Smithsonian Asks How to Spark Interest in Kids for American History

How Much U.S. History Do Americans Actually Know? Less Than You Think. The Smithsonian interviewed David Bruce Smith, founder of the Grateful American Foundation, about ways to fix this problem.

SMITHSONIAN: You started the Grateful American Foundation in 2014 and the Grateful American Book Prize in 2015. What was your inspiration for these and what do you hope to achieve through the projects? 

David Bruce Smith:The Grateful American Book Prize for authors of kid-friendly books based on factual events and people in American history was created partially because I was becoming more aware of the multi-generational historical illiteracy in our country.  The prize, and our Grateful American Foundation, also honors my father. He always referred to himself as a “Grateful American.” We are a fortunate family, and because of that, he felt very strongly about “giving back.” During the last 20 years of his life, he devoted himself to education, and nothing excited him more than to see a child excited about learning—particularly history.

So, I have taken his sentiment and converted it to a noun. Hopefully, the prize and the foundation will move kids—and adults—to become more enthusiastic about it via videos, games, and interactive activities.

Read the entire interview.

Smithsonian Asks How to Spark Interest in Kids for American History

Let’s Talk Live: David Bruce Smith and Historian Allida Black on Lincoln

News Channel 8’s Let’s Talk Live reporter Sonya Gavankar talks with Grateful American™ Foundation founder David Bruce Smith and historian Allida Black, a Research Professor of History and International Affairs at the George Washington University, about would have happened if Abraham Lincoln had not been assassinated.

For more information visit David Bruce Smith’s Grateful American™ Foundation.

David Bruce Smith On the Inaugural Year of the Grateful American™ Book Prize

David Bruce Smith, the co-founder and a judge of the Grateful American™ Book Prize, elaborates on the inaugural year of the Book Prize in a recent interview.

“The purpose is to recognize the single best children’s book in the genres of historical fiction/non-fiction that is written for the 7th-9th grade levels. Interestingly this is the only prize of its kind at the moment. Usually, prizes such as this weigh only the quality of the prose, and ignore the illustrations. This prize will consider both–if possible. That ideal “marriage” will depend on the submissions, because I have discovered older fiction has less or no illustrations. There will only be one winner.”

Read the entire interview with Smith to learn more about the Grateful American™ Book Prize.

David Bruce Smith On the Inaugural Year of the Grateful American™ Book Prize

David Bruce Smith Discusses the Grateful American Book Prize

BookMarketingBuzzBloga unique blog dedicated to covering the worlds of book publishing and the news media — interviews David Bruce Smith about the inaugural year of the Grateful American™ Book Prize and more.

What is the Grateful American Book Prize and why did you create it?  This is the inaugural year of The Grateful American Book Prize. The purpose is to recognize the single best children’s book in the genres of historical fiction/non-fiction that is written for the 7th-9th grade levels. Interestingly this is the only prize of its kind at the moment. Usually, prizes such as this weigh only the quality of the prose, and ignore the illustrations. This prize will consider both–if possible. That ideal “marriage” will depend on the submissions, because I have discovered older fiction has less or no illustrations. There will only be one winner.

What books need to be published about history that haven’t already been written?  I can’t really think of something in history that hasn’t been written. The important thing for kids is to make it INTERESTING. History is really about telling stories, but too often the way in which it is presented is boring.

What are some books you would recommend for 14-year-olds so that they come to appreciate history?  Recommendations: Esther Forbes’s, Johnny Tremain; Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind, The Diary of Anne Frank; Stephen Crane’s, The Red Badge of Courage. I would also put in Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn; most people don’t recognize it as “historical fiction”, but it is.

Are you surprised at how little adults know about history?  I am not surprised how little adults know about history. This problem we have is multi-generational. Unfortunately, financial resources for education have been on the decline; teachers are often unqualified or uninterested in history–but told they must teach it–and big business has not absorbed the deficiencies–nor recognized that today’s students are their future employees. Better to have informed workplace than not. The American Revolution Center which is building a museum in Philadelphia, totally dedicated to the Revolution did a 2011 survey about historical “literacy.” The results were, for example: 89% of the respondents said the Civil War occurred before the Revolutionary War. That in part prompted me to start the Grateful American Series (videos, newsletter) and the Grateful American Prize.

What challenges do you find yourself overcoming in order to get applicants for the prize?  We have not had any problems in getting applicants. So far, the response has been enthusiastic, which tells me lots of people are interested, but getting people informed historically will take time, and a lot of people. I love books because they allow you to “escape” into another time and place. When I was a little boy, my grandfather used to encourage me to read books about great people. He felt learning about the Franklin’s, Lincoln’s, Jefferson’s and Washington’s of the world would provide me with wisdom that–maybe–I could “call up”. It was good advice.

What do you love about books?  What advice do you have for writers of history books?  History writers must create–or recreate stories that are fun, readable, and imaginative. And…if there illustrations, sloppy pen and ink renderings or clip art is unacceptable. Illustrations tell the story–if they’re for very young kids, and they guide the narrative if they’re for older one. The prose and the art should be of the highest quality, and they should have a symbiotic relationship

 

David Bruce Smith Discusses the Grateful American Book Prize

June 2015 Book Recommendations

AUGUST by Judith Rossner
A patient’s relationship with her analyst.

MUSIC FOR CHAMELEONS by Truman Capote
Intelligently observed short fiction and non-fiction; first published in 1980.

SOMEONE LIKE YOU by Roald Dahl
Short stories about murder and fantasy by the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda.

SOCIETY’S CHILD by Janis Ian
The singer/song writer, known mostly for “At Seventeen,” tells her story.

SILENT SPRING by Rachel Carson
This polemic novel put an end to the use of DDT.

 

June 2015 Book Recommendations

NYHS President Supports Historical Literacy to Teach U.S. History

In a Huff Post Education article New-York Historical Society President Louise Mirrer contemplates, “… why do our young people suffer from a history deficit? And what can we do about it?”

As a leader in historical education she ponders how to get young people interested in U.S. History. “One way that we could help get students hooked on history today is to put historical novels into their hands — ones that are both entertaining and faithful to the experience of the past.” She cites the Grateful American Book Prize as A Novel Solution to America’s ‘History Deficit’.

Read the article.

NYHS President Supports Historical Literacy to Teach U.S. History

Smilow Furniture Shows Up In Designer’s Feeds

Spotted in #atouchofstyle by @casamota @assouline #chezSom from @elledecor #interiors #nyc #home

A photo posted by Peter Som (@petersom) on

Saturday morning #homesweethome #coffee on the couch #magazines to read #weekend #bliss #nyc #ilovenyc

A photo posted by Peter Som (@petersom) on

 

 

Vegas in June

See us with The Smithereens & The Motels on June 13 at Fremont Street Experience as part of the Rock of Vegas free summer concert series.

  • Jun 13: Rock of Vegas, Fremont Street Experience, Las Vegas, NV