Book Review: hiSTORY 1, by Stephen J Kimber

Book Review: hiSTORY 1 – A Teaching Book: Teaching History with Narrative Fiction, by Stephen J Kimber

This ebook for years 7 & 8 contains fictional narratives from ancient to medieval times, teaching history through stories that promote discussion and research.

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This ebook for years 7 & 8 contains fictional narratives from ancient to medieval times. Stephen J Kimber explains that it was the narratives, the exciting stories which first got him interested in history. Tales such as the Greek soldier who dies after running to announce the defeat of the Persians at the Battle of Marathon; or the discovery of the double helix of DNA by Crick and Watson. The book is built around different stories which then lead students into further discussion which prompts further research and enquiry.

The first chapter briefly introduces the stories and relates them back to specific areas of the national curriculum, with hyperlinks to the relevant section. For example, ACDSEH037 which discusses contact with other societies which may result in trade, war or development. Following each dramatized narrative are a series of questions relating to the students’ comprehension of the story and the beginning of sentences using quotes from the narrative which require students to find and research further information from other sources.

history1History skills are developed through encouraging the students to think about other questions which could be asked about the particular period and about the actual process of writing the story – what information did the author already have; how might he have gained it; and is there any evidence for a different scenario. Students are also introduced to the concept of a bibliography and the importance of letting readers know where the information came from. In this way Kimber is also providing teachers with the opportunity to guide and inform their students about reliable versus unreliable sources, particularly on the internet.

I liked the structure of the ebook: a story then questions and more research into the period, but personally found all the hyperlinks distracting. It is unclear whether this ebook is a separate “teachers’ version” as all the links to the curriculum details would presumably not be wanted in a student version. I was also disappointed that Kimber features so few women and girls in his narratives particularly as one of the curriculum points that the stories investigate is the role of women in various societies. Perhaps teachers can actually use this deficit as a way to point out how frequently women and girls have been sidelined in the writing of history, despite being half the population.

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

Rating out of 10:  6

Publisher: Inkstained Fingers, Brisbane
Released: July 2016
RRP: $6.99 eBook from amazon.com.au

Disclaimer: Cover image sourced from Pinterest and is not associated with this book. Artist unknown.

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