Making History Fun Again: ‘If I Were a Kid’ Series from Scholastic

As someone with a history degree, I know all of the excuses in the book on why people don’t bother with learning history – it is boring, it is too complex, there’s no point to it, etc. etc. etc. But one thing I noticed working in my elementary school library is that kids are actually really interested in history. They enjoy learning about it and completing projects and libraries, but there are just no good tools and materials for history for students to really engage with.

I was in elementary school when those Dear America books first began to be published. We loved them. They were so cool – you were right there in the action and you learned a lot. Today, those books are still really popular. I’ve begun to encourage my students to check them out with a nonfiction pairing – a nonfiction book on the same subject. Oftentimes, though, they just don’t connect with the nonfiction material.

Then I came across this new history series from Scholastic, called ‘If I Were a Kid’. Here is the website description:

Life today is a lot different than it was in the past. Think of the things you have today. The clothes you wear. The kind of home you live in. The foods you eat. Many of these probably wouldn’t be the same if you were living in a different period of time. Through the stories of the If You Were a Kid series, readers are transported to some of the most important moments in U.S. history.
I am so excited for these! I haven’t seen any in person yet, but I’m imagining them to be in the same vein as the Dear America books, but more rooted in historical fact. What I especially like is that they are introducing students to history in a way that they can relate to. The books are presenting information in a more personal way.
So far, they only have four titles (which I’m really sad about). They are: If You Were a Kid During the American Revolution, If You Were a Kid During the Civil War, If You Were a Kid in the Thirteen Colonies, and If You Were a Kid on the Oregon Trail.
I’m really hoping that they extend this series and come out with more titles! I would love to see one written about the ancient civilizations, pilgrim voyages, world wars, etc.
I’ve put in a request to my district to include these books in our collection, so fingers crossed.
As a side not, if you’re students are interested in historical fiction, along with the Dear America books, I would suggest the I Survived series! My boys love it. 🙂

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