Reviews /

Talking History

Authored by Joan Haig and Joan Lennon
Illustrated by André Ducci
Published by Templar Publishing

Talking History is a book born from childhood memories of a teacher. Haig and Lennon bring into being a beautifully illustrated book, delving into the history of speeches and how they have shaped society through time. It explores 16 carefully chosen speeches from around the world, addressing a variety of issues such as politics, human rights, and global warming – all focused on one thing: the need for change.

The book is organised into chapters which include a key speech from the past and the story of the speaker. Alongside the speech, there is further information that elaborated on the speakers’ message and about the language chosen.

Although the book is written in chronological order starting with ‘The Gettysburg Address’ by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 and ending with ‘Our House is on Fire’ by Gretta Thunberg in 2019, it can be read in any order, enabling children (and adults) to be led by curiosity, interest, or topic of study. The book is organised so that you can also dip into it depending on the theme you want to explore. At the end of each chapter, there are signposts to other speeches that are linked by a theme. In the chapter on the Gettysburg Address, one can lean more about divided countries by moving to a speech by Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and ‘A Talk About Women’. Haig and Lennon have considered their audience well, giving options on how the book can be read and leading their readers on thematic journey of social change. The glossary at the back of the book helps readers to understand new terminology and provides further information about some of the concepts outlined within the chapters.

The illustrations are vibrant and captivating. They work well with the content of the book, bringing the chapters to life. The matt paper and the choice of rich colours adds to the special and luxurious feel of this book.

This is a book worthy of shelf space in any school library or class bookshelf.

It is worth noting that the fonts within a chapter different in size and style make it a bit more challenging to read.