Doing History

Is history a noun or a verb? How a teacher answers this question can be seen in what goes on in his or her classroom.  If you want to develop the minds of youth who are capable of thinking critically about the relationship between the past and the present, then don’t teach history to students. Instead teach students to do history.  Read more

Book cover: Separate is Never Equal. Sylvia Mendez and her Family's Fight for Desegregation

Teaching School Desegregation through the Story of Sylvia Mendez

Picture books are powerful teaching tools, not just for elementary kids but for older readers as well. I have taught, read, and written about American history for decades, but it took a picture book to introduce me to the Mendez family and their fight for school integration.

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh explores a legal case I’d wager is not taught in many history classes. It should be. Read more

The Patriotic Blues

Patriotic Blues

I come from a family of eight kids. When we get together we sing, usually parodies aimed at one sibling or another. But when I was about nine years old, my sister Liz (2 years older) and I composed a song that stemmed from a deep love of country. In the true American tradition, we wrote a protest song. We have our parents to thank for that.

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Human Flesh–The Cure for What Ails You

Feeling a little under the weather? I’ve got just the thing. I’m currently writing four books in a series with very tight deadlines so I have not had time to post on my blog. However, I had to take a minute out to share this. The current book I’m writing is about grave robberies. In my research, I stumbled across this tasty tidbit (pun intended).

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Myth Buster: What Caused the Civil War?

More than 150 years after the Civil War, Americans don’t understand what caused this pivotal conflict. You can hear the ignorance in the debates we have about the Confederate flag and statues of Confederate generals.

In 2015, the Pew Research Center conducted a poll to explore Americans’ beliefs about the war. The results indicated that 48% of Americans believe the southern states seceded because of states’ rights and 38% of people believe the South seceded over slavery. So who’s right?

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The Taste of Shared Humanity

 

In an age of immigration bans and border walls, it’s easy to see the world through an “us versus them” lens. But sometimes all it takes is a fleeting incident to alter one’s world view. 

When I was seven and traveling through India with my family, a bag of taffy helped me recognize the place of privilege I hold as a white, middle-class American. But that candy also helped me feel a kinship to other children.  Here’s my tale of discovering the taste of shared humanity. Read more