-Nancie Atwell, Winner, Global Teacher Prize 2015
"Compelling writing makes this series a must."
So: THESE ARE BOOKS INTENDED TO TEACH READING AND CRITICAL THINKING as well as social studies. They are meant to inspire writing; Joy's informal style seems to do just that. Student writers are expected to research, write, and be themselves when they draw conclusions. That process is impossible without doing some thinking.
Joy Hakim's books use an ancient teaching method: STORYTELLING. Today it is known as narrative nonfiction.
THE VOICE OF AMERICA wanted to see how Joy's books work in classrooms. Here's a link to a story they sent worldwide showing children reading A History of US:
http://www.voanews.com/content/joy-hakim-finds-stories-in-us-history/3390875.html. A Texas teacher, using the books to teach reading to low achieving students, saw scores soar and was named a teacher of the year.
Cited by the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy as an exemplary informational text, A HISTORY OF US also received the first-ever James A. Michener Award for Writing by the National Council for the Social Studies, two Parents Choice Awards, and a bevy of other educational and library awards. The books are constantly updated to include current history.
Joy turned to science with her next books, The Story of Science, books published by the Smithsonian with coordinated "hands on" experiments and activities (from Johns Hopkins and NSTA's former president Juliana Texley). The series begins with stories from ancient Greece and ends with modern theories of the cosmos. The Story of Science won the 2008 Benjamin Franklin Award, the 2008 Selectors Choice CBC/NSTA's Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12, and a Best Science Book of the Year award (topping all categories) from U.S.A. Books. This is world history with a scientific backbone: appropriate for our time.
PBS aired a 16-part American history special, Freedom: A History of US, based on Joy’s work. Narrated by Katie Couric and featuring stars such as Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hanks, and a bevy of well-known celebrities, this TV series was designed with classroom use in mind. A companion book and teacher/student website were also created. For more information go to PBS.org/historyofus.
Joy's recent works are ebooks: Reading Science Stories and "Free To Believe (Or Not)," the STORY OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN AMERICA. It's a book that includes some surprises, it also attempts to teach children how to read original documents. A HISTORY OF US is also published in ebook format (text but no illustrations); THE STORY OF SCIENCE is in illustrated ebook format.
“I am thoroughly charmed by The Story of Science. The books read lightly and easily while conveying an imposing amount of information. When I was in high school, I used to wonder why the textbooks had to be so horrible. Why, I wondered, didn’t real writers write textbooks, so that we students could complete our reading assignments without wading through prose that resembled a federal budget analysis translated into Esperanto? Please accept my congratulations on this remarkable accomplishment.”
thought a moment, and asked me if I remembered George Washington.
Of course I do. There I am writing in colonial days.