Using historical novels to teach kids history works well for kids who like to read. Unfortunately, not all kids do. Some are willing to be read to, and can be ‘got at’ that way, but what about the ones who resist all forms of printed matter that they do not actually have to read for school. Well, for them, you try HANDS-ON ACTION.
Almost all kids, be they readers or reluctant readers, like to role play and dress up, and most communities have some kind of society where this is encouraged. When the kids in our family were small, I belonged to our local branch of the SCA (Society For Creative Anachronism), which enabled them to don medieval garb and play medieval games, cross swords with each other, and even slay a giant or two as they interacted with other medieval enthusiasts.
A list of SCA groups can be found at http://sca.org/geography/findsca.html.
And if the Middle Ages aren’t your thing, try Ancient Rome.
To find Roman groups in North America Visit: http://www.romanempire.net/romepage/Links/roman_reenactment_groups.htm#United%20States%20Reenactment%20Units%20and%20Other%20Groups
In Australian try: http://www.livinghistory.com.au/Links/
New Zealand: http://www.spqr.co.nz/
And worldwide, check out: http://www.larp.com/legioxx/groups.html
UK dwellers can visit http://www.clash-of-steel.com/directory/links_reenact.php to find not just Medieval and Roman groups, but those devoted to Viking Times, the English Civil War, the Napoleonic era, the Victorian era, or the World War years as well.
Whatever time period you’re interested in, and want kids to be interested in, there’s sure to be some sort of group connected to it somewhere near you. If there isn’t – start one.
And remember, action-packed history doesn’t just appeal to kids with book aversions – book lovers are pretty keen, too!