I love the first text you see on the Horrible Histories website, it says; “This is the point of no return! Your thirst for gore has led you to the Horrible Histories® website. Here you’ll find nasty nuggets and foul facts aplenty. If you lose your way in the labyrinth of long-ago just ask the rat…”
I adored these books as a child and still collect them, they gave me my love of history, a topic which still interests me to this very day, and I hope to pass them on to my children in the future. I couldn´t possibily pick a favourite, although I have always loved World War history! Other books that got re-read hundreds of times include Awesome Egyptians, Vile/Villainous Victorians, Vicious Vikings and Terrifying Tudors. I think I own the whole set of Horrible Histories but I´m still missing a few Horrible Science and most of the Horrible Geography section and I make a point of looking for them when I go to any type of bookstore.
The HH books are mostly written by Terry Deary, a man who feels that the current educational system needs to be changed. He once said “I’ve no interest in schools, they have no relevance in the 21st century. They were a Victorian idea to get kids off the street. Who decided that putting 30 kids with only their age in common in a classroom with one teacher was the best way of educating? At my school there were 52 kids in the class and all I learned was how to pass the 11-plus. Everything I learned after 11 was a waste of time. Trigonometry, Boyle’s law: it’s never been of any use to me. They should have been teaching me the life skills I was going to need, such as building relationships, parenting and managing money. I didn’t have a clue about any of these things at 18. Schools need to change.” I got my appetite for history from him and retained most of what I learned reading his series of books, that´s more than what can be said for what I learnt in history classes at school, so I think he has a point!
He also said that children should leave school after learning the basics at 11/12 and start working ‘with computers or something relevant’. While I don´t totally agree with this, I do see where he´s coming from and agree that children should be taught life skills, house and money management, and aptitudes such as marketing, computer skills and communication that will help and inspire them to start their own businesses or pick a career that suits them as well as ordinary classes. I think children needs to be surrounded by others of their age but what they are taught and how they are divided up should be changed.
Sadly, in 2011, Terry retired after writing most of the more than 60 titles in the series, which have sold over 25 million copies in over 30 languages. I should imagine that Scholastic will continue publishing with other authors, the HH spin-off (the Horrible Science books) are still being published to date, Nick Arnold writes the majority of these. In the same way as the HH series, the Horrible Science books are also a fantastic way to get young kids interested in science.
So, who´s read these books? Do you agree with Terry´s viewpoint on schooling today? I´d love to hear from you 🙂