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Getting kids interested in any history is always a challenge so anything that helps put a spin on looking into the past has to be a good thing. The History Detective Investigates series from Hodder Wayland is a great way to start youngsters reading about historical events and the local history title is no exception.
If you have children (the series is aimed at the 10-to-14-year-old range) you want to take an interest in family history then getting them to investigate their local surroundings may be a key building block. It's an educational publication with plenty of colour photos and images that aims to provide a framework for local history research.
There are 15 chapters including an introduction, a glossary (words indicated in bold throughout the book can be found here), sources of further information and an index. Chapters are generally brief and to the point, using bullet lists and questions to help the reader forge either a research plan or generally to understand certain aspects of history that may crop up in a local project.
The book goes from Choosing a Topic, which gives advice on what to look for and how to plan a local history project, through to methodologies that involve searching archive records, trade lists, street names, census records, school log books and old photographs and maps. There is also a chapter about talking to people who have lived in an area for a long time to learn about past events as well as a chapter on Other Clues, which basically points the eyes at unusual local features, strange signs, monuments and so on.
In each chapter there are questions (identified by a paw mark - yes, the History Detective is a cartoon dog complete with deer stalker hat and magnifying glass) the answers to which are at the back of the book. The questions are not particularly taxing for the age group but they are aimed more at getting the reader to think in a certain way, to use their eyes to question the surroundings. And in this sense, the book certainly does its job. At £11.99 it is on the pricey side for a 48-page book, but it is very visual and you are not paying for quantity but quality, and the ability to inspire and expand young minds. ■
A great children's guide for discovering local history
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