I remember listening to the song “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks. In the song, he talks about his dreams coming true, just, not the dreams he expected. This parallels nicely with the time period presented in Tenth Avenue Cowboy, the Gilded Era, and made for a great philosophical discussion disguised as a homeschool history lesson.
Our focus story on changing dreams: the Tenth Avenue Cowboy
Tenth Avenue Cowboy– Ben always dreamed of being of being a cowboy, but his dream looks unlikely living in New York City in the early 1900s. There’s not much call for cowboys in New York City. Somehow his dream will come true.
After reading Tenth Avenue Cowboy we talked about changing dreams, and how they can come true in unexpected ways. Princess had a decent example, but my boys……. Well…
After the discussion I had the kids all draw a picture of their dream coming true and write how it was different than expected. Well……. Batman dreamed he was opening presents and the present was him. Superman dreamed he was eating all sorts of food.
Princess was the primary one who understood the assignment, but her answer was very personal, so I’m not going to share it here.
That day the boys were just silly. Silly Superman, Silly Batman. But having deep philosophical discussions can be hard when you’re five and a boy.
Expanding 10th Avenue Cowboy for more ages
The Gilded Era is the age of rags to riches and self-made men. While as Americans we don’t tend to think of much happening between the 1870s and 1910s, much of how our country is defined now was created then. Railroads, cars, electricity, phones, and many famous inventions came about then. So, let’s play off of that:
- Who were the robber barons? How did they embody rags to riches and living the dream?
- How did the factory system change American society?
- How did trains and cars change American society?
- How does this story compare to the newsboy strike at the same time?