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Review: History Through Stories by Chris Smith, Adam Guillain and Nanette Noonan

History Through Stories - Teaching Primary History Through Stories; Chris Smith, Adam Guillain & Nanette Noonan; 9781907359774

We’ve just received this review from The School Librarian volume 65. We’re so happy that they’ve chosen to review us again – many thanks!

This is the fourth in the Storytelling Schools series. The Storytelling Schools approach to teaching involves telling stories from memory as a strategy for learning both language and topic content. It combines storytelling, drama and creative writing in a systematic way across the curriculum. There are over one hundred Storytelling Schools in England.

There are thirty-seven units in this book, working chronologically from 10,000 BC to man landing on the moon. Each unit contains up to three stories, all specially written for this book, either using fictional characters to inhabit the historical landscape within the story, or using real historical figures and imagining the details. As an example, the unit on World War One contains a story told by a grandfather to his granddaughter about fighting in the Battle of the Somme and a story by a fictional character playing in the football match in the unofficial truce of Christmas 1914. There are suggested links to other curriculum areas: war poetry, identifying countries taking part in the war and wartime songs for example. There are then history related activities, including trying to answer the question ‘How Did World War One start?’ As this has been debated by historians for over a hundred years it may be rather simplistic to suggest splitting the class into the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente to research the countries and decide on the answer. However, there are generally some good ideas here even if one does not fully subscribe to the  Storytelling Schools philosophy.

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