Helping kids enjoy history

Mortuary temple You'll agree it's not every 6-year-old who can recognize Hatshepsut as the ancient Egyptian queen who pretended to be a boy (not particularly successfully, but still) so she could rule her kingdom.

I have one who does. My husband was watching the old Mummy movie, the black-and-white one with Boris Karloff (he's on a classics binge, and so are they, like it or not). The movie opens with an archeology scene and her mortuary temple  is shown. That's when middle daughter erupted (most gleefully) with her knowledge.

Do I sound like I'm boasting? I'm not, although I'll admit her eruption caused a certain amount of fist-pumping on my part. But most of the credit goes to Susan Wise Bauer and her thoroughly excellent Story Of The World, which is the primary tool I used over the last year to cover the period of history that goes from the first humans to the fall of Rome. That's the first of four volumes she wrote, dividing world history into chronological eras. I've also used other books but that one was the basis of my world history teaching.

And it worked. They're not accomplished ancient historians just yet. The book is a survey for children (and their parents; I don't mind telling you I learned at least as much as the kids did reading this book to them), not an academic treatise, so it doesn't cover every single thing. But it does a fine job of giving a very good overview in a style that's breezy, child-friendly (without ever being condescending or babyish), and most importantly, NOT BORING. Exactly unlike the history books they used to teach us back in the day, which explains in great part my current status as expert historical ignoramus.

So there. Now both the kids and I know who Hatshepsut was (roughly), and are able to recognize her mortuary temple. That'll make those old black-and-white movies fly by...

Today's everyday poetry: the sun was red, the slug was dead

And sure enough, the caterpillar was in a hurry