Writing blog posts seems to send me off on internet research trips. Here are some of the things I’m finding. Some will be suitable for Tigger directly (age 11) and some will be more for my own learning. I’d never read any Dickens until Tigger and I read A Christmas Carol together last year. And my historical knowledge is generally woeful.
BBC animated biography of Dickens: This looks good. Basic. And just the sort of thing Tigger likes. Links at the bottom of the page to other kid-friendly resources.
BBC History Victorian England: Lots and lots of relevant historical information. And a Victorian history trail, with activities, games, etc. I suspect, our whole study could be based on materials found on these two pages.
Some interesting looking links from Web English Teacher to resources for teaching Dickens, including detailed lesson plans and vocabulary guides that I probably won’t use.
And another link-fest from the Innovative Teaching News.
There are some very useful things available as supplements to the Broadview Press Anthology of British Literature. Most of the links associated with this are secured to people who own the text but (under Extra Materials in the side bar) there is a useful article on British money, and a slew of short audio clips that give a sense of the sound of British literature. They obviously don’t go back far and the Florence Nightengale one is pretty scratchy, but still… There is also a very handy chronological chart available for Vol 5 (The Victorian Era). It is presented in two columns with literary works on the left and historical events on the right.
I like to listen to In Our Time while doing things in the kitchen that don’t require much intellectual engagement (it is not the sort of radio that works well if you are distracted). The following programs from the History archive are relevant to the period: Victorian Realism (about novels and the reaction to romanticism), The Riddle of the Sands (on English-German relations from Waterloo to WWI), The Enclosures, The Charge of the Light Brigade (Crimean War), The Opium Wars, William Wilberforce, The Great Exhibition, and The Peterloo Massacre (and it’s relation to the Reform Act of 1832). Two programs that cover a longer period but address very relevant themes are The Aristocracy and Slavery and Empire.
This reminds me that we have touched on this period before. Tigger has a biography of Florence Nightingale from the Usborne Famous Lives series that she enjoyed so much she dressed as FN for Halloween a couple of years ago. We also have The Villainous Victorians from the Horrible Histories series. And Mill Girl from the My Story series of fictional diaries is also relevant. It looks like there are also volumes in that series on the Victorian Workhouse and the Irish Famine though we don’t have those.
And that reminds me that we have read about the Irish famine in the past, mainly historical fiction: Nory Ryan’s Song and Maggie’s Door by Patricia Reilly Giff. But Myra Zarnowski recommends the non-fiction account Black Potatoes by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (which is in our library system). I suspect we won’t go into that in great detail at this point, except to point out that it was happening at the same time. Maybe now is the time to get the whole time-line thing going around here.
I am running into a bit of a periodization issue in this search for resources. The Very Short Introduction uses a long 19th Century — 1789 (French Revolution) to 1914 (WWI). The literary material and the BBC site use The Victorian Age (she reigned from 1837-1901) and thus a short 19th century. I might have to think more on this and talk to Mat about the possible consequences of each approach (since he actually studied history at university, though perhaps not this period). Any thoughts from readers about this would be most welcome. I have access to, and am happy to read, academic journal articles. So if there was something you read as a student that addresses this issue, do let me know.
My approach to any topic is increasingly to consider my own education alongside Tigger’s. As such, I am interested in good books for myself as well as books accessible to her. I’m not going to read all of this stuff. But I like to have a sense of the shape of the terrain before deciding on the particular path we will follow.