top of page
  • Writer's pictureBookkitty

Listen Up: Been There, Done That

Hi Friends

"Always as questions, the wise man advises. Don't just choose to believe everything you've been told. You must discover new ways to think, instead of just memorizing the old thoughts of old people." Margarita Engle, from her short story The Genius of Curiousity

Today we enjoy two short stories: Inspired by Curiousity & The Genius of Curiosity, written by Margarita Engle. They come from the collection Been There, Done That. Writing Stories From Real Life, edited by Mike Winchell.

1. Righty then, my curious friends. The author cites being inspired by Alexander von Humboldt, or the Genius of Curiosity as she calls him. Who inspires you? Is it someone who works to make the world brighter? Someone who overcame adversity? Someone who discovered things? Is it someone very old or just about your age? Is it someone very different from you? Do you ever think about how YOU might be inspirational to someone else? Yep. It's true. Even people who live seemingly unremarkable lives have the power to inspire:) What are three things you want to find out more about?

2. On page 222, the author writes that in her family's telling, von Humboldt praised the beauty of the island women however she finds out (from primary sources) that he actually noted their lively intelligence. It is kinda like that game Telephone, where words get altered over time. But to do research & write nonfiction, the author wants to use authentic information & verifiable facts. Margarita Engle notes that "I read von Humboldt's diary, along with his essays about Cuba." (page 222) to find out more. These types of resources are called primary sources because they are a firsthand description of events. Some examples of primary sources are a diary, a video recording, a photograph or an essay. Just imagine, if someday a scholar will write your biography. What kinds of primary sources could they gather to find out about who you are? Maybe today is a great day to start keeping a journal or diary;)

3. NO GPS! Lots of us grew up before smartphones & the Internet...blah blah blah. Those of you who are growing up in today's world often have instant access to constantly updating satellite imagery of the world as it actually exists in space & time. It is important to be able to think though, right? One thing to try is pay attention to the places you go often, maybe on the school bus or to a friend's house, the grocery store or Grandma's. You could make mental notes about street names, landmarks or other directional markers. Observe the sunrise & sunset to figure out which way is East & West. Look at an atlas or digital map, then try to map out the driving route to Disneyworld. Grab some paper & write directions to a super yummy bakery. Channel your inner von Humboldt & go explore a park with a homemade compass:

Toodloo, Kangaroos!

Today's book was Been There, Done That. Writing Stories from Real Life edited by Mike Winchell. You can find out more about poet Margarita Engle at her website or at the Poetry Foundation

Here are a few good books about maps for curious kids:

Where Do I Live? by Neil Chesanow or There's a Map on My Lap by TrishRabe or Follow That Map! by Scot Ritchie

Thanks to Pexels contributers for providing awesome video clips.

12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


2023-2024 Annual Appeal

bottom of page