Decades Book Challenge
Since Traer is celebrating our Sesquicentennial (1873-2023) this year, we will be doing a Decades Book Challenge all year long! To cover our 150 years, each month you will choose a book corresponding to a specific decade(s). This is YOUR Challenge so you can choose how you fulfill the prompt. You can choose a book published in that decade, a book about an event from that decade or set in that decade, or any topic related to something from the decade. It can be fiction or non-fiction.
You have a lot of leeway with your interpretation of a book relating to the decade(s)! Adults and children can participate! Remember, if you find a book you’d like to read that we don’t have in our library, we can get it from another library for free, or look on Bridges/Libby for an e-book or audiobook
You can pick up a log sheet at the circulation desk to keep track of your books each month (or if you are not in town we can email you the info). We will also have a list of topics and book ideas, or just ask and we can help you find something! We will be giving away gifts to those who complete the challenge! We hope you have FUN with this challenge as Traer celebrates our 150 years!
June 1950s - Topic Ideas
With the Great Depression just a memory and the post WWII economy strong, the 1950s began a time of rapid change in the US. Families were growing fast, giving rise to the baby boomer generation, and began flocking to the suburbs in search of an “idyllic” life amid increasing fears of the atomic bomb. The Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Civil Rights movement were major news events of the 1950s, but here are a few other noteworthy events:
1950 August 25: Bertie the Brain, one of the first computer games, is released.
North Korea invades South Korea in June. September–November: UN forces reclaim Seoul and invade North Korea.
Senator McCarthy’s campaign against alleged communists during the Red Scare which lasted from 1950-1954.
1951 September 8: The Treaty of San Francisco ends the Occupation of Japan and formally concludes hostilities between Japan and the US.
1952 February 6: Queen Elizabeth II becomes Monarch of the Commonwealth realms.
Development of the first effective polio vaccine by Jonas Salk.
1953 April 25: Discovery of the three-dimensional structure of DNA.
Elvis Presley's musical career is launched.
The first color television is produced.
1954 May 17: The Supreme Court of the United States decides Brown v. Board of Education, ordering an end to racial segregation in public schools.
1955 April 12: The Salk polio vaccine having passed large-scale trials earlier in the United States, receives full approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
The Vietnam War began in November.
1957 October 4: Launch of Sputnik 1 and the beginning of the Space Age.
First prescription of the combined oral contraceptive pill.
Beginning of the Asian flu in China, leading to a worldwide pandemic that lasts until the following year.
Invention of the optical disc and the cassette tape.
1959 February 3: Rock and roll musicians Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper die in a plane crash.
First documented AIDS cases.
June Book Ideas: (these are all available at the Traer Public Library)
B BRY BRY The life and times of the thunderbolt kid (setting: 1950s, Iowa)
B CHA CHA The girl with no name: the incredible story of a child raised by monkeys (setting: 1950s, Colombia)
B ROW ROW About my mother: true stories of a horse-crazy daughter and her baseball obsessed mother (setting: 1950s, Baltimore, MD)
616 SKL The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks (setting: 1950s, Maryland and Virginia)
636.1 LP LET The ride of her life: the true story of a woman, her horse, and their last-chance journey across America (setting: 1956-1956, across the US)
951.904 LP SID On desperate ground: the Marines at the reservoir, the Korean War’s greatest battle
951.904 DRU The last stand of Fox Company: a true story of U.S. Marines in combat
951.904 HUT Sgt. Reckless: America’s War (setting: Korean War – about a horse)
NEW 951.9 MAK Devotion: an epic story of heroism, friendship, and sacrifice (Setting: Korean War)
F BEN Her hidden genius (setting: 1950s, Paris & London)
F JEN Bloomsbury girls (setting: 1950, London)
F JOY Miss Benson’s beetle (setting: 1950, London & South Pacific)
F JOS The henna artist (setting: 1950s, India)
F OWE Where the crawdads sing (setting: 1952 & 1969, North Carolina)
F RIC The book woman’s daughter (setting: 1953, Kentucky)
F ROS White collar girl (setting: 1955, Chicago)
F SHA The frozen hours: a novel of the Korean War (setting: 1950, Korea)
F TAY The brighter the light (setting: 1950, North Carolina)
F VAN The good dream (setting: 1950s, Tennessee)
F WIN The orphans of Mersea House (setting: 1957, England)
F LP BEN The swans of Fifth Avenue (setting: 1950s, New York City)
F LP DEF An American summer (setting: 1955, Baltimore, MD)
F LP ERD The night watchman (setting: 1953, North Dakota & Minnesota)
F LP HUG By her own design: a novel of Ann Lowe, fashion designer to the social register (setting: 1953, New York & 1918, Tampa)
F LP LEE Go set a watchman (setting: 1950s, Alabama)
F LP OWE Where the crawdads sing (setting: 1952 & 1969, North Carolina)
F LP SCH The daughters of Erietown (setting: begins in 1957, Ohio)
F LP SEP Out of the easy (setting: 1950, New Orleans, Louisiana)
F LP TOW The Lincoln Highway (setting: 1954, multiple states)
J951.9 RIC Korea 1950: Pusan to Chosin
May 1940s - Topic Ideas
The 1940s is the decade when Depression turns into prosperity, when disillusionment gives way to optimism, when want yields to plenty — and when domestic peace is shattered by world war. The 1940s were defined by World War II, the Holocaust, atomic bombs, and the beginning of the Cold War. Women were needed in the workforce to replace men who went to war, and wartime production pulled the U.S. out of the Great Depression. We have no shortage of WW2 books, both non-fiction and historical fiction. World War II domonated the decade, but there are a few other noteworthy events that happened in the 1940's:
1940 May 15: McDonald's founded in San Bernardino, California.
1941 June–December: Hitler commences the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.
December 7: The Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor leads to the USA joining World War II.
1942 The Manhattan Project begins.
July 5 – Anne Frank goes into hiding
1943 January 15: The Pentagon is completed.
January 18: Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
February 2: Battle of Stalingrad ends with over two million casualties and the retreat of the German Army.
1944 June 1: First operational electronic computer, Colossus, comes online.
June 6: D-Day when over 150,000 allied troops landed on beaches in Normandy, France
1945 April 12: President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in office, making his vice president, Harry S. Truman the new president
May: End of World War II in Europe.
The Holocaust ends after ~12 million deaths, including 6 million Jews.
August: The US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, ending the war in the Pacific
October 8: The microwave cooking oven is patented, with the one of the first prototypes placed at a Boston restaurant for testing.
October 24: United Nations charter signed by 50 nations.
1947 April 15: Jackie Robinson becomes the first baseball player of color.
Polaroid cameras invented
June 27: Dead Sea Scrolls discovered.
1948 June 24: Berlin Blockade begins.
1949 June 8: George Orwell publishes Nineteen Eighty-Four.
May Book Ideas: (these are all available at the Traer Public Library)
F BEL The Paris architect (setting: 1942, Paris)
F CHA The stolen marriage (setting: 1944, North Carolina)
F DOE All the light we cannot see (setting: WWII France & Germany)
F FOR Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet (setting: 1940s and 1980s, Seattle)
F FUR A hero of France (setting: 1941, France)
F HAR The book of lost names (setting: WWII France, 2005 Germany)
F HAR The forest of vanishing stars (setting: World War II, Eastern Europe)
F HEA Girls of flight city: inspired by true events a novel of WWII, the Royal Air Force, and Texas
F KEL Lilac girls (setting: WWII; New York, Paris, Germany, Poland)
F KIE The baker’s secret (setting: 1944, Normandy, France)
F MEA Dragonfly (setting: World War II, Paris)
F MYE The tobacco wives (setting: 1946, North Carolina)
F NEM Suite française (setting: 1940, France)
F ORW Nineteen eighty four (1984 of the future; London & near-future Oceania)
F QUI The rose code (setting: 1940 & 1947, England)
F RIM The things we cannot say (setting: 1942 & 2019, Poland)
F ROB The gown: a novel of the royal wedding (setting: 1947, London; 2016, Toronto)
F ROS Sarah’s key (setting: 1942, 2002 – Paris)
F SAL Angels of the resistance (setting: 1940, Netherlands)
F SHA The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (setting: 1946, England & The Channel Islands)
F WEI Code name Verity (setting: 1943, France)
F WIL The golden hour (setting: 1941 Bahamas)
NEW F HLA The book spy (setting: WWII, New York City & Portugal)
NEW F REA Go as a river (setting: 1940s, Colorado)
NEW F SAL Angels of the resistance (setting: WWII, Netherlands)
NEW F SPE Beyond that, the sea (setting: 1940s London and Boston)
F LP GIL City of girls (setting: 1940s, New York City)
F IF GRE Things we didn’t say (setting: WWII, Minnesota)
F LP CAM The Paris dressmaker (setting: WWII, Paris)
F LP FUR Under occupation (setting: 1942, Paris)
F LP JEN The kommandant’s girl (setting: WWII, Poland)
B AIR BRU The race of aces: WWII’s elite airmen and the epic battle to become the masters of the sky
B FOU OLS Madame Fourcade’s secret war: the daring young woman who led France’s largest spy network against Hitler
B GOI PUR A woman of no importance: the untold story of the American spy who helped win WWII
B SMI PAP Inferno: the true story of a B-17 gunner’s heroism and the bloodiest military campaign in aviation history
B ZAM HIL Unbroken: a World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemption
NEW 823 KEN Schindler’s list
341.6 Enemies within: Iowa POWs in Nazi Germany
940.53 BRA Three ordinary girls: the remarkable story of three Dutch teenagers who became spies, saboteurs, Nazi assassins – and WWII heroes
940.53 EDS The monuments men: Allied heroes, Nazi thieves, and the greatest treasure hunt in history
940.53 SUL The Betrayal of Anne Frank: a cold case investigation
940.53 WIN 1944: FDR and the year that changed history
940.54 AMB Band of brothers: E company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne: from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s nest
940.54 BRO The greatest generation
940.54 FEL Ghost riders: when US and German soldiers fought together to save the world’s most beautiful horses in the last days of World War II
940.54 LOR The miracle of Dunkirk: the true story of Operation Dynamo
940.54 MUN Code girls: the untold story of the American women code breakers of World War II
940.54 SAT We band of brothers: the Sullivans and World War II
940.54 SHA World War II day by day
F TN HES Girl in the Blue Coat (setting: WWII, Netherlands)
F TN SEP Salt to the sea (setting: WWII: East Prussia)
JF LOW Number the stars (setting: 1943, Denmark)
JF GN PAL White bird (setting: World War II, France)
JF GN TAR I survived the Nazi invasion, 1944
J940.54 HUE Voices of World War II: stories from the front line
April - 1930’s – Topic Ideas
The 1930s saw the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl which was the worst drought in American history. While in Europe there was the rise of Hitler and Nazi power in Germany, and the beginnings of World War II.
1930 February 18: Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto.
July 13–30: The first FIFA World Cup is hosted in Uruguay.
1931 March 3: "The Star-Spangled Banner" is adopted as the United States's national anthem.
May 1: Empire State Building completed.
June: Floods in China kill up to 2.5 million people.
1932 March 1: Lindbergh baby kidnapping.
The neutron is discovered by James Chadwick.
1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurated to fourth term as President of the United States.
December 5: Prohibition in the United States is abolished.
1934 May 23: Bonnie and Clyde are shot to death in a police ambush.
August 2: With the death of President Hindenburg, Hitler declares himself Führer of Germany.
1935 September 15: Enactment of the anti-Semitic Nuremberg racial laws.
1936 December 11: After a reign shorter than one year, Edward VIII abdicates and hands the throne to his brother, George VI.
The Hoover Dam is completed.
George Nissen and Larry Griswold build the first modern trampoline.
1937 May 6: German zeppelin Hindenburg crashes in Lakehurst, New Jersey, ending the airship era.
September 21: J. R. R. Tolkien publishes The Hobbit.
December 21: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the first feature-length animated movie released.
1938 April 18: DC Comics hero Superman has its first appearance.
November 9 – 10: Kristallnacht, a pogrom, killing over 90 Jews in Germany while destroying 267 synagogues, and over 7,000 Jewish businesses.
December: Time Magazine declares Adolf Hitler as Man of the Year.
1939 August 25: Release date of MGM's The Wizard of Oz.
September 1–October: Nazi invasion of Poland triggers World War II in Europe. Soviet invasion of Poland begins 16 days later.
September 3: Britain and France declare war on Germany; World War II begins.
December 15: Release date of Gone with the Wind.
B NEW NEW Diamonds at dinner: my life as a lady’s maid in a 1930s stately home
(setting: 1930s, England)
B ROO JEN Franklin Delano Roosevelt
NEW B SPI SPI Maus I & II : a survivor’s tale (1930s Poland, and 1970s, New York City)
305.23 BRO The Orphans of Davenport: eugenics, the Great Depression, and the war
over children’s intelligence
798.4 HIL Seabiscuit: an American legend (setting: 1938, USA)
979.12 BRO The boys in the boat: nine Americans and their epic quest for gold at the
1936 Berlin Olympics
929.9 SED Star-spangled banner: our nation & its flag
943.08 LP LAR In the garden of beasts: love, terror, and an American family in Hitler’s
978 EGA The worst hard time: the untold story of those who survived the great
American dust bowl
JF BAU The Wizard of Oz
JF TAR I survived the Hindenburg disaster, 1937
J811 KAL The Star-spangled banner
March - 1920’s – Topic Ideas
1920s From the 1920s-1950s Georgia Tann ran a black-market baby business at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis. More than 5000 children (many who weren’t actually orphans) were trafficked.
1920 January 17: Prohibition in the United States begins.
May 21: The Mexican Revolution ends.
19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.
National Football League is formed.
1921 January 25: Premiere of the science-fiction play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), in which the word "robot" was first used.
May 31-June 1: Tulsa race riot.
July 29: Adolf Hitler becomes Führer of the Nazi Party as hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic begins.
1922 November 4: Howard Carter discovers Tutankhamen's tomb.
1923 October 16: The Walt Disney Company is founded.
1924 January 25 – February 5: The first edition of the Winter Olympic Games is hosted in Chamonix, France.
May 10: The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation founded under J. Edgar Hoover.
The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is held.
1925 July 18: Hitler's Mein Kampf is published.
Nellie Tayloe Ross elected governor of Wyoming and is first female governor in the USA.
1926 June 19: National Broadcasting Company (NBC) founded in New York City as first nationwide radio broadcasting system.
1927 May 18: The Bath School disaster, a series of violent attacks by Andrew Kehoe results in 45 deaths in Michigan, USA.
May 20 – 21: Charles Lindbergh performs the first nonstop flight from New York City to Paris; becomes a world hero.
October 4: Mount Rushmore construction begins in South Dakota, U.S.
1928 September 3: Accidental rediscovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming.
November 18: Steamboat Willie, is the first appearance of Mickey Mouse.
Bubble gum is invented.
1929 February 14: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago
May 16: The first Academy Awards are presented.
October 24 – 29: Wall Street crash of 1929 and the beginning of the Great Depression.
March Book Ideas: (these are all available at the Traer Public Library)
F BRO Blind tiger (setting: 1920s, Texas)
F WIL A Certain age (setting: 1920s, New York City)
F ZEL The Dressmakers of Prospect Heights (setting: 1924, Brooklyn; late 19th C Russia; 1910s New Orleans)
F LP TOW A Gentleman in Moscow (setting: 1922, Russia)
F SCH Last call at the Nightingale (setting: 1924, New York City)
F STE The Light between oceans (setting: 1920s, Australia)
F ARM The Light of Luna Park (setting: 1926, New York City; 1951)
F LP DAV The Magnolia palace (setting: 1920s & current day, New York City)
New F PAU The Manhattan Girls: a novel of Dorothy Parker and her friends (setting: 1921, New York City)
F ROB Moonlight over Paris (setting: 1924, Paris)
F BEN The Mystery of Mrs. Christie (setting: 1926, England)
F RIN The Other typist (setting: 1923, New York City)
F MCL The Paris wife (setting: 1920s, Paris)
F SKE The Second life of Mirielle West (setting: 1920s, Hollywood, and Louisiana leper colony)
F KLA Villa America (setting: 1920s, France)
B LIN KES The Flight of the century: Charles Lindbergh & the rise of American aviation
B LIN LIN The Spirit of St. Louis (Charles Lindbergh’s account of his transatlantic crossing in 1927)
362.73 CHR Before and after: the incredible real-life stories of orphans who survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society (setting: 1920s-1950s, Tennessee and USA)
363.17 MOO The Radium Girls (setting: America, 1917 through the 1920s)
364.132 MCC Prohibition in Eastern Iowa (setting: 1920—1933, Iowa)
630.9773 MEY Days on the Family Farm: from the Golden Age through the Great Depression (setting: 1901-1930s, Illinois)
918.1 GRA The Lost city of Z: a tale of deadly obsession in the Amazon (setting: 1925, South America)
919.89 SHA The stowaway: a young man’s extraordinary adventure to Antarctica (setting, 1928, New York, Antarctica)
932 SAN Egyptology: search for the tomb of Osiris: being the journal of Miss Emily Sands, November 1926 (setting: 1926, Egypt)
973.91 BRY One summer: America, 1927
976.60 GRA Killers of the Flower Moon: the Osage murders and the birth of the FBI (setting: 1920s Oklahoma)
J384 FAN The Disney book: a celebration of the World of Disney
J384.8 PAS The Story of Disney
J796.357 NEL We Are the ship: the story of Negro League baseball (setting: 1920s, USA)
J978.3 BRO Mount Rushmore
February - 1900’s – 1910s – Topic Ideas
1901-1910 Immigration hit an all-time peak with over 8.8 million immigrants in the 10 years from 1901-1910.
1900 Galveston Hurricane in Texas kills 8000 people, making it the deadliest natural disaster in United States history. Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed and 25% of the population were left homeless.
L. Frank Baum publishes The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The first edition’s 10,000 copies quickly sold out. It was adapted as a Broadway musical in 1902, and in 1939 the classic film with Judy Garland was released.
1901 Sept 6 - Assassination of William McKinley. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt assumes office as President of the United States following McKinley's death on September 14.
England’s Queen Victoria who ruled for 64 years, also died this year.
First Nobel Prizes awarded.
1903 December 17: First controlled heavier-than-air flight of the Wright Brothers.
1906 April 18: An earthquake in San Francisco, California, magnitude 7.9, kills 3,000, and destroys 80% of the city.
1907 Bakelite, the world's first fully synthetic plastic, invented in New York by Leo Baekeland, who coins the term "plastics".
1908 October 1: The Ford Motor Company invents the Model T.
First commercial radio transmissions.
1910 April: Halley's Comet returns.
1911 March 25: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City results in the deaths of 146 workers and leads to sweeping workplace safety reforms.
1912 April 15: Sinking of the RMS Titanic after it struck an iceberg. Over 1500 passengers and crewmembers were killed.
1914 July 28: World War I begins.
1915 The first large scale use of poison gas by both sides in World War I occurs, first by the Germans at the Battle of Bolimów on the eastern front, and at the Second Battle of Ypres on the western front, and then by the British at the Battle of Loos.
A torpedo from a German U-boat sank the Lusitania killing over 1000 people.
1917 April 6: USA joins the Entente for the last 17 months of World War I
May–October: Apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary in Fatima, Portugal.
1918 July 16–17: Assassination of Tsar Nicholas II and his family.
The Armistice of 11 November 1918 ends World War I.
The Spanish Flu infected approximately one-third of the world’s population, and killed an estimated 20 million-50 million people, including 675,000 Americans.
February Book Ideas: (these are all available at the Traer Public Library)
940.47 MOO No man’s land: the trailblazing women who ran Britain’s most extraordinary military
January - 1870’s – 1890s – Topic Ideas
1865 – 1900s – The “Wild West”
Notorious for gunslingers, outlaws, train robberies, westward expansion and gritty lawmen
1880-1900 – The “Gilded Age”
A time when things were glittering on the surface, but with shaky foundations and corruption underneath. The US experienced rapid growth in population and industry. Skyscrapers became commonplace, as did trolleys, cable cars, and subways. Unhealthy and dangerous working conditions arose leading to labor strikes and the formation of labor unions.
1873 – Blue Jeans & Barbed Wire invented
Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis patented a method of reinforcing work pants with metal rivets.
Joseph Glidden applied for patent for double stranded barbed wire.
Both of these items had major impact for the settlers moving west.
1876 – Battle of Little Big Horn
The battle was fought on June 25, 1976, in Montana near the Little Big Horn River. General George Custer led 600 federal troops against around 3000 Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne warriors.
1879 – Light bulb invented
Thomas Edison publicly demonstrated an incandescent light bulb. In 1880, he created the first strand of electric lights and strung them outside during the Christmas season. It wasn’t until 1895 when President Grover Cleveland spurred the acceptance of indoor Christmas lighst by having them in the White House.
1881 – Outlaw Billy the Kid shot and killed by a lawman in the New Mexico Territory. Several months later, outlaw Doc Holliday and lawman Wyatt Earp were involved in a gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, AZ.
1881 – American Red Cross
Clara Barton founded the Red Cross after learning about a similar organization in Switzerland
1883 - Brooklyn Bridge opened on May 24, 1885
At the time it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River.
1886 – The Statue of Liberty constructed on Liberty Island.
The statue was first built in France, then disassembled and shipped to New York City in 1885.
1887 – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle debuted his literary detective Sherlock Holmes
Doyle went on to write four novels and 56 short stories about Sherlock Holmes.
1888 – Jack the Ripper murders occur in London
The unsolved murders of five women occurred that autumn. Over the next four years perhaps a dozen others were committed by the same person.
1890 – Wounded Knee Massacre in South Dakota
This was the last battle in the American Indian Wars, and represented the end of the American Old West.
1891 – Carnegie Hall in New York City opens.
One of the most prestigious facilities in the world, Carnegie Hall has set the international standard for musical excellence as the aspirational destination for the world’s finest artists. It was built by steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who also funded the building of many small-town public libraries across the country.
1892 – Basketball invented
James Naismith, a physical education teacher, created the games using two half-bushel peach baskets.
1893 – Chicago hosted the World’s Fair. The fair debuted the first Ferris Wheel.
1896 – Olympic Games revived in Athens
The games originally were held in Olympia, Greece, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. The modern era began with the formation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894.
1896 – Gold discovered in the Klondike region of Alaska.
When news reached Seattle and San Francisco the following year, it triggered a stampede of prospectors. Roughly 100,000 people of dreams of striking rich flocked to Alaska, although only around 30,000 completed the journey. Some became wealthy, but the majority went in vain.
1898 – Spanish American War
The American Battleship USS Maine exploded in the harbor at Havana, Cuba. This mysterious event lead to the US going to war with Spain.