By Travis Lollar, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For years, Tennessee history buff Bill Carey has been concerned about the lack of state history in the schools. Now he is seizing what he thinks is the best opportunity in decades to reverse that trend.
Carey is taking advantage of the state’s adoption of the Common Core standards that require English and reading teachers to make use of more nonfiction.
His nonprofit, Tennessee History for Kids, has created two booklets for use in those classes. One is for elementary and middle school children and is composed mostly of historical essays written by Carey with titles like “David Crockett loses his pants.”
“That’s the first one my kids wanted to read,” said Teresa Calhoun, who recently purchased a set of the booklets for her classroom. The fourth grade teacher at Indian Springs Elementary School in Kingsport said the booklets use stories to tell history.
“That makes it fun and interesting,” she said. It’s not like a regular textbook.”
n the booklet for high school students, 13 of the 16 essays come from primary sources. So “A trip for some powder” is written by David Crockett himself, excerpted from his autobiography.
Carey said many English and reading teachers use fiction only, so are at a loss when it comes to finding good nonfiction texts. The history booklets sell for only $2 each, so Carey said a school can purchase enough for an entire class for about the cost of a single hardback textbook.
Carey helped found Tennessee History for Kids in 2004 after learning that most public schools no longer provided state history textbooks. He says state history is still taught, but it is divided up so that portions are taught in six different grades.
In addition to the booklets, the nonprofit has a website with resources for teachers that include videos where Carey plays the character “History Bill.”
This has brought him a certain amount of fame in some classrooms.
“Kids want me to autograph these little booklets,” he said. “They love it.”