Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Book Inspiration for Toni B. Rhodes, The Writing On the Walls

Book Inspiration for Toni B. Rhodes, The Writing On The Walls

For as long as I can remember history has been my passion. I love trying to imagine how people lived in the past -- what they thought, how they dressed, what they ate, how they lived their lives on a day-to-day basis. When I started writing educational materials about 20 years ago, I was naturally drawn to writing about history and social studies. Unfortunately, history is the least liked subject for most students, so I've tried to find unique ways of approaching the study of history.

For 11 years I worked at Emory University, and one day I found myself in the dusty, subterranean Theology Library. (I can't remember why I was there.) I stumbled upon a book titled Medieval English Graffiti. I was immediately fascinated by the 200 rubbings of medieval graffiti taken from English churches by a woman named Violet Pritchard. Apparently, people scrawled writing and pictures on the walls of their churches quite frequently. That was a surprise to me!

The idea for an educational activity book started percolating in my imagination. Studying medieval and ancient graffiti could be a way to get kids interested in history! Well, after ten years of starts and stops, my book The Writing on the Walls: Discovering Medieval and Ancient Graffiti will be published in May this year (2015) by Prufrock Press.The book is intended for grades 6 - 8 to supplement the study of the cultures of medieval England, ancient Pompeii (Roman Empire), and ancient Athens (Greece). 


My love of history goes back to my dad, who was an artist and amateur historian. On family vacations we had to stop and read every historical marker and tramp across every Civil War battle field. We visited Colonial Williamsburg and most of the Indian mounds in Pinellas County, Florida, where I grew up. As a child, I don't think I was too happy about our family explorations, but as the years passed, the love of history slowly began to rub off on me. When I became a teenager and learned to cook, I made my dad "Jailhouse Chili" -- supposedly a recreation of the spicy hot dish served to prisoners in the Wild, Wild West. My dad loved it, even though it gave him heartburn for a week, but I don't think my mom was excited about having to buy all those hard-to-find and unhealthy ingredients.
After getting a Master's Degree in education and teaching for ten years, I started writing educational materials. Guess what subject I chose to write about -- history! (and social studies, too).

Visit Toni B. Rhodes' website to read more about Toni and her books. 

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