Friday, March 09, 2007

Engaging History

I love history. I'm not sure why but reading about how people lived and what motivated them has always been my passion. I always hoped that when I taught Social Studies, I could inspire my students to see the same. So it is always refreshing when someone writes a book to inspire children. John, Paul, George, and Ben by Lane Smith is just such a book.

Beatles fans will love the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) references to the Fab Four embedded in the book - with good old Tom (Jefferson) as the fifth lad who was "always off doing his OWN thing." History fans will love the history woven into the very entertaining character sketches of these founding fathers - although some liberties have been taken with the past. These liberties are nicely cleared up with the humorous "ye olde True or False section" in the back. And writing fans will love the voice and word choice provided in the book.

Each of the five lads are described with gripping adjectives and stories to support those descriptions: John is bold, Paul is noisy, George is honest (of course!), Ben is clever and Tom is independent. After describing each in their "youth," the book wraps up with how these character traits led to the men to historic actions.

The book is also organized in such a way that using it to help students with two-column notes would also work. You would have to take some time to separate the fact from fiction - but again, that goes towards the organization of the book and it serves as a nice mentor text for organization.

If you are looking to inject voice into the social studies classroom - this book is a hit. In addition to the stories, the illustrations and fonts used support this engaging tale. The book is written on parchment-like paper which lends a nice historical touch.

Overall - the book will entertain adults and students alike. It won't be your founding father's social studies class!!

1 comment:

NYC Teacher said...

I LOVE THIS BOOK. My kids loved it too! In fact, they read it to their little Reading Buddies whenever they come in. Nice to see that...