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Why should we teach our children history?

I loved history when I was in school and I still do.  I often subject to my family to historic movies especially those about the 17th and 18th century historic figures.  (Sometimes I think they even enjoy them *grin*.)   My husband says that he never really liked taking history in school until his high school history teacher really made it fun.  That is kind of what Stacia is getting at when she wrote to us about learning history...

Why should we teach our children history?
By Stacia Deutsch

Scholars say that teaching history to kids has many important benefits. History provides identity. Studying history improves our decision making and judgment. History shows us models of good and responsible citizenship.  History also teaches us how to learn from the mistakes of others. History helps us understand change and societal development.  History provides us a context from which to understand ourselves and others.
 
All good and valid reasons to teach history to our children.  History should be taught for all those things and more.
 
But how to study history? Well, that should simply be fun.
 
Rhody Cohon and I are friends and mothers of small children. For years, we have been reading books out loud to our kids and we both felt that there was something missing.  The stories were often entertaining, but they weren’t particularly instructive, and more than that, there weren’t positive moral decisions being made by the characters.  Often we’d complain, “I hope my kid never acts like that!”
 

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The time was just after 9/11, when we as a nation were turning inward and becoming increasingly introspective about who we are and what we stand for.  Rhody and I weren’t professional writers, but we dreamed about creating a book series that taught kids about important people and moments in American history.
  
We wanted to create a series where the reader would actually live though a historic event, through the eyes of character with whom they could relate.
 
We wanted the books to teach values like perseverance and determination. And for the kids in the stories to act age appropriate with decent manners.
 
When we finally put our ideas on paper, the BLAST TO THE PASTcraft series of books became a reality.
 
BLAST TO THE PAST is about four third grade students who time-travel.  In the first book, LINCOLN’S LEGACY, the kids meet Abraham Lincoln. The twist is that the students arrive at a point in the past just as Abraham Lincoln has decided to give up his dream of freeing the slaves and has quit the presidency.  It is then the students’ task to convince our President Lincoln of the immeasurable value his work will mean to future generations.  Following this format, two other books are now available, DISNEY’S DREAM and BELL’S BREAKTHROUGH with more BLAST books coming out every few months.
 
How history is learned should be determined by each parent and teacher. There are many great books, movies, and websites waiting for discovery. Great speakers and scholars hoping for an invitation to share what they know. Older generations of loved ones who’d love to tell their personal stories. Museums to visit.  The list goes on.  Books like BLAST TO THE PAST books are just the beginning. They are simply a starting point for discussions. And further research.
 
No matter how they learn, Rhody and I hope that this generation of kids will first and foremost have fun learning history, because when that happens they will want to learn more. Then, all those benefits that the scholars tell us about will come to pass: Our children will learn about who they are.  Be guided in their decisions. And understand the world in a meaningful context.
 
Stacia Deutsch was ordained a rabbi at the Hebrew Union College in 1995. She worked as a rabbi for seven years before she decided to write fiction full time. She is the co-author of the BLAST TO THE PAST series of children’s chapter books and is currently ghost writing for NANCY DREW AND THE CLUE CREW as well. She lives in Irvine, CA with her husband and three young children. Visit her website at www.blasttothepastbooks.com.

 


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