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.

2 comments:

Mohamed Taher said...

Good job. Literacy at early stage, is common. But, late literacy, so much needed today, isn't clear to many, and its significance not even felt by many--the latest stats in Canada reveal this and you are doing the real good service in this direction.

Re: primary and secondary research. You have a very interesting way of presenting the perspective on a primary source. I know you are familiar, but your audience who come here looking for the term 'primary sources' or 'primary research' need a little clue about the background.

Diaries, are one form of primary resource for any research or study. We Librarians classify diaries and such original info as primary source. When people digest this info and create a summary / interpretation it becomes secondary, and a digest of digests become tertiary or (depending on the levels of input) quaternary.

Isn't it funny that (information professionals, esp.) librarians have time, patience, motivation, and skills to name the process, at each stage: be it input, thruput or output. No kidding. Taxonomies, metadata, tags and the keywords are a big world today, but many don't know that librarians are trained both in school and in work to identify and standardize names, themes and so on.
Best wishes.

meredyth kezar said...

Thank you for the clarification! As a teacher my greatest hope is that my students will begin to want to do primary and secondary research with enthusiasm. And thank goodness for librarians! Take care!