66 pages 2 hours read

Horatio Alger

Ragged Dick

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1868

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Teacher Introduction

Ragged Dick

  • Genre: Juvenile Fiction; Coming-of-Age
  • Originally Published: 1868
  • Reading Level/Interest: Lexile HL660L; Young Adult and Adult
  • Structure/Length: Novel divided into chapters; approximately 120 pages; audiobook length approximately 5 hours and 9 minutes.
  • Protagonist/Central Conflict: Ragged Dick is a classic novel by Horatio Alger that tells the story of Richard "Dick" Hunter, a poor and unhoused bootblack (shoe-shiner) in New York City during the mid-19th century. The central conflict revolves around Dick's struggle to escape poverty and improve his life through hard work, determination, and moral character. Through a series of encounters and opportunities, Dick aspires to rise above his humble circumstances and achieve success in the city. The novel explores themes of social mobility, self-improvement, and the American Dream, and it is often considered a prime example of the "rags to riches" genre in American literature.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Themes of poverty, homelessness, social mobility, and lack of empathy for children’s housing and food insecurity

Horatio Alger, Author

  • Bio: Born 1832, deceased 1899; American author known for his prolific output of juvenile fiction and novels for young readers; Alger is celebrated for his stories of young protagonists overcoming adversity and achieving success through moral virtue and hard work.
  • Other Works: Luck and Pluck series, including titles like Luck and Pluck (1869) and Sink or Swim (1870); Horatio Alger's novels often follow a formula of young characters rising from humble backgrounds to achieve success.