Lower School: Visit with Children’s Author Steve Sheinkin
Reformed textbook writer turned children’s author, Steve Sheinkin, visited Graland to talk about how he takes stories from history and puts a comic, fiction twist on them with his book series, Time Twisters. Speaking to students in Grades 2-4, Mr. Sheinkin talked about his historical fiction books and where he gets his ideas. The father of two, he is often inspired by his own children -- their Halloween costumes, their questions and their creativity.
“I like to take true stories about historic figures and turn them into crazy adventures,” he shared. For “Abraham Lincoln: Pro Wrestler,” he took the fact that Lincoln was a wrestler and crafted a wild tale about time travel and hijinks. It has the President escaping the 1860s and sharing his athleticism and bad jokes with two fourth graders, Abby and Doc, who help convince Lincoln to return to his era in time for his inauguration. The books end with a short lesson in separating the fact from the fiction.
As a textbook writer, Mr. Sheinkin says he often came across historical anecdotes that were ultimately cut from the publications, for example stories of how patriotic women disguised themselves as men and enlisted in the Civil War. He was thus motivated to modify his career and write more creatively for children.
“Since Mr. Sheinkin’s visit, we have had many second, third and fourth graders clamoring to read his books!” said Ashleigh Finn, lead librarian. She shared how Sheinkin’s works integrate with our Lower School curricula and support classroom learning.
Grade 2: The visit was a great opportunity for second graders to begin thinking about how historians select certain figures to research and study. The presentation emphasized the importance of learning somebody’s story and how we can understand people better by learning about their interests and their connections with others. Second graders will apply these lessons on their Biography Projects later this year.
Grade 3: Third graders enjoyed the chance to meet a Newbery award-winning author, hear about the significance of the award, and learn what it means to be a writer. Mr. Sheinkin’s presentation also served as a launching pad as third graders begin diving into writing informational texts.
Grade 4: Mr. Sheinkin’s books tie directly into fourth-grade social studies and the introduction to American history in Grade 4. His comedic approach to teaching history appeals to a wide variety of readers.
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.