Uncle Jed's Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell, illustrated by James Ransome
I discovered this book a few years ago, when we read through American history in picture books for First Son's kindergarten year. I checked it out again as I was planning our financial history course for next year as it's a wonderful example of working and saving toward a business goal.
Uncle Jed is a traveling barber, serving the black community at a time of sharecropping and segregation. He is always saving his earnings to invest in a barbershop of his own. He sacrifices savings for his family. He suffers a total loss in the Great Depression. Yet he perseveres. It's a beautiful story, lovingly illustrated.
As with all great picture books, it introduces us to a range of issues like race relations, discrimination, family, sacrifice, dedication and perseverance, all seemingly without effort. They are simply part of the story. As a real tale based on the life of the author's great-uncle, it appeals especially to my kids who love to hear about real people.