Baseball History for Kids

Babe Ruth

Opening day is less than three weeks away.

April 3rd is that glorious spring day when the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd gives hope to fans of every team that this will be their year.

The sights and sounds that give rise to that eternal hope have been ingrained in the American experience since 1845, when Alexander Cartwright laid down the first set of rules for the modern game of baseball.

For me, the great thing about baseball is the way kids pick up the essentials of the sport and learn to play it.

The game is simple. Throw the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball, run!

Baseball may remain a relatively simple game, but the history of it has been anything but.

Baseball History for KidsRichard Panchyk’s new book, Baseball History for Kids offers a fascinating look at baseball’s complex and fascinating transformation into a professional sport that is now played all over the world. The author takes young readers through key eras and events of the game with engaging descriptions, highlighted by firsthand interviews with more than 175 greats of the game.

It’s a fun book to read, with loads of photos and interesting sidebar stories. The author makes frequent comparisons between the past and present, such as the fact that facial hair on players was unheard of for most of the 20th century. Or how today’s minimum major league salary is one hundred times higher than it was in the 1950s. Or that during the “dead ball era,” the 1902 National League home run champion had just six homers, all of them inside-the-park.

But the biggest kick you and your kids will get out of this book will be the 19 hands-on activities peppered throughout each chapter. They’re an engaging way for you to introduce the game of baseball to your children. Sit down and build a miniature version of your favorite stadium, or cook up some homemade Cracker Jack. Hold a contest to see who can throw a ball the farthest or the closest to a target. Teach your kids to keep score and to throw a palm ball.

This book is packed with fun activities to share with your kids. In fact, it’s going to be as much fun for you as it will be for them. You’ll easily pass along your love for baseball, while also sparking an interest in the history of our country. This book can be a gateway to further learning about World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, and the growth of the American West.

Thanks to the good folks at Chicago Review Press, I just happen to have a copy of Baseball History for Kids to give away to one of my readers. Use the widget below, and I’ll pick a winner next week!

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History is Boring

Bored at The British Museum

While walking through what I consider to be one of the best museums in the world, I spotted this kid who was more interested in his Nintendo DS than in the staggering amount of world history that was on display all around him.

Right in front of him were Ancient Egyptian mummies! But his attention was focused on electronic zombies instead.

Maybe he’d taken it all in already. The British Museum is a big place, and you can certainly feel a bit overwhelmed by it all.

I was thinking, “Would that have been me when I was ten?” My passion for history didn’t develop until college, so I very well could’ve been that kid on the floor, rolling his eyes at one more 5,000-year-old statue.

My own kids are different. They both have a much stronger appreciation for the past than I did. My son, especially, loves Egyptian and Roman history, and would’ve been walking on air in the British Museum.

History doesn’t have to be boring. If a child understands the passage of time and how different people and events relate to each other on a timeline, they can learn to love history at an early age.

One key is to help kids understand what it all has to do with them right now. Find a good starting point (the classical republics of ancient Rome and Greece are the most obvious), hit the major events, keep it simple, and make it fun. After they see the connections to the modern world, you can go back and fill in the gaps.

I’d like to take credit for my son’s love of history, but I think he was mostly inspired by the Horrible Histories book series that highlights all the awful, gross, repugnant things that humans have done throughout the years. Kids love that stuff. It’s like Halloween!

We also watch a couple of historical documentaries each week. Netflix is a treasure trove for these. One of the earliest shows we watched was Digging For The Truth, a slick History Channel production that is part history, part archaeology, and part myth, with a little bit of Indiana Jones thrown in.

Someday, I hope to take my kids to The British Museum, and I don’t think either of them will end up on the floor, staring at a video game, while all around them the history of the world is on display.