Thursday, November 18, 2010

Learning Through Story/The Washington Post

In a recent thought-provoking Washington Post article, journalist and author Joy Hakim wrote the following: “As they [education historians] document the tale, it was decades ago that we gave up teaching history as an idea-centered discipline played out by a succession of characters—heroes and villains—whose actions led to results that can be analyzed. That kind of story-based history is engaging. We replaced it with litanies of facts.”

She was talking about the state of textbooks, as well as the lack of integration of standard curriculum with the stories of science and social studies that, without, leave gaping holes in education. That’s where we nonfiction writers today come in.

As depressing and infuriating as much of Hakim’s article was to me, I also felt myself saying “but we do that—those stories are being written!” And so, with the intention of offering a tiny bit of assistance to all those who teach and/or otherwise influence the education of young minds, I decided to begin compiling a recommended reading list of stories for older readers—true stories; i.e., nonfiction (or veritas, truthiness or True Dat!)—that will surely supplement and complement and enhance the experience of anyone taking social studies and science classes using textbooks.

Please—I mean this—please, add to this beginning of a list. Let’s make it grow. I will incorporate your comments and update the list accordingly. Next time, I’ll make a picture book list!

History and Science Through Story:

Armstrong, Jennifer. The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History

Aronson, Marc and Budhos, Marina. Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science

Aronson, Marc. Witch-Hunt: Mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials

Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. Hitler Youth: Growing up in Hitler’s Shadow

Burns, Loree Griffin. Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion

Cobb, Vicki. What's the Big Idea?: Amazing Science Questions for the Curious Kid.

Colman, Penny. Where the Action Was: Women War Correspondents in World War II

Deem, James. Bodies from the Ice: Melting Glaciers and Rediscovery of the Past

Delano, Marfe Ferguson. Earth in the Hot Seat: Bulletins from a Warming World

Freedman, Russell. Who Was First?: Discovering the Americas

Giblin, James Cross. The Many Rides of Paul Revere

Hakim, Joy. The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way

Harness, Cheryl. The Ground-Breaking, Chance-Taking Life of George Washington Carver and Science and Invention in America

Heiligman, Deborah. Charles & Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith

Hoose, Phillip. Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

Jackson, Ellen and Bishop Nic. Mysterious Universe: Supernovae, Dark Energy and Black Holes

Jackson, Donna M. The Wildlife Detectives: How Forensic Scientists Fight Crimes Against Nature

Murphy, Jim. An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793

Nelson, Kadir. We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball

Partridge, Elizabeth. Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don’t You Grow Weary

Sis, Peter. The Wall: Growing up Behind the Iron Curtain

Stone, Tanya Lee. Almost Astronauts: Thirteen Women Who Dared to Dream

Thimmesh, Catherine. Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 On the Moon

Walker, Sally. Written In Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland

Weatherford, Carole Boston. Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom


Unknown said...

Please add my biography of Marie Curie that tells the story of how chemistry and physics came together at the turn of the last century and culminated in the Bohr atom--the must useful concept for explaining many chemical and physical phenomena.

Also, my new book What's the BIG Idea? that integrates history into the main ideas of motion, energy, matter and life.

Angela said...

Great list! Thank you for responding to the article!

Cheryl Harness said...

And, pretty please, add these titles of mine from the Nat'l Geo: The Groundbreaking, Chance-Taking Life of George Washington Carver and Science & Invention in America

The Remarkable Benjamin Franklin... an Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children, 2006

Tanya Lee Stone said...

For single authors, I decided to choose one book per author, simply to keep the list from getting too unwieldy. So for now I'll add one from each suggested author here, but I'll add the additional titles to a longer list I'll keep compiling off-blog and will put on my website at a later date. How's that?

Unknown said...

How about Nettie's Trip South
by Ann Turner...

Jeri said...

Please add all my eleven (so far) biographies! They're bios of American heroes, many little-known, and all are great additions to current history lessons. ... Okay, okay, I see you can only use one from each of us, so please add ARCTIC EXPLORER (biography of Matthew Henson, co-discoverer of the North Pole).
Thanks for a great article!
Jeri Chase Ferris
award-winning multicultural biographies

C. Cackley said...

Please add the collection We Were There Too! by Phillip Hoose. I read sections of this every year to my students and it really helps them understand how important events affected kids their own age.

Unknown said...

Thank you for putting together this list (and I'm honored to be a part of it). Now we need to share this list with as many other bloggers as possible. Social studies teachers will need a great deal of guidance if they're going to successfully use narrative nonfiction in the classroom and this list is a good first step in that direction.

Wendie O said...

All Great suggestions.
If you don't mind an older book (2002), could you please consider adding my book: To Fly, the Story of the Wright Brothers ?
- Wendie Old

Marfe Ferguson Delano said...

I'm also honored to have one of my books on this list, Tonya. I recommend adding "When Fish Got Feet, Sharks Got Teeth, and Bugs Began to Swarm: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life Long Before Dinosaurs," a lively look at evolution by Hannah Bonner (2007). Here's an excerpt about the development of jaws in fish: "Jaws turned out to be a most versatile tool. They allowed fish to say good-bye to a monotonous diet of teensy stuff. Now fish could grab, slice, and dice to their heart's content. They could even eat one another, and they did so with great gusto."

Ruth in NC said...

Truly one of the best benefits of homeschooling is the ability to use what are commonly called "living books" for science and history. That's why I follow this blog where some of our favorite authors write about their own and other's books.

It's a great list and yet so incomplete as any such list must be.

Tanya Lee Stone said...

Hi everyone. Don't share the list just yet. I am going to add to it and then I am happy to share it with anyone who likes. I'm also starting a separate list for picture books. Thanks for the suggestions!

Susan E. Goodman said...

I'm a little late on this one, sorry. But for my books, I might recommend See How They Run: Campaign Dreams, Election Schemes, and the Race to the White House and the Ultimate Field Trip series. I also like Team Moon by Catherine Thimmesh and Tony Robinson's The Worst Children's Jobs in History is really fun.

dat Cajun woman said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful list...and amazing blog! I am a 1st year 7th grade science teacher in a high-poverty inner-city school in St. Louis.

I am a strong supporter of content-area reading, and believe that my students can get a much deeper understanding of the content through reading than they can from textbooks and lectures. This list is an awesome resource for me as I attempt to build an informative, interesting, and inexpensive classroom library.