Hey, friends, it’s me, Katie. How are you doing today? Ya know, I gotta seriously ask this question to anyone who pops in here, because it’s 2020, and we could all use a listening ear, yeah? Speaking of listening ears…
My History Playlist
I’m sitting here listening to a fun historical movie playlist my 7-year-old son and I made while doing my best to get used to my new glasses. Yeah, 2020 drove me to my very first pair of glasses. I’m 35 now, though, so it makes sense. My parents were about the same age when they first needed their pairs. Oh, what’s on the playlist, you ask? Okay, this particular playlist has got the likes of Hamilton, Newsies, The Greatest Showman, and Mary Poppins Returns. From songs like Trip a Little Light Fantastic to Guns and Ships, this music is a seriously fun and upbeat way to experience history.
History and Kids
Yes – this history playlist was my 7-year-old son’s idea, and my heart seriously swelled when he suggested making it. But oh what better way to introduce kids to history than through movies and shows like these! That my kids are as big of Hamilton nerds as I am and watch it with such sincere attention as their history nerd mama does just blows me away. Lin-Manuel Miranda has created a miracle. The words of President Obama, that Hamilton is, “the civics lesson our kids can’t get enough of” ring true. My two oldest kids, 12-year-old Ellie and 7-year-old Micah get overly excited when they hear any mention of Thomas Jefferson or George Washington and their attention instantly shifts. That at their ages they know bits of trivia like Jefferson was an ambassador to France during the Revolution and was the first U.S. Secretary of State? Well, golly. I bow to you, Mr. Miranda. Hamilton is a miracle indeed.
History and Me
When I was a kid I didn’t have the amazingness that was Hamilton, but I still had some pretty awesome ways to bring me to the love of history. Now, I am not kidding when I tell you this. It was actually a computer game that first sparked my love for history. Yep. Can you guess which one?
Ah, the one and only: Oregon Trail.
It’s true. I played the first edition on old Macintosh computers in elementary school. Then in middle school, I graduated to Oregon Trail 3 on a Gateway computer at home and got to “talk” to folks along the trail and learn their stories and make decisions based on what they “told” me. It threw me into the 1840s overland trail right in the middle of the cozy desk chair in my family’s basement in our suburban home in the late 1990s. I fished, went hunting and gathering, ferried across rivers, sunk in rivers, got bitten by snakes, and visited Chimney Rock and imagined I etched my name on it amongst other pioneers. (I also died of typhoid fever several times…)
So, in June 1999 when my mother gifted me a new book about the Oregon Trail, I devoured it. The book was in the Dear America series which was made up of several different fictional diaries by girls from different backgrounds all across American history. I wrote on the inside cover of the book, “WONDERFUL!” I was hooked and went on to read as many Dear America books as I could, learning as much about people’s experiences throughout American history through the power of story.
A Love for History
So, that’s how it often happens: a love for history often begins with a personal experience with it and with stories. It’s as simple as that. Many people fall into it through books, others through tales told to them by their grandparents, and others through movies or music. The power of the human experience in the past has an impact on our experience today, and we spend the rest of our lives connecting the two, working toward historical understanding and how it relates to our lives.
It really is a beautiful thing. I may have come to it through a computer game, but my love for history was cultivated by historical fiction books and my family’s stories. And as a historical fiction author and family historian still today, I cannot get enough of stories of the past.
So, tell me: how did YOU come to your love for history?
I’d like to invite you to dive into history with me. You and the whole family. I’m Katie, and as that historical fiction author, family historian, history nerd, I’d love to invite you to my community. Pop around, scroll down to check out my books (all of them history-based), and don’t forget to subscribe! You get a free short story (it’s, you guessed it, set in the past!) when you do, and you’ll be in the know about all the new books, workshops, and more. See ya in there!
P.S. Want to listen the amazingness that is our history playlist? Here ya go. Enjoy!