A HISTORY OF US is a new kind of American history, informed by some of this nation's top historians. It is an upbeat positive history--which seems appropriate for an audience being introduced to the subject--it also addresses the racial dilemma that has haunted American history. AND IT INCLUDES SOME NEW HEROES: people from our history who got that racial issue right. But its main purpose is to make reading exciting and thus to help IMPROVE READING SCORES. Cited by the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy as an exemplary 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 literary awards. The books are constantly updated and current.
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:
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 Texas Teacher of the Year.
Joy's next books, The Story of Science, were 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.
Freedom: A History of Us was written to accompany a 16-part PBS television series Freedom: A History of Us. The TV series is available on DVDs from PBS. The book works especially well in high school or freshman college history classes. Freedom: A History of US is narrated by Katie Couric with Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hanks, and a bevy of well-known celebrities, this TV series was designed with classroom use in mind. Here's a link to the PBS teacher/student website: go to PBS.org/historyofus. The book is available from Social Studies School Services.
Joy's recent works are ebooks: Reading Science Stories
and "Free To Believe (Or Not),"
the STORY OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN AMERICA. That book includes some surprises, it also attempts to teach children how to read original documents. Do you know of the Flushing Remonstrance? Read about it here.
A HISTORY OF US is also published in ebook format (text but no illustrations); THE STORY OF SCIENCE is in beautifully illustrated ebook format and is also translated into Korean and Chinese.
Teaching materials to accompany A History of US
are available from
Oxford University Press, as well as from the teacher/educator CSOS team at Johns Hopkins University (on Amazon). That team has also done imaginative learning books to go with The Story of Science. NSTA's president, Juliana Texley has done an amazing teaching resource to accompany "Einstein Adds A New Dimension."
NSTA has made teaching materials available on their website.
K12 has produced an abridged 4 volume edition of A History of Us