By Hans Christian Anderson
Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Published by Phyllis Fogelman Books, 1999
Amidst the hustle and bustle of an early American city, the little match girl sets out to sell flowers and matches. It is bitterly cold, and no one is buying. She is afraid to go home with no money because she knows she will be beaten, so she stays outside, with no shoes and spare clothing. Finally, she can take the cold no longer, and lights one of the precious matches. In the light of each match she strikes, she sees images of beauty: a banquet table laden with delicious foods; her grandmother’s face. Finally, she lights all of the matches at once, and in the image, her grand mother takes her away. In the morning, the little girl is found, frozen to death, still holding the fist of spent matches. People feel sorry for her, never knowing the beautiful things she saw right before she died.
This is a bit of a heavy story, but it may work with 1st and 2nd graders. This would also be a great book for middle and high schoolers, especially because of the historical context, issues such as poverty and child abuse, child workers, and even death.
Accessed: Augusta County Library