Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Carlos Watson Biography - Was a Student Journalist to Stefan Zweig (1881–1942) Biography » Carolyn P(atricia) Yoder (1953-) Biography - Career, Awards, Honors, Writings, Sidelights - Personal, Member, Work in Progress

Carolyn P(atricia) Yoder (1953-) - Sidelights

history washington kids writer

Carolyn P. Yoder had been writing about history in children's periodicals for two decades before she edited and compiled George Washington: The Writer: A Treasury of Letters, Diaries, and Public Documents in 2003. That book reflects "a unique approach" to biography, according to Lana Miles in School Library Journal, and through it "Washington's opinions, thoughts, and personality are vividly portrayed." In George Washington: The Writer, Yoder collects excerpts from Washington's public and private writings, dating from his early career For George Washington: The Writer: A Treasury of Letters, Diaries and Public Documents Yoder compiled and edited Washington's letters, diaries, and official documents, showing through his words his love for his family, friends, and country. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish, N.H.) as an officer in the Colonial army, through his commandership of the American armies during the Revolutionary War and his service as the first president of the United States, to his retirement at his estate, Mount Vernon. It ends with the entry he wrote in his journal the night before he died, in 1799. The excerpts are arranged chronologically, and Yoder opens each section with a brief explanation of where Washington was and what he was doing at that time. Those explanations, and Yoder's initial overview of Washington's life, are "very helpful in understanding the writings in the context of Washington's life and times," remarked Carolyn Phelan in Booklist.

Yoder told SATA: "When I was younger, history was definitely not my favorite subject. It usually involved too much reading and too many facts. It also usually dealt with people I didn't really care to know. When I got to Stuart Country Day School in my junior year of high school, all that changed. History became exciting. It was no longer about dry facts and figures but about stories—the lives of men, women, and children, some well known and some not so well known.

"Throughout college, I pursued stories about the past, taking all kinds of history classes—the history of science, art, and architecture as well as just plain history. I was also drawn to biographies and memoirs. After graduation from Washington University, I stayed in St. Louis to help a woman write her life story. I decided then that history and writing weren't bad ways to make a living. I then went on to graduate school in Iowa where I studied literature and writing. After two jobs learning all I could about the publishing business, I landed at Cobblestone Publishing, where I was able to combine my love of history and writing. At that time, Cobblestone published two magazines on history: American and classical. It was an added bonus that they were for kids, ages eight to fourteen.

"When I talked to kids about history, I always hit a brick wall. They were too turned off by dry facts and too much reading in textbooks. My work became a challenge: to get kids interested in history, to convince them that history is all about really good stories. That history can be about them, their families, and their ancestors! After leaving Cobblestone, I pursued work that dealt with history and children. I directed the New Hampshire Antiquarian Society that ran programs for kids (everything from teas to contests to field trips) and edited and wrote history articles for kids.

"When I moved back to Princeton, New Jersey, four years ago, I continued bringing history to kids. I write Jersey Journeys, the student publication of The New Jersey Historical Society that deals with broad New Jersey themes and encourages kids to know their state a bit better. By also highlighting the Society's artifacts and papers, it also points out that museums can be fun places to learn.

"I also edit history for Highlights magazine and spend most of my free time on writing projects. The one I'm most excited about was published in February, 2003. Written for grades six and up, George Washington: The Writer is a collection of his letters, diaries, and public documents. By reading Washington's words, kids will be introduced to a man who was not superhuman but someone dedicated to family, friends, home, and the country he helped shape—someone who they can relate to and would want to know."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 15, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of George Washington: The Writer: A Treasury of Letters, Diaries, and Public Documents, p. 1316.

School Library Journal, February, 2003, Lana Miles, review of George Washington: The Writer, p. 171; August, 2003, Diane S. Marton, review of Italian Americans and Asian Indian Americans, p. 153.

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