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!
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!
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
Tuesday 6 March
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
Kids’ Book Capers
Image-Sourcing for Australian Story
Thursday 8 March
Reading Upside Down
Pass It On
Bug in a Book
Friday 9 March
The Writing Process for Australian Story
Sally Murphy’s Blog
Books for Little Hands
Saturday 10 March
Kids Book Review
Posie Patchwork Blog
Sunday 11 March
My Little Bookcase
Australian Women Online
Blog Tour Wrap-Up
Tania McCartney’s Blog