Visiting Author Shares About Writing (Almost) Unbelievable Histories

Steve Sheinkin thinks history is exciting, and he made a good case for this belief during a presentation to Middle School students on Monday, February 11.
The critically acclaimed author of several nonfiction history books visited the Middle School as part of the Literary Month celebration. In front of a packed audience of students and faculty, he shared the inspiration for his captivating nonfiction books and gave students insight into his writing process.

Sheinkin’s books tell stories of real moments in history, but with a focus on the parts those histories that didn’t make it into school textbooks. Put another way: his telling of history is anything but boring. For example Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon, a nonfiction account of the race to build the atomic bomb, reads more like a spy thriller, replete with risk-taking, plotting, and yes, spies. Sheinkin shared various fascinating stories from his books with the students, and also provided some insight into his writing process, from forming the initial concept of a book to the final stages of editing.

Judy Murphy, the School librarian who brought Sheinkin to Masters, said that his presentation was an example of the ways in which he makes history exciting for young people. “Sheinkin not only makes history come alive, he makes it thrilling. Our students were at the edge of their seats as he relayed true story after unbelievable true story.”

During the Q&A, student asked questions ranging from which of his books is his personal favorite (right now, it’s Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team) and what his next book concept may be (he’s thinking it will be about an early aviation cross-country airplane race), to whether he has any input on cover designs (he doesn’t) and if his kids read his books (yes, but only because they have been assigned his books in class).

Sheinkin also held a writing workshop with 19 students who signed up. During the workshop, Sheinkin gave students a creative writing prompt, and students then wrote and read their pieces to each other. 

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