Decent Work + Economic Growth | Picture Book List For United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #8

Picture books are a great entry point to many difficult conversations with our kids. Read on for more about this creative project to help kids connect with and understand the global social and environmental justice goals as defined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in an age-appropriate way.

This picture book list is part of a series of picture book lists that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We’ve created a picture book list for each of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as well as a FREE coloring poster to track progress and explore the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with kids.

Learn More & Download The Free Coloring Poster

To learn more about the FREE coloring poster and see all 17 picture book lists, head to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Coloring Poster and Picture Book List homepage. Alternatively, simply sign up for our email list below and receive a link to download the FREE coloring poster.

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    What Are The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?

    In 2015, the United Nations adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a collective framework for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. The Sustainable Development Goals have broad intentions to end poverty and other deprivations while recognizing the need to simultaneously improve health and education, reduce inequality, spur economic growth, and tackle climate change.

    Decent Work + Economic Growth | United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #8

    The 8th United Nations Sustainable Development goal prioritizes decent work and economic growth for everyone around the world. Specifically, it outlines ideas about promoting sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth while providing full employment and decent work for all who wish to be employed.

    Videos To Understand the Global Goals

    To accompany the picture book list, these videos are great introductions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (also called the Global Goals) for students in Primary and Secondary Schools.

    Understand Goal 8: Decent Work + Economic Growth (Primary)

    Understand Goal 8: Decent Work + Economic Growth (Secondary)

    A Note On Buying and Borrowing Books

    We’ve included affiliate links to each of the books below. If you purchase through one of these links, Raising Global Kidizens earns a very small commission that has no impact on your purchase price.

    If you can find the books from your local library, from a friend, at an independent bookstore, or through a used book shop, those sources are ideal. Using the library is zero waste, saves money, and saves space in your home because you can read all the books without storing all the books on your bookshelves. If you’re not sure of the best way to use your local library, check out these tips to make the most of your local library. With a little exposure, your kids will learn to LOVE the library!

    If you prefer to listen to audiobooks, we recommend using, our favorite audiobook app. We’ve tried several audiobook apps and love that supports independent bookstores and offers a great user experience.

    Picture Books About Decent Work And Economic Growth

    The following list of picture books helps readers connect with those with a variety of different jobs and understand why it’s important to treat workers with respect and ensure workers are treated fairly and earn just wages. It’s also important to acknowledge that all work is valuable and people work to support their families in a variety of ways.

    Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers Strike in 1909 by Michelle Markel

    A young girl who immigrates to the United States arrives in the country and begins working in a garment factory to support her family. The conditions are terrible. She sacrifices her education to be locked in windowless factories for long hours to sew shirts. Eventually, she encourages thousands of garment workers to strike and ultimately fights for garment workers to unionize and receive better labor conditions. 

    Ages 4 – 8 | Pages 32

    One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway

    A young boy and his mother don’t have much extra money for food to eat. One day, they have a bit of extra money from a microloan they received, and the little boy buys a hen. The hen gives them extra eggs to sell at the market and also a source of food for their family. One small loan used to buy this hen helps establish prosperity for this family.

    Ages 8 – 12 | Pages 32

    Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin

    Turning the idea of labor organization into something fun and relatable for your readers, this story shows how cows and hens go on strike together to get better working conditions from the farmer who owns and operates their barn. Ultimately, they negotiate and the farmer gives them what they feel they deserve in exchange for their work.

    No matter the workers, everyone should have decent working conditions and fair wages for the work they do, and banding together is one way that workers with little power can get more power to leverage for their benefit. 

    Ages 2- 6 | Pages 32

    Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around The World by Vashti Harrison

    This book is not a story. Instead, it profiles about fifty women from around the world who were leaders in their time and area of expertise. They saw the world differently and paved paths for new ideas to flourish. While you likely won’t sit and read this book all at once, it’s a great reference to have at home and read a few pages each day. 

    Ages 8 – 12 | Pages 96

    A Day’s Work by Eve Bunting

    A little boy heads out with his grandfather, a day laborer, to find work. They find a job working in gardening, even though they do not know anything about gardening. They complete the project poorly and have to redo the work the next day. While readers see a glimpse into the life of a day laborer, the boy learns a lesson from his grandfather about honesty and integrity. 

    Ages 4 – 7 | Pages 32

    My Rows and Piles of Coins by Tololwa M. Mollel

    A young boy helps his mother at the market each weekend and sees a bike he wants to buy to help his mother carry their goods to the market to sell each week. He saves for many months to afford a bicycle and is so proud when he finally has enough money to help his family carry their wares to the market to sell to earn money for their family.

    Ages 4 – 7 | Pages 32

    Kid Blink Beats The World by Don Brown

    Even kids can strike for better working conditions. When certain newspapers wanted to raise their prices and cut into profits made by newspaper delivery kids, the kids and young adults fought back against the big, profitable companies.

    Ultimately, they arrived at a compromise with the paper companies that gave each side a bit of what they wanted. Even young people can have an impact when they use their voices and fight for what they believe is right and just. 

    Ages 5 – 9 | Pages 32

    Brick by Brick by Heidi Woodward Sheffield

    A young boy admires his dad for all the hard work he does as a bricklayer. He knows his dad works hard to save money for a special house for their family, one that includes a space for a garden for his mother. This story highlights the value of a decent job for all in an effort to build a life for a family.

    Ages 3 – 7 | Pages 32

    Night Job by Karen Hesse

    For some families, earning enough to support themselves is a family affair that involves the children and may also involve a second job. In this story, a young boy accompanies his dad to a second job cleaning a local school overnight. Although the work is hard, the story is told through the eyes of the boy. He loves his father and the time they spend together while he works.

    Ages 3 – 7 | Pages 32

    Ice Cream Man: How Augustus Jackson Made a Sweet Treat Better by Glenda Armand and Kim Freeman

    Innovation and small businesses provide financial security and opportunity to so many people. As shown in this book, it can even help people work out of poverty. This is the story of how one man, who invented a modern version of ice cream, slowly iterated on his innovative idea to create a growing business.

    We see this concept of small, artisan businesses being the foundation for lifting people out of poverty around the world continue today. This book, based on a true story, shows young readers how someone can turn hard work and their unique ideas into a thriving source of income to support their family. 

    Ages 4 – 8 | Pages 40

    The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle by Jude Isabella

    Bicycles are an important part of economic success for people in certain towns and countries. This story highlights how one bicycle helps a family better manage their crops and take goods to market to make money for the family. Something as simple as a bicycle greatly enhances their quality of life.

    Ages 8 -12 | Pages 32

    Yasmin’s Hammer by Ann Malaspina

    Two young girls lose their farm to a cyclone in Bangladesh and move to the city with their family in search of jobs. Unfortunately, they do not have enough money to send the sisters to school. Instead, the girls must work each day to earn money for the family. This story highlights how, for many families, making money to support the family is a responsibility born by all members of the family, including children.

    Ages 6 – 9 | Pages 40

    Someone Builds The Dream by Lisa Wheeler and Loren Long

    While much attention is paid to those who dream up new things, from bridges and buildings to books and parks, it takes many hands of skilled laborers to bring all those dreams to fruition. This book celebrates and highlights the hard-working people along the way who turn dreams into reality by pounding nails, digging trenches, managing printing presses, laying cables, and more.

    Ages 5 – 8 | Pages 48

    Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 by Alice Faye Duncan

    The book provides historical context about the struggle for workers’ rights and decent working conditions. It highlights the plight of African American sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee (in the United States) demanding fair wages, safer working conditions, and respect from their employers.

    Through Dr. Martin Luther King’s leadership and advocacy for the striking workers, the book demonstrates how individuals and leaders can work toward improving labor conditions and advocating for workers’ rights through community solidarity. Throughout history around the world, the struggle for decent work has often faced hurdles. It requires activism and collaboration to protect workers in the face of power from large organizations seeking to exploit them. 

    Ages 7 – 10 | Pages 40

    Viva’s Voice by Raquel Donoso

    After riding the bus with her dad, a public transit bus driver, many times, little Viva is excited for another day of going to work with him when she is off from school. However, her dad is not going to work that day because the bus drivers are on strike. Excited to join the movement, Viva goes to the picket line with her dad and learns about how workers band together to fight collectively for better wages and working conditions. 

    Ages 4 – 8 | Pages 40

    Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull

    Cesar Chavez grew up with a loving family that lost their farm due to drought and had to become migrant workers to make ends meet. He saw firsthand the struggles faced by farm workers who were treated poorly and paid meager wages. Eventually, he became frustrated with the working conditions and treatment of his family and friends and decided to fight back in a non-violent way. 

    In this non-fiction book, Chavez led a 340-mile peaceful protest march through California, and he ignited a cause and improved the lives of thousands of migrant farmworkers. Cesar wasn’t always a leader, but he knew things had to change, and he thought that—maybe—he could help change them. So he took charge. He spoke up. And an entire country listened.

    Ages 4 – 7 | Pages 48

    Have you read any other books about working, supporting families through hard work, or economic growth for young readers? If so, share them in the comments!

    Download a Printable Book List and Library List

    We’ve created a printable PDF of this book list that you can have as a resource for later. It includes images of each of the book covers as well as a single page of titles and authors to take to the library if you prefer to check out books while you visit. To download the list, drop your email address in the sign-up form below. After confirming your email address, you’ll receive the printable booklist in just a few minutes.

      And if you have not done so already, be sure to check out the other booklists aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and print out the FREE Coloring Poster!

      About The Author

      Jen Panaro

      Jen Panaro, a co-founder of Raising Global Kidizens, is a self-proclaimed composting nerd and an advocate for sustainable living for modern families. She’s also a serial library book borrower and a messy gardener.

      As a mom to two boys, she is passionate about helping families be more responsible stewards to their communities and the planet. She also owns Honestly Modern, an online space focused on eco-friendly living for modern families.

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