I wish I'd paid more attention when I had been in school, especially when it came to social studies. I'd always ace the tests, but once they were behind me, I'd forget which explorer discovered what country and so many other historical facts that would have come in handy, at the very least, when playing a round of Trivial Pursuit. I'd like to place blame on uninspiring teachers and dull history books, but if I had to be honest, I suppose I simply wasn't curious enough. I know that I'm far from being alone, but, fortunately, there is one young girl who is not only curious about the men and women who made it into those history books, but is already, at the age of eight years old, inspiring others with her passion.
Maxine Tewsley told me she was first inspired by history when her mother read her the book Abraham Lincoln by Amy L.Cohn when Maxine was just five years old. Once she was in 1st grade, to celebrate the 100th day of school, the class was assigned to create something to mark the occasion. Maxine drew 100 pictures of events from American history, titled and wrote the date on each page, and placed these pages in a binder in chronological order. Apparently, that was just the beginning; now, as a third grader, Maxine has started her own blog. The subject matter for the most part? Why, her love of history, of course.
Initially, when I came across this blog, I thought, how cute, but the further I read, I realized I might be witnessing the beginning of a bright future for this very young girl. Her topics include her love of Abraham Lincoln, remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. and the recent death of Miep Gies, the woman who helped Anne Frank and her family. Without a doubt, Maxine has a desire to know more about those who were here before us and researches these historical figures. She then provides documentation for the research she's done by listing the titles of the books she used to get her information. When I asked Maxine why she thought studying history helps us understand the world better, she replied, "It helps you not to make the same mistakes and you learn why your country was made. It helps us understand ourselves better. For example, I learned from studying Abe Lincoln that it is important to be honest. From Anne Frank I learned that it was not okay to take people from their homes and treat them horribly."
Apparently, Maxine is taking her understanding of history to heart since she and her friends, along with the help of her parents, had a garage sale to raise funds for the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. She's also written a letter to President Obama, telling him how excited she was that he was elected and to let him know just how bad unemployment is in her home state of Michigan. Hanging in her room is a response from the White House signed by the president.
In addition to studying history, Maxine also likes to play on the Wii with her little brother, Alden, and takes tap, jazz and ballet, but reading is one of her favorite pastimes. Right now she's enjoying Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson. One day, she hopes, as is stated in her biography, to write her own book about either Gerald Ford or Abraham Lincoln. Plus, she told me, "I would also like to be a historian so I can solve the mystery of who reported Anne Frank was hiding with her family, and what John Wilkes Booth showed the man to get into Fords Theater."
Move over Doris Kearns Goodwin.