The Paper Cowboy

The Paper Cowboy
Written by Kristin Levine

In a small town near Chicago in 1953, twelve-year-old Tommy faces escalating problems at home, among his Catholic school friends, and with the threat of a communist living nearby, but taking over his hospitalized sister’s paper route introduces him to neighbors on whom he comes to rely for help.

Primary Source Pairing:
In uncertain times and in an unstable home, Tommy is not sure whom to trust. While playing with a friend in the piles of newspapers collected for the local paper drive, Tommy discovers a copy of The Daily Worker, a communist newspaper from 1939 which raises his suspicions that there is a communist right there in his community. For this book, pair an image of the front page of The Daily Worker. Many students do not often have time to examine a current newspaper, much less one from nearly 80 years ago.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What text do you notice first?
  • What do you see other than news articles?
  • How is the text and other information arranged on the page?
  • What details indicate when this was published?
  • Who do you think was the audience for this publication?
  • What can you tell about the point of view of the people who produced this?
  • How would this be different if produced today? How would this be the same?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
The Daily Worker Newspaper: Orwell Diaries