Monday, July 06, 2009

History in the News

It's no great secret (or, at least, I've not tried to make it one!) that I love history. I love learning about it. I love seeing how it affects the present day. I enjoy thinking about the implications of things - good or bad - as weird as that may sound. I don't agree with everyone's decisions and I definitely have my own opinions on present day politics because I can see that the decisions we make now will affect the future. How do I know this? Because the decisions that peoples and governments have made in the past are affecting us! The whole 'actions have consequences' statement? Yeah, well, it's true - both politically and personally as well. The choices that you make and the decisions that you face and grapple with will have a direct impact on your children's lives and on future generations of your family. History is therefore fascinating. Everything matters. Everyone counts.

I was delighted to see this series which has just recently been re-released by Candlewick Press in which they take a look at ancient civilizations in light of the modern day newspaper format.

For example, in The Roman News the front cover headline news is "Caesar Stabbed! Rome in Turmoil after Brutal Murder." Other headlines read "Empire or Republic?" "Colosseum Opens" and "Into the Arena" As you flip through the book you will read articles on Rome itself - including a visitor's guide. There are reports of pirate attacks and a discussion of tradesman who traveled through ancient Rome. There are also ads scattered throughout the "newspaper", such that you might see in a modern publication. The ads read: "Portus at a Price: Wharehouses for Rent" and some have fancy slogans such as, "Take Your Daily Dip at Caracalla's! (and relax in the glorious warmth of our heated rooms and pools)." Very clever. There are articles about weddings back in Ancient Rome, ads requesting women slaves with an accompanying article about women's work back in the day, and the list goes on and on.

If I were looking for a way to interest my kids in history at an early age, I might be inclined to go this route. (As a home schooling mother, I might also plan on having them create their own newspaper publication laying out the facts in a creative manner!) It's incredibly creative and I don't think that there is anything else out there quite like it.

My particular favorite title in this series is The Egyptian News. I've always been fascinated by the Ancient Egyptian culture. The pyramids and embalming are just too mysterious. The headline article in this book is: "EXCLUSIVE: Boy King Murdered?" Turn the pages of this "newspaper" and you'll learn how about how the whole kingdom was united under a young prince called Mentuhotep who gained control of both upper and lower Egypt in 2040 B.C. A second article talks more about why the land was divided up and there is a discussion of battles. For those curious there is a feature article interviewing "The Mummy Maker." He's quite blunt in describing how he keeps dead bodies from rotting and what happens to mummified bodies. (Well, I was curious anyway!) One particular ad in this paper is for "The Game of Pharaoh's" which apparently was called Senet. You can "buy" said game from Games Galore in the Marketplace. Cute.

Lastly (not timeline wise) there is The Greek News. The WORLD EXCLUSIVE headline for this one is that Alexander has been victorious. There are articles on death by poison, the slave trade, how the Greeks worked to please their gods, and on education concerns. And all of this news you can get for only 6 Obolus!

Really, these books are quite clever.

I'm still thinking through how I wish to introduce my own children to the past. I want it to feel relevant because it IS relevant, not just because I happen to like it. For me, history is not a dead subject. On the contrary, it is very much ALIVE. I think these books are designed in such as to help children identify with past cultures in light of their own personal cultures. Kudos to Candlewick for creating and providing such great resources for parents - and teachers - to use with this new generation of thinkers, planners, dreamers and DOers.

Other History in the News books by Candlewick Press: Explorers News, Revolution News, and The Aztec News.


Ronnica said...

Those look like fun ways to intro/supliment the topic. So many people see history as boring. I don't see how they can think that...history is basically just story hour, complete with moral. Who doesn't like reading/hearing stories about people?

ibeeeg said...

I think teaching history in a way that makes it come alive is far better than straight from textbooks.
I really love the utilization of novels (specific to time being studied) for children to read.
History in News sounds like a great way to make history come alive. I see these work great right along with novel reading.

Susan Wise Bauer has a series out called The Story of the World which are fabulous.

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