How To Make History Fun For Kids – With Conner Boyack – History is abut telling a story. History can be fun, and author Conner Boyack joins us today to discuss how to make history fun for kids and his books!
Air Date: 06/27/2022
Guest: Conner Boyack
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Welcome to intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live. Thanks so much for joining us today. My name is Rick Green. I’m a former Texas legislator and America’s constitution coach. I’m here with David Barton and Tim Barton. Tim Barton is a national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. David Barton is the founder of WallBuilders and America’s premier historian.
Tons of books and videos and fantastic material that will educate you, equip you, inspire you all available right now at wallbuilders.com. That’s wallbuilders.com. And then our radio site, wallbuilderslive.com, that’s where you can get archives of the program. If you’re a first time listener today, you can go back in there and find some of those Good News Fridays to encourage you, some Foundations of Freedom Thursdays to dig deep into the principles of the nation as we answer your questions about those things.
And then Monday through Wednesday, typically, we have an interview with someone that’s out there on the front lines, that’s influencing the culture in a positive way, restoring biblical principles, restoring those things that will make our nation once again be a great nation and a blessing to the people of America, but also people around the world. That’s the really cool thing about applying biblical worldview to a culture is that you’re truly salt in light. You’re not only preserve the culture, you don’t only preserve the meat, you’re actually bringing out the best flavor, you’re making it the best that it can be. And people thrive and they have abundance and they have blessings. Deuteronomy describes all of this, when we do things God’s way, is not only is it right, it works best, and we get great blessings out of it. So if we do that as a nation, we are blessed here, but also then we become a blessing to people around the world.
And that’s what we’re restoring through WallBuilders. We’re helping you and your communities to be the catalyst for restoring those biblical values and constitutional principles. Hope that you’ve signed up as one of our Constitution coaches, hosting the classes there in your home or at your church. There’s all kinds of ways that you can be involved, check it out at wallbuilders.com. And we’ll have links there today to all the different things that we’re going to talk about from the things available to you wallbuilders.com and also the things available to you from our special guest today.
Alright, David and Tim, Connor Boyack will be with us a little later, he’s the creator of the Tuttle twins series, started off as a just a few books to entertain kids while teaching them about economics of all things. Can you imagine, teaching economics to kids? Yeah, he found a funny way to do it, but now has a history book out as well. So we’ll have him on to talk about that.
And of course, honestly, guys, WallBuilders blazed the trail on making history interesting. I hated that stuff in high school and college, boring, slept through it, got tired of memorizing dates and names. And then got that wonderful cassette tape, yes, yes, modern, amazing technology from David Barton years ago. And you brought it to life for me, man, you made it fun to learn. And that’s what they’re doing for kids now, what you did for me back in my 20s, making me actually fall in love with history and the stories and why it was important. Love how they’re doing that for kids now, really important.
Yeah, one of the things that Rush Limbaugh said to do with let’s review, it’s a kids’ programs, even the reason that we wrote The American Story, the way we did was trying to make it more palatable. Now The American Story is certainly more like at least a fifth or sixth grade and middle school, but certainly high school or college adult, very palatable. But you’re right. One of the things that’s so lacking is good storytelling that is accurately representing America for the rising generations.
And unfortunately, a lot of what is being told now to kids, and really no more meaning young kids when you’re talking to elementary school and middle school, and really, whether it’s high school or college, nobody’s getting the proper education, so to speak, on the public level with public education, public schools, charter schools, unfortunately, even many Christian schools are just not doing a good job. But there’s not a lot of the textbooks. There’s not a lot of good curriculum.
And one of the questions we get asked so often is, arguably, curriculums are the good things out there. And right now, there’s a lot of things out there for the homeschool world and homeschool community. There are so many people we know in that world and there’s new things coming up fairly frequently. But there’s not as many options of things, again, that are really entertaining that are accurate and honest with the story. Well, right, we’ve seen a few things recently that give us a little bit of hope and optimism that there might be some really good options out there.
I think there are some good options coming in. And I think the getting back to some fundamental principles. And one of the things that I learned from a friend of mine who was in Mexico, he talked about this verse in Ecclesiastes, where he said, God has put eternity in the hearts of men. And he really kind of struggle with that verse, and he said, what really caught him with it was it’s more like God has put eternal truths in the heart of men. And then when you hear something that is true, and you know that it’s true, even if it’s the first time you’ve heard it, it fits in your heart like you’ve always known it your whole life. But it’s really comfortable. It’s not something you struggle with and just can’t get away from It’s like when he hits your heart, you go, yeah, that’s right. That’s a really comfortable fit.
And I think that with history, one of the things that fits our heart and God made us with this is stories. We do really well with stories. I mean even as you get over into like the book of Revelation in the New Testament, it talks about there with Christ at the very end, it said the folks that are with him are those that have overcome. They haven’t been afraid of death. They’ve been courageous. But it also talks about that they have a story, they have a testimony. And a testimony is simply telling the story.
And so it’s been interesting that when you look at the Bible, and so much of what is history in the Bible, it’s just full of stories. It’s full of stories, whether it’s David and Goliath, or whether it’s the shipwreck was Saul or anything else, you really don’t care about the dates or the places or whatever. It’s a story, you really get into the story. And I think God has made us to respond to stories in a way that just hits our heart. And so it doesn’t matter if you’re old or young. I mean, I can hear a story of somebody really young and it hits my heart and then go, wow, that’s really cool. Or a young person can hear a story, someone who’s really old. But if it’s a good story that just hits their heart, and it sticks with them.
And so it’s like it transcends all demographics. It doesn’t matter about your age, and it doesn’t matter about your gender, and it doesn’t matter about your ethnicity. Those stories, you really liked them. And I think that’s what people are starting to capture now and it’s fun to see. We’re not seeing history come back in schools because they’re still doing the dates, names and places stuff, all the facts in those stories. We’re seeing history come back like with The Tuttle Twins, when this thing is really taken off. And, as you said, Rick, you wouldn’t think the economics would be something that would interest people. Well, it’s not the economics. It’s the stories. And if you get economic principles tucked around the stories, you capture the principles and they make a lot of sense.
But the reason you’re swallowing the hook is the bait that’s on the hook and that’s the story. And I think that story thing is starting to come back and that’s what we’re seeing a lot more of. And even if you look at a lot of the bestselling books now, they are storytelling type of books. Even if they’re from history, guys, you know, like the John Adams book was 20 years ago, what was it? It was the story of John Adams rekindle. It wasn’t about all the facts and data. It was just who’s the guy? What’s he like? What was his family life? What’s it like with Abigail and with John Quincy and with others? And those continue to be the things that captivate the minds of the people. And a whole lot of them are not written by academics in history. They’re just written by people who loved history who got into it.
Like you said, Rick, cassettes years ago, all I was doing was telling the stories I found in history that I hadn’t heard. And people get into that. And I think that’s something good about what Connor is doing here is he’s getting back to stories. And it’s getting people not just kids interested, let’s get into all sorts of people interested.
Well, and let’s be honest, I think that’s why the left captured so many hearts that they did over the last couple of generations. They learned how to tell stories. They became entertaining. They took over Hollywood. They became the best storytellers instead of us. And you know, as you talked about a lot, both you guys have talked about Cecil B. DeMille and those early Hollywood guys that told the stories well, we’re able to infuse the culture with good stuff and truth. And once the storytelling became coopted, by the Left, the opposite was true, the lie began to be bought by so many people.
So I just love the fact that anybody from a biblical perspective or conservative perspective, or constitutional perspective is good at storytelling, and gives us these kinds of tools. And I’m hoping that there’s going to be more and more of these as we go along. And so the one we’re talking about today is that The Tuttle Twins, Connor Boyack, the creator is going to be with us when we come back from the break. So stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Hi, friends, this is Tim Barton of WallBuilders. This is a time when most Americans don’t know much about American history or even heroes of the faith. And I know oftentimes we, parents, we’re trying to find good content for our kids to read. And if you remember back to the Bible, to the book of Hebrews, it has the faith Hall of Fame where they outline the leaders of faith that had gone before them. Well, this is something that as Americans, we really want to go back and outline some of these heroes, not just of American history, but heroes of Christianity in our faith as well.
I want to let you know about some biographical sketches we have available on our website. One is called The Courageous Leaders collection. And this collection includes people like Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Scott Key, George Washington Carver, Susanna Wesley, even the Wright brothers. And there’s a second collection called Heroes of History. In this collection, you’ll read about people like Benjamin Franklin or Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Harriet Tubman; friends, the list goes on and on. This is a great collection for your young person to have and read and it’s a providential view of American and Christian history. This is available at www.wallbuilders.com. That’s www.wallbuilders.com.
Welcome back to WallBuilders. Thanks for staying with us today. Great to have Connor Boyack with us. Let me tell you something. Talk about a prolific author, 35 books out there and they’re changing hearts and minds some of the best kids’ books as well. I don’t know how, but somehow he makes economics interesting. That is a miracle within itself. Connor, good to have you on, man. Thanks for being with us.
Hey, appreciate being here. Thanks, Rick.
So probably the one that our listeners are most familiar with is Tuttle Twins, whether they been doing the lap books and reading the books for their kids from the time they were little or having their kids read them or now the amazing series you teamed up with Angel Studios on which I got to see sneak peeks last weekend at the Texas homeschool coalition, the new stuff you’re all are doing. So, just phenomenal, man, a great reach, and again, changing hearts and minds. But doing what, frankly, the schools and civics and education and all that is completely failed that over the last a couple of generations. So thank you, thank you, thank you for what you’re doing. I appreciate your work.
I’m grateful that parents like you and others are recognizing the need for this. It started out selfishly. I was just a dad who wanted to teach my kids these things. I went on Amazon. There was nothing out there that would help me do that. And so a buddy of mine teamed up and we’re like, let’s do a book and we were validated. So many other parents, like, hey, we want that too. We started back in like 2014 and so it really became this effort of like exactly what you said, Rick, schools aren’t teaching this stuff anymore. I want to make sure my kids are well rounded, understand how the world works. And so I was raised to be kind of entrepreneurial and problem-solving, and so really just trying to be that change, we wanted to see and offer to other parents the resources that we wanted for our own kids.
There’s a massive, massive hunger for it. And I could see it in the audience at the Texas homeschool coalition when we were playing some of the sneak peeks on some of the new episodes you got on Tuttle Twins coming out. And I mean, this was a packed house, packed room, just the response ever, the laughter, the cheering. I mean, you would have loved it. And just as like you said, it’s confirmation. The need is out there without a doubt. But you do it in a fun way. It’s not your typical boring stuff. We try to do that with history ourselves. I mean, it’s just, I can’t stand boring history and economics. It makes kids and men frankly, adults tune out instead of tuning in to some of these incredibly important topics and you’ve got a gift for this. So thanks for doing it in the way that you do.
And even folks may be familiar with The Tuttle Twins, this new history book that you’ve got, they may not have heard of yet. So tell us about is this a curriculum? Is it for a particular age? Or just for everybody in the family? What specifically are you targeting here?
So this this book, we’re calling it America’s History, it’s basically like 11 of our Tuttle Twins books in one. It’s 240 pages. It’s all storytelling. So just like our children’s books, we’re taking this complex idea full of different concepts and people and events and all these things. And we’re just telling a story, which is how humans love to learn, especially kids.
And this all started from me. About two and a half years ago, I bought all the different social studies books that are used in most of the schools across the country. I wanted to see how are they teaching about the Constitution, the Revolution, the Bill of Rights, all these things. And I was really depressed reading through these books. They were chock full of interesting, important information. But it was all superficial. It was like on what date did this happen? And who wrote a letter to who? And when did this battle take place? And who won? And these are all like important things to know. But they’re not good ways to teach history.
We’re teaching kids the what of history? But we’re not teaching them the why. These books all failed to teach the ideas. I mean, talk about John Locke, right, and the Judeo-Christian influence on the founders, but Greco Roman, like all these values and ideas were totally absent from these books. So what we’ve come up with is this big storybook where for kids, I would say like 7-13 years old. It’s just a story to read. It’s not a textbook full of little tidbits and things to memorize. It’s a story.
And so we sit down and you can read a chapter by chapter. We’ve got discussion questions. We’re also including along with the book a companion curriculum, so then it’s like, hey, you read this chapter on let’s say the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party and understanding just the tension involved. What that was like for here’s John Adams representing the British or Madison and they’re on the other side. And what would that be like to be there?
And so then with the curriculum, you can do some activities and projects and really get deeper into it. We wanted to give parents a resource, whether they homeschool or their kids are in public school and they just think that they’re not getting true history and good stuff there. Whatever your approach to education is in the family, we wanted to make this as a supplement so that it could be something as simple as just reading together after dinner as a family or it can be giving your kids a little bit of homeschool curriculum and some assignments that they can work there.
So it’s pretty versatile in that way. But it’s two years in the making. And for us, as we’ve kind of concluded this little project, this we feel like is hitting a sweet spot and it’s this. We’ve all heard the quote, those who don’t learn from the past are condemned to repeat it. What I have a firm conviction in now is that social studies curriculum being used in schools is not teaching kids to learn from the past, it is only teaching kids about the past.
And I think that is why we see such strong support for socialism and there’s disregard for the founding generation and their ideas is because we’ve not been teaching the rising generation to learn from the past, apply those classical liberal, important time-tested virtues to our world today. Is it any wonder that we’re so disconnected from them? We’re hoping that our Tuttle Twins history book can be a resource to really bridge that gap, and help families teach these ideas that are so fundamental.
It’s so needed. You nailed so many important points there. I be honest, Connor I hated history in high school and college, was bored to death, slept. It’s like exactly what you described, dates, names, somebody handed me a David Barton cassette tape, I don’t know, in 90 something and all of a sudden, for the first time in my life, it was the story. It’s exactly what you described. I was I was now living the history through the eyes of the people that experienced it. And now I’m liking the movie. I mean, I’m enjoying this story of what happened, and so thankfully fell in love with it then and got every tape, but I’m old. I’m showing how old I am here with the cassette tape, but everything David had.
And it’s been incredible to see how many people have fallen in love with it as a result of the stories. But honestly, I get asked all the time about the kids and it’s been frankly a gap in what we have and something we’ve been missing. So I’m thrilled that you’re putting this out there. Libertas does a great job on this and to do it in the fun entertaining way.
One thing I want to make sure people understand me, this is like a family thing. It’s not just something hand the kids and I mean, this is a time to sit around and enjoy this together and then ask questions and let them talk. I mean, we sometimes I think underestimate their ability to grasp these concepts, don’t you think?
I fully agree with you. And I think here’s where it gets easier for mom and dad. What we’re not looking to do is tell parents, here’s more homework for you, here’s something you got to worry about. But when you’re working with kids on their social studies homework, or their history curriculum, it’s so full of dates and names and events that a lot of parents feel disconnected. They don’t relate to that. They don’t remember it. Then they feel a little ashamed that they forgotten all of that history that they had to cram 30 years ago. And so a lot of parents struggle when it comes to teaching history.
Our book is so different in the sense that not only are we teaching through story, but we are focusing on ideas, those same ideas that the Founding Fathers grappled with the tension between people and their natural rights versus the government and centralized power, and all these things. These are things that are intimately playing out in our lives today, every mother and father can relate to these ideas. Because I mean, for the past two years, we’ve been seeing them in spades of course.
And so suddenly, those family discussions become much deeper and enriched because history is coming alive. We can then learn from the founders and apply the lessons that they learned, the experiences that they had because it’s our own experiences. We can relate to the same types of values and experiences and concepts, not because the circumstances are the same, they’re totally different. But the ideas are very similar. We can relate to them. And so mom and dad now reading our Tuttle Twins, American history book with their kids, they can experience and apply and understand history in a way that they never have before with textbooks because they’re just not structured in a way to facilitate those meaningful conversations that our book is going to try and do.
Let me ask you a strategy question. If you were just stumbling upon all of these tools and resources, what would be your strategy? Or what do you recommend? You start with the Tuttle twins, the cartoons that Angel Studios has done to get the kids attention and then move to the book? Or do you think you can start with? I mean, what would be your best case? Like if somebody said, I’m going to go on the website, I’m getting all this stuff, now how do I implement it? What do you recommend to folks?
Yeah, that’s a great question.
I mean, it’s an unfair question because it’s like, I didn’t give you an age of the kids or anything. So it’s really broad, but generally speaking?
Well, my goal, if I’m being very frank with you is I want to be able to throw mud against the wall and see what sticks. And what I mean by that is like there are kids out there who are more auditory or visual learners or kinesthetic or whatever. And so frankly, what we’re trying to do is almost build a content empire where no matter the age of your kid and no matter how they prefer to learn, we’re going to have something for them. So because every kid and families, I mean, I got a mom the other day He’s like my kids dyslexic. They won’t read anything else. But for some reason they’re reading The Tuttle Twins books, I have no idea why. I don’t know what we put in the book that makes it appealing for a dyslexic kid. We’re just trying to produce as much in a variety of formats.
I mean, we have a podcast, we have the cartoon. We’re just trying to do all kinds of stuff because we know that parents out there like, hey, my kid is different in this way or my kid has this desire. We want to be able, at the end of the day to say, great, we got something for you. You just want to watch cartoons? No problem, here you go. You want something that’s more educationally nourishing? You know, we got something for you too.
Now, we’ve heard for years from our community this struggle of how to teach history for kid. That’s been kind of a recurring theme. And so the hope is with this new book it’s at tuttletwins.com/history, is now families have another resource that they can give kids that they want to be learning these important ideas that are under attack today. The hope is that this can kind of fill that gap for them.
Love it. Man, you’re saying all the things I agree with. One of my frustrations with the regular education system is it ignores the fact that there’s different learning strategies. Just as you mentioned, visual auditory, kinesthetic, digital, I mean, kids are different and we only give them the one method in the typical public school system. And too often in the homeschool community, we can fall into that if we’re not careful. And so having that mindset of hey, yeah, you need to really study your kid, watch how they learn best and have all these options just like you’re talking about such a gift, man.
Connor, thank you, thank you for what you’re doing for just being willing to dig in when you saw this gap in the market and to just keep pushing. I mean, all these different outlets and ways of teaching it and the different learning styles. It’s just awesome. I’m thrilled, glad we had a chance to get you on the program. Hope to have you back soon. And keep us updated on new materials as they come out.
Thank you, Rick. I really appreciate it and appreciate the platform to be able to share what we’re doing with The Tuttle Twins. Thanks again.
And the best website, Tuttletwins.com, is that where they can get to pretty much everything?
Yeah. And if you’re curious about that brand new history book, it’s tuttletwins.com/history is where you can find out all about it.
Alright, we’ll have links to both of those today at wallbuilderslive.com. Thanks to Connor for joining us and telling us all about Tuttle Twins and this new history book that’s coming out as well. Excited to see this get out in the market, guys, and man, exploding like crazy. And of course, we love Vid Angel and Angel studios and what they did with The Chosen, now what they’re doing with Tuttle Twins and bringing that animation to life and super entertaining for the kiddos. And man, they’re doing a lot of new programs. They got that David animated series coming out, and The Wingfeather Saga, just a lot of cool stuff that hopefully, again, will tell stories in a way that reinforces the biblical values and constitutional principles that need to be taught in our culture.
Well, guys, I got a prerelease version of this American History book. And I am only about a third away through it. I really hope over the next week or two to be able to go through it and finish it. It’s been a very busy summer and a lot on the schedule, a lot of traveling, a lot of events. But I mean, guys, in the first state of book I’ve read, I’m generally impressed with what they’re able to do to weave and tell some of the story. So much so I’ll be honest, this kind of reality of the situation, as I was reading part of the story, part of what they said, I thought that’s a better way to tell that part of history than even what I’ve been saying.
So I literally in the summer have started saying some of it a little bit differently based on the way they said it in the book, I was like, that’s a great way to say this. It’s so simple. It’s really profound. It’s almost like embarrassing to admit. But that’s how good it was so far. I am very curious to see what they do going further. They started off with Columbus. But before you know Columbus, we got to back up. And so we’re going to learn about Marco Polo and the trade route over to Asia and how in the midst of the trade route and things like that going really well. And you got the Ottoman Empires, there’s Ottoman Turks in the conflict and so they’re interrupting the trade route. And so now they’re having to have ships and go around and the Italians and what they’re doing with their incredible mariners and they’re making all this money and other nations like we won’t to be part of this. And Columbus is looking for…
Like it just unfolds the story in such a smooth, easy manner and it does it through the eyes of two young people that are more or less being personally mentored by a neighbor, by a friend. And he’s helping coach them and teach them and they’re doing hands on examples. It was something that, I mean, I can say as a nearly 40 year old, it entertained me. I would think it would be very entertaining for kids as well. Certainly, it’s written for kids.
But even as an adult reading it, it was such a good smooth, flowing story. And as he mentioned, they have some discussion questions at the end. And the way the book is written is not focusing on the details, it’s focusing on the big picture overarching theme. And so it doesn’t tell you the exact day or the exact month or the exact moments some of these things happen. It’s more about learning the overarching story, the overarching theme, which is really what we should be emphasizing for the rising generation. What is the story? What’s the lesson to be learned from the story?
So I will definitely try to finish this and we might even have a follow up once this is done, where we can get into some more details about how they handle the Founding Fathers and some of the colonies in the Constitution. And hopefully, they do just as good of a job as they’ve done to this point with the story of Columbus and moving forward to Plymouth and Jamestown.
But guys, to this point, I’m genuinely impressed. And actually, it’s even helped me tell some of the stories even better than I’m already telling. So I’m very anxious to get to the rest of this book.
Alright, folks, Tuttletwins.com is the website to go to. Tuttletwins.com if you want to get some of the books, if you want to be able to dial in and get the videos, just a lot of great material there and fantastic ways to teach your kids and to make it fun. As Tim was saying, you know, it’s entertaining, and there’s creative ways to be able to teach and it’s part of what we do here at WallBuilders. And most of our material is middle school and up probably I think that’s part of why I’m excited about Tuttle Twins and what they’re doing. They’re filling a gap there with the younger kids, and it’s desperately needed.
So check that out today at Tuttletwins.com and I bit you’ll have fun learning as well. I’ve always found that when I find something like this for the kids or the grandkids that I have fun learning with him as well. That’s sort of the way we created Chasing American Legends, our history mystery program, where we take comedian Brad Stein and go to all these historical sites and investigate history’s mysteries, but we make it fun and entertaining for all ages. That is vital. You got to entertain in this entertainment world that we’re in while you’re educating and equipping and inspiring.
Thanks so much for listening today. We should appreciate you joining us here on WallBuilders Live.
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