Friday, July 27, 2012

Making Nonfiction Interesting for Kids

Today while writing my current book, I'm reminded of my History of Design professor, Pat Allred --- who made design history come alive. And, in doing so, gave me a life long love of design history. 

So, here's a reposting of my piece from February of this year titled Making Nonfiction Interesting for Kids. 
 My 50th post!
*OK, maybe my 50th tag... about my 47th post. But, I worked so hard on that graphic that I had to leave it. 

Recently, I’ve been thinking way back to my senior year in college. That year, while fulfilling the last electives to graduate, I took the most interesting classes of my college experience – History of Design, Art and Environment and History of the Home. I just unearthed my class notebooks and those were the actual titles. Until now, I haven’t had to use what I learned in those classes, except for help in Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit*, of course.

As I think back, Pat Allred, my professor for History of Design, did a fabulous job making the information interesting and relatable. With each design time period –Victorian, Bauhaus, Moderne, etc, she first explained the historical facts of the time. Then, she went through each design discipline and related it to the time period and the other areas – Graphic, Furniture, Architecture, etc. I totally got it.

Then, as I was writing my senior paper on Doll Design, I was able to use what I learned from Professor Allred and mix the evolution of dolls within a historical timeline combining how children were perceived through the years, manufacturing processes, social and fashion trends. For the entire three hours of class time, she had slides to illustrate what she was teaching. As I said above, I found my notebook complete with extensive outline, notes, bibliography and copies of every slide – an absolute goldmine.

As I begin the research and writing on my new book, I’m aiming to make the information interesting and relatable. All that architecture and design history fodder is finally going to be of use as I research and write biographies for 22 women architects, landscape architects and engineers. I’m so inspired and passionate about these women, but how can I make the information interesting and engaging for kids? With any luck, I can incorporate what I learned in Professor Allred’s classes as I write and inspire future architects and engineers. Anyone else have a similar experience with clearing off the cobwebs and making use of material stored way back in the back of your brain?

*Once, in an intense game of Trivial Pursuit, I won by knowing about the Dionne Quintuplets. They were the first quintuplets that survived through infancy – and were made into a doll line. Gotta love design history.


Jewel Sample said...

I find your post calling me to check out that box of college notebooks and see if there is anything I can glean. I collect antique dolls. I would love to read you paper on doll design. Any chance of that happening?

Annalisa said...



Sebastian Clouth said...


I'm the editor for the Books section on Before It's News,‭ ‬and I came across your website. 

We'd love to republish your RSS feed on our site,‭ ‬with a link back to your website.‭ ‬You'd benefit from having some of our millions of readers see your posts and go through to your blog.

Let me know if this sounds like something you're interested in‭!

Best regards,
Sebastian Clouth