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Victorian London - Books and Activities

Guest Author - Paula Laurita

An upper elementary/middle school walk through Victorian London.

An exploration of Victorian London cam be made through an overlapping two-part study:

  • Charles Dickens
  • Street children in London

The Industrial Revolution brought about great changes that shaped the notable advances and problems of the Victorian era. Charles Dickens honestly approached the effects of economic forces on social structure in his writing. He sought to bring them to the public conscience. Writing novels set in a society where there was a vast gulf between the privileged and the working poor and the destitute, he repeatedly dealt with the consequences of crime, poverty, disease, hunger, homelessness, and lack of education on children.

Students will use Victorian London as a lens to study these issues and investigate peripheral interdisciplinary subjects.

Featured Books:
Charles Dickens: The Man Who Had Great Expectations, by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema.
This biography emphasizes Dickens' rise from difficult circumstances to success.

Activities/Discussion Topics:

  • Research and create a time line of key dates from the Victorian era, Industrial Revolution, Dickens' life, and publication dates of his novels.
  • Create Readers' Theatre presentations from appropriate passages from Dickens' novels.
  • Draw a map of London with key landmarks mentioned in the readings. Study the changes that took place in the city from pre-industrial to industrial.
  • Note the kinds of pollution/disease that were evident. Investigate if these pollution/disease sources are still a problem and what has been done to reduce them.
  • Investigate economic outcomes of industrialism and observe its effects on rates of poverty, disease, employment, income, homelessness, and crime.
  • Examine the history of child labor--what economic forces brought about its increase and what social actions ultimately fostered a decline in the practice.
  • Consider parallels between industrialism in England and the U.S.
  • What lessons can the U.S. learn from the Victorian era?

Web Quest
Take a Web Quest with these resources:

  1. What Was Life Like For A Poor Child In The 1840s?
  2. School Life In The 1800s.
  3. Charles Dickens
  4. A Charles Dickens Webquest
  5. A Dickens of a Party

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Content copyright © 2013 by Paula Laurita. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Paula Laurita. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Christine Sharbrough for details.

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