Wednesday, September 23, 2009
books based on primary and secondary research
Last night I was familiarizing myself with the grade seven social studies curriculum and reading about primary and secondary research and I thought what good examples the following books are of how writers may do this to create historical novels and how students can become familiar with primary research from autobiography.
I have read so many holocaust YA novels I have to admit I sometimes wonder if I can handle another one, but What World is Left by Monique Polak (Orca) I thought was excellent, one of the best. It also is a good example of how an author can use primary and secondary research.
The novelist made use of the memories of her mother who had been in Theresienstadt, the "model" concentration camp, as well as her own extensive research and imagination. This novel very much gives a sense of immediacy and also demonstrates that things just are not always black and white. Is Anneke's father a hero or a conspirator? How do you enable your family to survive in an impossible situation, what must you do and still be ethical?
In this vein, National Geographic has come out with an interesting series of the memories of real people in extraordinary circumstances. Alive in the Killing Fields is the real life story of the childhood of Kawuth Keat who with his family was captured by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Later he was able to escape and emigrate to the United States. This book came out of his telling his life story to a his World History teacher at night school, Martha E. Kendall, who co-authored this book.
Another book in this series is Lost Childhood by Annelex Hofstra Layson, who as young Dutch girl with her family was interned in a Japanese prison camp in Indonesia where they lived. This book was written after many years of not sharing her story with her husband or her own children due to the painfulness of her memories.
All these books show the resiliency of children I think and are an excellent source of understanding for our students. The books in the National Geographic series are aimed at students 12 and up. The books are realistic yet contain hope for a better world.