself, her future, and her family’s future.

Book Details


  • Historical Nonfiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Unassigned

Age Level: 

  • 12 and up
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This fictional account of early 1900s New England cotton mills is based on the work photographer Lewis Hine's documentation of mill life. A spinning mill may not seem like a playground, but for children whose parents worked in the mills, this unlikely recreation center was all the entertainment available. After school the children ran to the mill where they played in corners away from the growling machinery until their parents were able to take them home.

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