A project of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, OurStory is designed to help children and adults enjoy exploring history together through children’s literature, everyday objects, and hands-on activities.
The National Museum of American History and the National Center for Family Literacy are teaming up on OurStory projects. They are working together to help make reading historical fiction more fun and educational.
The OurStory programs are designed to:
- teach children about history through the use of objects, documents, oral histories, and quality children’s literature
- improve student attitudes about reading through exposure to quality children’s literature and the opportunity to own books
- Foster an environment in which participants of different generations and cultural backgrounds interact, share, learn from one another, and begin to see themselves as part of American history.
- Broaden participants’ understanding of the history of diverse communities and cultures within the United States.
You’ll find 20 different American history activity sets with recommended books, teaching materials, and engaging activities all focused around historical fiction. You can also find useful links to other history / literacy sites.
I get to spend the next two days hanging out with other history nerds at the National Council for History Education national conference in Kansas City. The theme this year is
Reading the Past: Literature and Literacy in History
I’ve always been a big believer in the power of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and really just about any sort of text to teach history and social studies. Textbooks are useful in their own way but we do our kids a disservice when we limit their contact with other forms of text.
The problem? It can sometimes be hard finding good fiction and non-fiction resources. So today two awesome places to go to find literature and trade books to use with your kids.
One of the best is the National Council for the Social Studies Notable Trade Books site. Every year, the NCSS selects a few hundred tradebooks, aligns them to their 10 social studies themes, provides a handy annotation, and shoots them out to use. You can download PDF versions of their selections from the last ten years. The books are almost all grades K-8.
The University of Delaware does something similar with their Children’s Literature with Social Studies Themes page. They have divided their books into four categories: History, Civics, Geography, and Economics. You’ll find hundreds of books broken down by grade level, K-6.