Fifth Annual Festival of the Book in Missoula

Several authors talked about books that seem worth reading for heritage teachers, either for their own growth or as possible texts to use with students.

Jeanette Ingold has published several young adult novels that focus on Montana’s past. The Big Burn follows a sixteen year old protagonist through the excitement and challenges of the 1910 fires in Idaho and Montana. Mountain Solo is the story of a sixteen-year-old girl who is a musical virtuoso but leaves New York to join her father in Montana. “To be a writer you have to be a reader,” Jeanette said. “Some place inside me I have the voices of hundreds or thousands of writers who taught me what language sounds like when it is used well.” Her advice to young writers: “Write lots and lots. Then look for those sentences that stand out as good and true.”

Marcus Stevens says that “history is a point of view—an act of imagination as much as fiction is.” He is the author of Useful Girl, the story of a high school girl in Billings whose life is changed when she discovers the 127-year-old remains of a nine-year-old Cheyenne girl. This is his second novel. His first, The Curve of the World was published in 2002. He lives in Belgrade. “A great way to avoid writing is to keep researching,” he said.

Frank Allen is president and director of the Institutes for Journalism and Natural Resources, which takes journalists on expeditions to places facing environmental challenges, so they can meet people, experience places, and deepen their understanding of the nature and pace of the changes occurring in the American West. He’s been a journalist for twenty-five years, fourteen of which were as an editor at the Wall Street Journal. He was the WSJ‘s first environment editor. The IJNR has published Matching the Scenery: Journalism’s Duty to the American West. “We protect what we love,” he said. “And we love what we understand.”

According to Allen, people in the west need “a deeper shared understanding” of the place they live, including knowledge of the “roots, histories, patterns and themes” that shape life here. “They also need a greater appreciation of important changes that are under way—and to the contexts, consequences and implications of these changes. Western newsrooms are public trusts that have a responsibility to meet these needs.”

Except that his target audience is journalists rather than high school students, the IJNR would seem to have much in common with the Heritage Project.

Heritage Project teachers (either affiliates or members of demonstration site teams) who would like to review any of the books listed above, please let us know. We will provide a copy of the book and pay $50 for the finished review (500-1000 words). Write for other teachers, letting them know what is useful or not useful about the book as it pertains to their professional practice.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 10/01 at 02:59 PM
(1) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalinkPrinter-FriendlyE-mail this page
2004 Montana Heritage Project