post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Orphan Trains
Author: Rebecca Langston-George
Major Themes: Orphans, Trains
Synopsis: The story of the orphan trains in America is told through the eyes of seven of the children who rode the trains.
I’ve been intrigued by the orphan trains ever since I read the Orphan’s Journey series by Arleta Richardson. Apparently a lot of other people are interested in the topic as well, since so many books have been written about the trains. This book with its simple title Orphan Trains gives children a brief nonfictional glimpse at the origins of the orphan trains and a peek into the lives of a few of the children who rode them.
The concept of the orphan train was thought up by Charles Loring Brace, a young minister in New York City in 1853. So many children were homeless and living on the streets that it broke the young man’s heart. He felt like the children would be much better off living with farm families in the Midwest than on the streets in a city, and came up with a way to get the children to the farms. He would put a number of children on a train, with several adults to care for them, and send them west. When the train stopped in a city, people who were interested in taking a child into their home would look them over and select one.
The stories of seven of the many thousands of children who rode the trains are told in this book. Although they did not all have happy experiences, all grew up to be upstanding citizens. The trains provided a way for the children to start a new life, and provided a bridge to forming the modern foster care system. I found this book quite interesting; children who enjoy true stories will enjoy Orphan Trains.
I received a free ecopy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.