Joy Hakim: Finding the Stories in Science and History

Big Discovery! I see The Story of Science as a world history with a science theme. Science is filled with stories. I'm now writing about life science. Fascinating and very current.

"Reading Science Stories," will be available by July 1. It's a book intended to teach nonfiction reading through narratives. So I hope language arts teachers, as well as science and history teachers, will look at it as a way to enhance their disciplines. The Common Core State Standards have cited A History of US as exemplary nonfiction for language arts. A History of US and Freedom are in digital format, you can download them onto your IPad, Chrome, or Kindle. The Story of Science will follow soon in ebook format from the Smithsonian. The three science books have been translated into Korean and Chinese, so if you want to hone your skills in those languages, you can do it. I'm now working on biology books, they'll be in multiple formats.

A History of US: It's Our Story

On the first page of book three, From Colonies to Country, there's a challenge: "The picture on the cover tells a lie. Read this book and find out why." This is American history as it's not usually presented. In this third volume, you'll encounter nasty King John, who had to deal with habeas corpus (and you'll learn what those words mean). You'll meet William Johnson (a British/Mohawk Indian hero who was knighted by the king), and you'll find that history is filled with adventures and stories--that all just happen to be true.

History is chronological and so is this 10-book series: Book one begins thousands of years ago with people walking and boating toward an unknown continent. Book three deals with the revolutionary and constitution-making era. Book six tackles the Civil War. Book ten ends with the election of Barack Obama. These small books are easy to read, and there's none of the intimidation that comes with behemoth texts. A History of US is an attempt to break the textbook mold. As one child reader wrote, the books seem like "an action movie."

Winner of the James Michener and other prizes, the series meets standards in Virginia and California and most states. A hardcover edition provides a durable classroom choice, but the books are also available in softcover. The small book format brings flexibility: some schools and literacy programs use the books to teach nonfiction reading as well as social studies.

Teaching materials, audio books, and classroom films are available. The Talent Development Program at Johns Hopkins University uses the series in its schools and has done classroom-tested teaching materials, available from Amazon. The audio version is available from Recorded Books and also can be downloaded on your iPad. K12Inc. has produced a concise 4-book edition.
A coordinated teaching website can be found at PBS. A PBS special, with 16 video adventures based on the series, is available for school use.

Coordinated Teaching Materials
To order JOHNS HOPKINS TEACHING MATERIALS for each volume of A History of US (they are terrific) go to and enter the title of the book + either “Teaching Guide” or “Resource Book.” You need to order both the Teaching Guide and the Resource Book to have the complete curriculum. For example, type “Liberty for All? Teaching Guide” or “Liberty for All Resource Book.” This will result in multiple versions of teaching materials, so make sure you order the Johns Hopkins materials (blue cover) with a publication date of December 2010. The Oxford University Press site also has very good coordinated teaching materials.


Quotes from Authorities

"Best of all is Joy Hakim's way with the story. Never dull, never the least plodding, she brings refreshing spirit and common sense to the telling of every episode. The historic personages, great and small, are all alive, real people, and the idea that history might ever be thought of as a chore has clearly never crossed her mind." –David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of John Adams

"In the sorry state of current textbooks the achievement of Joy Hakim's A History of US is all the more impressive. Hakim set out to write a series of books that would combine the best qualities of the earlier narrative histories with modern historical research. Convinced that history is inherently fascinating, she fills her books with anecdotes, quotations, humor, and well-described characters. Instead of talking down to children in simplified language, her books invite children to make an effort." –The New York Review of Books, June 11, 1998

"Humanizing details have made Joy Hakim the J.K. Rowling of the history world." –Alison Adato, Joanna Blonska, People Magazine

"Imagine a history textbook so full of provocative storytelling and graphics that it brings your sixth grader to tears." –Gwen Sublette for Colorado Parent magazine

Joy Hakim is, "breathing new life into the study of our nation's past, inspiring teachers and schoolchildren from Maryland to Michigan and beyond to become passionate about the civil war and civil rights." –Sue De Pasquale for Johns Hopkins magazine

Quotes from Kids

I often get letters from kids about my books. Here are just a few examples of what they have to say.

"You have saved me from another year of boring Social Studies text books. Your books are great and make you feel you are in the book with the Indians or the Europeans or whatever it is. You make me feel like I am really jumping into a time machine into the past. -Katie Rahowski

"My name is Jason Goodine. I am in 6th grade. Last year when my class studied the Civil War I did not want to stop learning about it....I like how you talk about so much in your books. Before our school got the History of US books, I hated social studies...Then I really started to like social studies. I like your books. They are so descriptive. In my spare time when I start to read one of your books I cannot put it down." -Jason Goodine

"Ever since your book on American History was first published, our eighth-grade teacher, Charles Schefer, has wanted it for our school. Well, after five years our class is the first to use it! It is an awesome way of presenting American History, so that we look forward, five days a week, for our American History class!" -Katie Schneider, St. Petersburg, FL

"My name is Claire Dorman. I have all ten of your A History of US books, and I love reading each and every one of them. I like the way you make the reader feel like she is in the time that you are talking about...One of my favorite books was An Age of Extremes. Yes, the one with the "boring" presidents chapter. Hey, you know, that chapter was not boring at all." - Claire Dorman, Newark, CA

"Other books just give the information, plain and flat. You make it fun. I don't know exactly how you made Social Studies fun, but you did, and I thank you for that." –John, 5th grade, Hearst Elementary, San Diego

"Joy Hakim makes it so kids can understand about Martin Luther King, Jr, Harry Truman, and Thurgood Marshall, or Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez, and Ronald Reagan....I think this is one of the top history books, if not the best. But I haven't read all the history books, and I probably never will, but this will be my all-time favorite." - Jason Diemer

"I think it's so important that kids understand about America. If we don't know how it was formed, if we don't understand what freedom, liberty and justice mean, how will we ever become good citizens? You can't stand up for your rights if you don't know what they are. And now I do." - Susie Allen, Palo Alto, CA

New One-Volume Edition

Specially suited for middle and high school readers.

This lively history explores the concept of American freedom over the centuries—and the tensions, conflicts, and triumphs it has sparked. Filled with beautiful photos and artwork that complement gripping accounts of both famous and ordinary Americans, the simply written volume makes history a compelling thematic narrative showing how “liberty and justice for all is both our legacy and our destination.”

Freedom: A History of US (PBS)

PBS created a TV series (with celebrity voiceovers) and an accompanying program for teachers based on A History of US. Go to the PBS Freedom Teaching Website and you can view webisodes, read historical primers, browse teaching guides, and more. To buy the DVD's, go to the PBS Teacher Shop.

A Self-Portrait of 19th Century Political Cartoonist Thomas Nast, From Book 7, Chap 19

A 19th century artist's idea of 17th century children in a kitchen, from Book Two, Ch 24

A History of Us tells the tale of America in 10 user-friendly small illustrated books. (An 11th source book, with original documents, is also available.) Each one, or the whole set, can be purchased at your favorite bookstore, or online. A very durable HARDCOVER classroom edition at special quantity school pricing is available directly from Oxford University Press. Extensive teaching materials and videos are also available.