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What I Left Out

June 10, 2011

A letter from a reader about the updated 4th edition of "All the People" says: ďI was very disappointed to see that the Mississippi Gulf Coast got barely a sentence in the discussion of Hurricane Katrina. Like the rest of the nation, you have overlooked the destruction that our state suffered and focused only on what New Orleans suffered.Ē
Ah me, she is right, of course. She has hit upon one of the problems of writing history, especially a grand sweep history. You canít tell it all, so you have to make choices. Iím bothered all the time by what I didnít include. So I often tell teachers and students to help me out and write their own volumes of A History of US. You and your students can tackle the history of your town or city or hamlet. Interviewing parents and grandparents and neighbors will provide insights into family history. And then there are all those other things that, even in 10 books, I had to eliminate. Take the Civil War. I attempt to cover it all in one small volume. Except that I donít really. There are whole libraries on just the Civil War. Youíll be amazed at what I left out. So follow your reading with research and writing, maybe you can publish too.

Letters From An Oregon School

June 1, 2011

Getting letters from readers is always a treat. They used to come in handwritten classroom batches, now mostly I get individual emails. Iím not sure what that says about todayís teaching, but there seems to be less time for a writing-to-the-author exercise. So, yesterday, when I got a manila envelope filled with letters from Christopher Nazeís fifth grade in Portland, Oregon, I read them all with delight.
Hereís one of them: (more…)

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