History Bee Comes To Long Island

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Allison Walker’s fifth grade class gathers around a collection of their favorite Who Was? books. Her students—in Michigan—are also participating in The Who Was? History Bee. (Photo courtesy of Allison Walker)

If you’ve got kids or grandkids in elementary school, you will likely know of The Who Was? book series. With more than 45 million books in print worldwide, it’s the No. 1 nonfiction series for kids in grades third to fifth. The books tell the incredible stories of trailblazers, legends, innovators, cool places and important events.

Now, classes from six Long Island schools—West End School in Lynbrook, Waverly Park School in East Rockaway, Robbins Lane School in Syosset, James H. Boyd Elementary School in Huntington, Covert Avenue Elementary School in Elmont and Hebrew Academy of Nassau County (HANC) in Plainview—are participating in The Who Was? History Bee, a brand-new trivia competition that promises to bring history to life with a fierce and family-friendly competition.

Author Jeff Kinney
(Photo courtesy Filip Wolak)

“I have been collecting this series for years, and it’s the best biography series I’ve seen for young people in a while,” Frances Goldberg, a librarian at HANC, said. “As a librarian and reluctant nonfiction reader myself, I started with Milton Bradley, saw how easy the book was to get through and went through a lot of the people, ranging from Lucille Ball to Pete Seeger to Chuck Jones. Last year, a few specific fourth graders weren’t really into reading and their ELA teacher suggested The Who Was? series. They were hooked, and then they found the series in my library. They have made it ‘the cool thing’ to read.”

So far, there are 25,000 kids signed up across the country. In May 2020, 10 finalists from the competing schools will meet at The Who Was? History Bee event in New York City where they will compete for chance to win a $10,000 college scholarship, and for their school to win a library of 200-plus Who Was? books. The event will be hosted by brothers Jeff Kinney, author of the bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and Patrick Kinney, author of Who is Jeff Kinney?, as well as the adventure novel, Lunar Colony.

“With our rapidly changing news cycle, understanding history is a vital tool for all of us to have,” Penguin Workshop Publisher Francesco Sedita said. “It’s our hope that The Who Was? History Bee gives students across the country a chance to dive into the past and learn about figures and events that helped shape the world we live in. The bee encourages kids to learn in a fun and engaging way, and, potentially, represent their schools at the national level.”

Registration is open, and schools can go to www.WhoWasHistoryBee.com to sign
up their classes by Dec. 10.

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