teachers' resources

10 Reasons Why History is Exciting (& a sneak peek inside the book!)

Tania McCartney, authorToday we have National Year of Reading Ambassador Tania McCartney visiting Soup Blog as part of her blog tour to celebrate her new book Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline.

You might know Tania as the author of the Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A Journey Around Melbourne (and her other Riley books!). In Australian Story she takes us on a trip into the past—from the explosive beginnings of our planet to modern day Australia.

Earlier today we posted a review of Australian Story. Now Tania is here to give us 10 reasons why history is exciting. Over to you, Tania!

Australian Story cover

One of my biggest aims in writing Australian Story was a far-flung idea that I wanted to make history ‘cool’ for school kids. Most kids would look at the subject of history and not in any way, shape or form, associate it with ‘cool’. I know I didn’t when I was a kid, so yes, my cool-seeking goal was certainly a big one.

I do, however, think that maybe—just maybe—I’ve succeeded.

Australian Story isn’t your typical history book. First of all, it’s mostly pictures—and we all know how much fun picture books are; even us big kids know that.

Secondly, it’s light on text—so it doesn’t bog you down with those boring facts and figures that go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on—almost as long as this sentence.

Thirdly. It’s exciting. That’s right. Its entries have been hand-selected, like the choicest cherries on the supermarket pile, and they are just the most delicious bites of action, fun, terror, invention, shock, sweet, sour, romance, achievement, winning, losing and yes yes yes—cool.

And now [DRUM ROLL!] Here is an exclusive sneak peek at two pages inside Australian Story!

A peek inside the pages of Australian Story by Tania McCartney (first sample)

A sneak peek inside the pages of Australian Story by Tania McCartney (sample 2)

Writing Australian Story, for me, made history not only cool but exciting. And here are 10 reasons why I think history is making a major comeback because it’s sooooo exciting.

1.     It tells the truth (well, as far as we know, anyway). And the truth is always stranger and more bizarre and more eye-opening than fiction.

2.     It’s oftentimes unbelievable. Did you know, for example, that in 1859, a farmer released 24 rabbits into the wild near Geelong, and these 24 rabbits became the fastest multiplying mammals in world history!? Unbelievable. But true.

3.     It reveals where we’ve been—but also where we’re going, and it’s always exciting to look towards the future and all the breathless possibility that lies ahead.

4.     It sheds light on how things came to be and how we have come to know them today. For example, the humble lamington may just be a chocolatey/coconuty cake to you, but where did it get its name? Why, it was named after Lord Lamington, the Governor of Queensland during the 1890s, of course! Don’t you know anything?

5.     It makes us realise how little we know about our country and how it formed. Knowing these things and being able to tell your friends or even better—your parents—all these really cool facts is a very exciting thing indeed, especially when it impresses them (and it will).

6.     It’s a snapshot of our achievements—and for such a small population, we have certainly achieved a lot, including the creation of both the bionic ear and artificial skin, offering the first round-the-world air service, and the claiming of almost half of Antarctica, excuse me.

7.     History allows us to learn from our past—and hopefully do even better, and make better choices. Looking back helps us understand what NOT to do. Well, that’s the hope, anyway. Understanding how people did things a long time ago—and comparing it with how we live now is kind of awesome (and certainly makes us appreciate where we are now!).

8.     It makes us feel. Whether it be laughter, shock, pride, anger, appreciation or even crying our eyes out (how embarrassment), when we hook up with history, we are guaranteed to feel a range of emotion —and that’s what good books are all about.

9.     It’s worth celebrating. No country has a perfect past, but we have much to celebrate and much to look forward to and work towards. We are quite possibly the finest example of successful multiculturalism in the world. And if that’s not cause for celebration, I don’t know what is.

10.  It’s entertaining, especially when done in a way that’s memorable and fun. Not many topics can both educate and entertain at the very same time, but history absolutely can. Now, that’s exciting. And, dare I say it—cool.

© Tania McCartney, 6 March 2012

Check out the other stops on the Australian Story Blog Tour!

Monday 5 March

Blog Tour Schedule and Book Giveaway

Kids Book Review


Book Launch Party Wrap-Up

Tania McCartney’s Blog


Book Giveaway

Alphabet Street


Tuesday 6 March

Book Review

Buzz Words


Australian Story Research Process



Book Review and 10 Reasons Why History is Exciting

Soup Blog [You’re here!]


Wednesday 7 March

Australian Story Teaching Notes for Key Stage I

Sheryl Gwyther’s Blog

Book Review and Teaching Notes Ideas for Key Stage II

The Book Chook


Book Review

Kids’ Book Capers


Image-Sourcing for Australian Story

Blue Dingo


Thursday 8 March

Book Review

Reading Upside Down


Book Review

Pass It On


Book Review

Bug in a Book


Friday 9 March

Book Giveaway



The Writing Process for Australian Story

Sally Murphy’s Blog


Book Review

Books for Little Hands


Book Review



Saturday 10 March

Book Review

Kids Book Review


Book Giveaway

Posie Patchwork Blog


Book Review

Suite 101


Sunday 11 March

Book Review

My Little Bookcase


Book Giveaway

Australian Women Online


Blog Tour Wrap-Up

Tania McCartney’s Blog


Book reviews by Rebecca

Book Review: Australian Story

Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline by Tania McCartney.

Published by National Library of Australia, ISBN 9780642277459.
(A review copy of this book was sent to us by the publisher.)

Australian Story cover

Follow Australia’s history on a timeline from Earth’s beginnings until 2010.

Every page of Australian Story is packed full of facts, dates and interesting bits of information—everything you ever wanted to know about Australia from long, long ago until today. Read this book and everyone will be begging you to join the quiz night team as the Expert on Australia. (Only agree if someone on the table brings lamingtons … )

The timeline is illustrated with artwork, photos and maps from the National Library of Australia. There are images of postage stamps, old magazine covers, Australian money (see what the $1 note looked like!), old posters, flags and an image of Captain Cook’s handwritten list of Indigenous words. And there’s lots more, too.

Do you know the answers to these questions?* (See if your mum and dad know.)

What is the name of the last volcano to erupt on the Australian mainland?

Who designed the Aboriginal flag?

What was the name of the first recorded European to land on Australian soil?

When was the first Melbourne Cup horse race held?

Who was Australia’s first Prime Minister?

Which Australian creature featured on the two-cent coin?

*You’ll find all the answers to these questions in Australian Story.

This is a book that we highly recommend for Aussies of all ages.

(You can WIN a copy of Australian Story. In fact, you have two chances. Chance 1: Head over to the Kids Book Review blog. Chance 2: Head over to the Alphabet Street site. Good luck!)

© March 2012 “Review of Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline by Tania McCartney” by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)