This year a change happened in our study of history without me even realizing it. Grace and I were talking about reading and what I could do to encourage her to do more of it. I know she enjoys historical fiction best. I asked her if she could read whatever she wanted, and have it count as a lesson, what would it be? She ran upstairs into the attic where we store our books and returned with several of the Dear America books that she has wanted to read for some time.
Dear America. Historical Fiction. US History. 8th Grade. The pieces just fell into place in my mind but I kept my thoughts to myself. I asked if she would like to read to me while I knit. Grace does not like to sit still for very long and because of this reading has always been a challenge. She likes to read before bed and I always fall asleep trying to listen. But during the day? I am all ears. She began reading So Far From Home: The Diary of Mary Driscoll, An Irish Mill Girl, Lowell, Massachusetts, 1847. My mother’s family is of Irish descent and is from Lowell. I know these mills but I don’t know if any of my relatives worked in them.
I ordered a DVD, Out of Ireland: The Story of Irish Emigration to America off of Amazon to provide us more information about what life was like in Ireland and how life was drastically different in America. While at Barnes & Noble, I picked up a copy of Howard Zinn’s A Young People’s History of the United States to supplement her reading. It contains information on the Irish, the famine and the hardships they encountered here. I also planned a visit to Quinnipiac University’s new museum dedicated to the Irish Potato Famine. Hopefully a visit to Lowell and a tour of the mills will take place in October.
We are building a course from the ground up. I keep checking off hours in our binder and write down what we are doing. Grace’s goal is to read a book for every state. All this was for Massachusetts, and one small part of Massachusetts’ history. As we continue with other books the learning will intertwine and overlap, just like it does in our Book of Centuries. The learning that has unfolded from one Dear America book has been rich and rewarding and deep. It is led by Grace’s interest and put together by her research assistant/mother/teacher.
Her next book selection is My Face To The Wind, The Diary of Sarah Jane Price, A Prairie Teacher: Broken Bow, Nebraska 1881