By Jeff Mitchell, Digital Product Manager
For the past few years, Lerner Digital has helped the most reluctant of readers build key literary skills by offering ebooks with voice narration and sentence highlighting. This fall, we’ve expanded our award-winning Audisee® collection to include 865 ebooks with audio. Now it’s even easier to engage students with high quality stories on digital devices.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for this book? I’m curious what got you thinking specifically about the lives of kids long ago.
A: I’m an archaeologist, and I love finding evidence of children on sites I am digging. This inspired me to do more research about children in different time periods. I thought kids today would also be interested to learn about the lives of children in the past.
|Interior page from Children of the Past showing archaeologists at work and artifacts|
Q: The book covers a range of places and time periods from “cave kids” in Western Europe 20,000 years ago to Native Americans in North America 1,000 years ago to escaped slaves Fort Mose, Florida, 250 years ago. If you could travel back in time to just one of these time periods, which would you choose and why?
A: Tough question. I would love to go back to any of these to see what their lives were like. Historical Archaeology means using materials people in the past used and left behind to figure out what was going on then. It would be fun to see if our analysis of those artifacts is anywhere near on target.
Q: What was the most surprising thing you learned while researching this book?
A: I would have to say the information I found about how kids frequented the caves. Art historians have done most of the work studying these caves, with archaeologists following them. Many people think the caves were mostly used for religious ceremonies. But we now realize children played in these caves and in the back, they drew their own crude pictures. This is a whole new revelation to me.
|Interior spread from Children of the Past|
Q: Many American kids grow up today with multiple digital devices in their homes, access to on-demand TV and movies, and the world at their fingertips via the Internet. What do you think modern kids can learn from the lives of the children profiled in this book who grew up in very different circumstances?
A: I think kids are the same in all time periods. Kids today enjoy our kind of entertainments. Kids in the past enjoyed cave art, decorating pottery, making stone tools, and more. The main difference I found was that children in the past did activities as part of a family group. They contributed to the success of the family from a young age and must have felt much pride in their accomplishments. I tried to make this point in the book, and I hope kids today are struck by that.
Here’s a fun craft for kids: make a newspaper flowerpot in less than 5 minutes. The Nitty-Gritty Gardening Book author Kari Cornell put together this video tutorial to get kids gardening in no time:
If you’re in Minneapolis on Saturday, you can create newspaper flowerpots with Kari at the Fulton Farmers Market from 10:00 am to noon.
Pick up The Nitty-Gritty Gardening Book at your local library for more gardening crafts for kids!
Last month, Carolrhoda Books editor Amy Fitzgerald, wrote a teaser post about her upcoming trip to Book Expo America (BEA). If you haven’t yet read it, her to-do list at the end is worth a spare moment of your time.
In addition to consuming an absurd amount of leafy greens prior to her departure, Amy also mentioned practicing her Editors’ Buzz Panel speech about Auma’s Long Run, a debut novel by Eucabeth Odhiambo.
For those of you who may not know, the Middle Grade Book Editors’ Buzz Panel is a highly selective program highlighting five of the most highly anticipated middle grade books for 2017. Both the editor and the author are invited to speak about the process of writing and editing the book.
Both Amy and Eucabeth knocked it out of the park and I’ve got the iPhone footage to prove it.
Amy gets to the heart of what Auma’s Long Run is all about:
“As Americans we’re so used to stories that carry a ‘follow your dreams’ message. It’s not that simple for Auma; it isn’t that simple for many children in the US. Instead Auma’s path forward is to hang on to her dreams even when she has to put them on hold; to hang on to her dignity even when she has to make difficult compromises; to hang on to her faith in herself and in others even in the midst of this darkness nobody knows how to banish.”
Eucabeth shares why she chose to write for a middle grade audience:
“Auma asks a lot about culture and questions, ‘Why do I have to do that?’ . . . and I had the same questions. It came naturally that I was going back into myself.”
Auma’s Long Run pubs September 1, but you can enter our Goodreads contest now for a chance to win an advance reader’s copy. Digital review copies are also available for request on both NetGalley and Edelweiss.
And hey, if you read it and love it as much as we do, please consider nominating it for the Indie Next program and/or rating it on Goodreads. We’d love to know what you thought about it!