Updated: Aug 20
It was way too late for me when I finally realized how much I loved history. It’d always been portrayed by my teachers with such lacklustre enthusiasm, picking out only the dullest and most mundane points that could no sooner draw me in than Tomi Lahren could say something she thought up herself.
My Dad had always told me stories from history… but the way he did it was so different, I couldn’t see the relationship between his stories and the “history” I learned at school. To me, they were two different subjects. One made my eyes glaze over and fantasize about how much more exciting it would be if I could chew on a lightbulb… the other was fun, exciting and something I looked forward to.
It wasn’t until after I failed History 12 the first time I took it, that I realized I actually loved the subject. I was so busy trying to memorize dates and names and places that I missed the stories and the ideas behind them. I sunk myself into a paper about Pearl Harbour and realized 3 things: 1. History was fucking interesting and I loved it 2. Some people know how to teach it (my dad) while others don’t (all my teachers, ever) and 3. Memorizing dates, names and places is not what history is about.
It was too late, though. I graduated with a C in history the second time I took it. It was the same teacher and the same ridiculous tests that required me to memorize names and dates. But, I quickly made up for it with sociology and anthropology and poli-sci in post-secondary and absorbed every book I could, and I still do.
When I had my son, I wanted him to understand the joy of history while he was still a kid. I knew there wouldn’t be a teacher who could do that for him because most teachers haven’t got a clue as to how to cultivate that. I knew it would be up to me. Like my dad did with me, I told him the most interesting stories from history I could, we watched movies about historical events and I’d generally been doing pretty well on my own before I discovered a book series that just drove my success rate with him through the roof.
The I Survived book series is for kids from grade 3 to grade 5- ish and each story is a fictionalized account of some disaster that happened in history. From the Pompeii eruption to Hurricane Katrina and everything in between. The first book I bought from this series was a compilation of four of these stories including one about the Titanic sinking, one about hurricane Katrina, one about Pearl Harbour and one about the shark attacks of 1916.
The stories are fictionalized and don’t include a whole lot of facts from the actual historical event, but they have just enough to whet my son’s appetite to learn more. Reading them starts a conversation, a path to continued learning. He often Googles the events afterward while we chat about their long-lasting effects on humanity.
The book series seems to be neverending, with new stories coming out still. I highly recommend any parents of elementary school-aged kids grab a bunch of them to get them thinking about just how interesting history can be.
Check them out: click here.
Have your kids read any of the I Survived series? Let me know in the comments!