Book Review: Reading Like a Historian

Reading Like a Historian Book Review

Reading Like a Historian Book Review

If you’re looking for a resource with fresh ideas on how to implement common core standards in Social Studies, look no further than the book, Reading Like a Historian by Teachers College Press.  I recently received a copy for free at a Social Studies network meeting and have been really impressed with the seamless way the lessons in the book incorporate inquiry-based, student-directed learning with the use of primary and secondary sources.

Most lessons ask an intriguing essential question that is designed to reel students in. A few examples include: “Did Pocahontas Rescue John Smith?”, “Was Lincoln a Racist?”, “Standing Tall or Fleeing the Scene?” Each lesson also includes all of the necessary primary sources and resources along with a list of targeted skills that correlate with common core standards.  The book is geared toward middle school and high school with topics ranging from Pocahontas and Columbus Day to Rosa Parks and the Cuban Missile Crisis.  There are 8 total lessons.

One of my favorite features of these lessons is the way they provide several different “scenarios” that describe different ways to use the resources.  One scenario might be a one hour lesson that uses the documents to introduce a topic, another scenario might be a 2-4 hour lesson that uses the documents to delve deeper into the content.  There is a lot of flexibility to fit your schedule!

My only critique of this book is the fact that the topics are so vastly spread out.  I have no use for the lesson over the Cuban Missile Crisis, in my 8th grade U.S. History class. (Sadly, our content only goes through the end of the Civil War.  Heck, since it starts at the beginning of all time, you’d think they could go ahead and tack on another couple of hundred years!  What’s it going to hurt?!)  It would have been nice to be able to purchase a book with lessons from just the American Revolution era or just the Civil War era.  They could definitely sell more books that way!

Reading Like a Historian is just one of many new books targeting literacy strategies in the Social Studies classroom.  Feel free to comment with more resource suggestions for me to check out!  As the C3 Framework continues to guide standards development in each state, we’ll be needing more quality resources like this one!

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