Children's Toy & Media Reviews Since 1978

Reciting History

In sixth grade, my fellow classmates and I had to commit to memory the prelude to the Canterbury Tales—in Middle English. It seemed like a futile and pointless assignment, yet I remember and treasure it to this day.

To honor the 150th anniversary (seven score and ten years) of the Gettysburg Address, there is a national effort to get everyone to learn Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech. Don’t worry if you missed the actual anniversary (November 19). Folks will commemorate this historic speech all year. After all, one of the great things about history is that it is never too late to learn about it.  USA Today has some little known facts about the Gettysburg Address, one of the world’s best-remembered speeches.

At just 271 words, the speech takes about two minutes and is a crucial part of American history. Filmmaker Ken Burns will premiere the documentary, “The Address” on PBS in 2014. Before it airs, he and several partners are encouraging all Americans to learn the address and record themselves reciting the speech.  The inspiration sprang from a small boys’ school in Putney, Vermont, which includes learning the address as part of the curriculum.

Why not make it a family project and get your kids to direct your efforts? Will you learn the Gettysburg Address? Do you already know it by heart?