History via Sweet Valley High

24 Aug

I was reading something about Prohibition and my first thought was Sweet Valley High.  Random, I know! But there is a train of thought there, I swear! 

It’s  funny how the most random things can get you interested in something totally unexpected.  When I was young, I bought one of those Sweet Valley High special books. It was a “saga” book about the Wakefields throughout history.  Basically, it starts with their mother’s ancestor coming over to the US from Sweden and follows their history until the twins’ mother.  In each case, their ancestor has a near miss of falling in love with a Wakefield ancestor.  Finally their mom meets their dad and that’s how the Wakefield sisters came to be.

But that wasn’t the great part of the book.  The great part was being introduced to the historical time periods that all these women grew up in.  Up until then, history had been boring – dry facts, memorizing years that wars had taken place in. I guess it just never connected with me that there were real people with real stories that lived this. 

It probably wasn’t the most historically accurate novel but it made me interested in learning more about history.  The first ancestor immigrated to the US .  One of her daughters wears bloomers at a time when women didn’t wear pants and runs off to join the circus.  Then she is in San Francisco for the big earthquake.  And then her daughters are young during the Roaring Twenties. I learned about bootlegging and speakeasies and Prohibition. Then her daughter is part of the French Resistance which I had never heard about before reading the book.  It made me realize that there are stories behind all these historic facts.  There are real people behind those facts.

So I started to read more about history and started to realize there’s more to it than memorizing what year a war ended.  I started to care about visiting historic sites on vacation.  Nowadays, I’ll even watch shows on the History channel.  Even though every once in a while, it brings back a memory of a Sweet Valley High book. 

I really wish I had that book still. I’m sure I would find it incredibly cheesy but I would like to reread it!


3 Responses to “History via Sweet Valley High”

  1. Karen August 25, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

    That’s awesome! Any book that gets kids interested in history is a good one, even if it takes some liberties with the truth. I was a fan of Sweet Valley Twins but somehow glossed over the Sweet Valley High series…

    • Stella M. August 28, 2010 at 8:55 am #

      That’s an interesting and pleasant way to approach history. I think it works with movies and travelling as well.

      @BlackSheep: I agree with you. Childhood years did shape the person one is now.

  2. FCblacksheep August 25, 2010 at 7:59 pm #

    Wow, that’s really cool. It’s really interesting how things from our childhood can continue to have an impact on our lives in ways we may have never thought. I used to read my older sister’s Sweet Valley books; I distinctly remember one about a school bike trip. Years later a friend in college mentioned he rode his bike all over California and all I could think of was Sweet Valley High. OK, so not as deep as your example, but kind of related. Maybe.

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