Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What Makes a Good US History Textbook?

I recently received an email from a US History teacher in Hawaii, who inquired about a text book that accurately portrays "the other side" as it deals with America's dealings with the American Indian and the annexation of Hawaii.

At a loss, I figured I'd post his request to see if anyone out there can give him some guidance. Please comment below or email me directly at USHistorySite at gmail dot com.

This also begs the question, What makes a good American History textbook?

His request below. Thanks in advance for your help.


I teach in a small (only 40 students grades K-12) Public Charter School in Hawai'i whose students are all Hawaiian and who all come from families from the privately-owned island of Ni'ihau. Most of our students speak Hawaiian as their first language, and those who don't have chosen our school because part of the mission of the school is to help strengthen and perpetuate the Ni'ihau dialect among this small community who are the only speakers of this dialect in the entire world.

So far we have been doing project-based or topic-based lessons in US history, but I've been wondering if there exists a good high school textbook (or other book) that presents all the great things in US history but which also deals fairly with the not-so-admirable topics by presenting "the other side," especially when dealing with American Indians and even the annexation of Hawai'i.

Hawaiian students are more than aware of the injustice of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, and the sovereignty movement is definitely a live issue here, so sometimes it's a fine line between acknowledging past wrongs and still appreciating the good side of the US, especially for these students.

I've searched the Internet and asked other teachers here on Kaua'i, but no one seems to know if such a book exists. I've never even entered a blog site before, but I started wondering if this is a way to find what I'm looking for. On thing to consider is that for most of our students, English is their second language, so the difficulty of the language in a text must be considered.

To whomever reads this: Is this a way to help me in my search, or do you have any other suggestions?

Mahalo (thank you),
Hokulani Cleeland