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Unlocking the Past

Are your students passionately curious about history? Do you wish they were? In Unlocking the Past, we offer educators and students a variety of resources to enjoy and appreciate history through reading and writing

American flag surrounded by the words Grateful American Foundation

Unlocking the Past is made possible thanks to our partnership with the Grateful American Foundation, which awards the Grateful American Book Prize each year for excellence in writing, storytelling and illustration for children’s literature focused on American history.


We want to celebrate careful reading, critical thinking, thoughtful debate and develop curiosity about what life was really like in the past. Our ‘Unlocking the Past’ materials include a range of resources for teachers, parents and students.

What you’ll find here:

  • Articles and teaching resources
  • Author Interviews
  • Diverse text sets
  • Featured book lists 
  • Instructional Videos
    • Opportunities to ask questions

    Author Interviews

    Listen to your favorite middle grade and YA authors of historical fiction and non-fiction discuss their writing process, the importance of studying history and more.

    Ideas to Tweak Your Instruction

    Have you been looking for new ways to engage your students or children in studying history? Be inspired by the creative ideas shared by these middle and high school teachers.

    word history spelled out with people standing next to historical items

    Content-Area Literacy

    Content-Area Literacy: History

    The ability to read historical documents including contemporary explications about societal, economic and political issues provides a direct link to literacy as preparation for citizenship.

    Multicultural high school students in Real World History discussion on Selma

    Content-Area Literacy

    Real World History

    Real World History — a high school history class offered through DC public schools — invites students to develop their skills as historians as they study the Great Migration of African-Americans from the rural south to big cities such as Detroit, Chicago and Washington, D.C.


    Identifying key ideas and supporting details These 6th grade students work on their own and with partners to navigate a text about Ancient Egypt. The teacher helps her students to identify key ideas, discuss details, and draw inferences from what they’re read.

    Using multiple sources of information Watch as this 11th grade history teacher orients her students to the vast array of materials on the Civil War, including images, maps, and texts. Next, students use graphic organizers to help navigate the written texts.


    Supporting Students' Engagement and Thinking

    Anticipation Guide

    Comprehension

    Anticipation Guides

    Learn about how Anticipation Guides can support your students’ learning and see our *NEW* fillable .pdf to download and use.

    Inquiry Chart Header

    Comprehension Writing

    Inquiry Charts (I-Charts)

    Learn about how Inquiry Charts can support your students’ learning and see our *NEW* fillable .pdf to download and use.


    Diverse Historical Book Lists

    “Books are a form of political action. Books are knowledge. Books are a reflection. Books change your mind.”

    Toni Morrison

    Detail from cover Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of Stamped from the Beginning

    Themed Booklists

    Race and American History

    The history of race in America encompasses questions of freedom, justice, and equality. Explore current and past struggles over racial equity through a collection of non-fiction novels.

    Detail of book cover Number the Stars

    Themed Booklists

    Those Who Risked Their Lives in WWII

    Read about the underground resistance movement and brave individuals who helped shelter Jews, from the perspectives of both the rescuers and the survivors. These books are an excellent complement to history units on World War II.