‘Across an Open Field’, the first history book written and illustrated by children from Ireland and Northern Ireland, was launched at Holy Rosary Primary School, Belfast on 23rd January 2017. Twenty-five children from the school took part in a two-year project led by Kids’ Own and funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund.
One of the areas of interest for the children at Holy Rosary PS was World War I. As Robert Stelges and Zak Stuart from P4 recount: ‘We found out that animals wore gas masks on the front lines because there were poison gases from bombs, and smoke from lighting the bombs. Donkeys, horses and dogs all wore gas masks because they didn’t want them to die. They used the animals to carry the heavy weapons and protect them. Birds were used to carry messages, like doves and pigeons.’
The children also explored the social history of the time, from new methods of transportation to the craze for ginger beer, with Louis Murray from P4 even recreating the original ginger beer recipe: ‘Everyone loved having a taste from long ago.’
‘The pioneering methods of Kids’ Own forge a rich environment where creativity is nurtured and developed. When children are placed in this type of environment they never cease to amaze us. They shine with their ability to think for themselves, to solve problems and to notice something that we would never think of. The depth and breadth of the learning that the children are experiencing is tangible. This is education at its best.’ – Marie O’Donoghue of the Education Authority, Northern Ireland
‘We hope this publication offers a stimulus for continued dialogue and learning, and inspires children everywhere to have a deeper connection with our history and our culture.’ – Orla Kenny, Director of Kids’ Own
‘Across an Open Field’ is now available to buy from the Kids’ Own bookshop for €12 / £10:
‘Across an Open Field’ is published by Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership in association with Kilkenny Education Centre (representing the Association of Teacher Education Centres in Ireland) and the Education Authority, Northern Ireland. The book was created by children aged 8-12 from schools in Belfast, Down, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, Monaghan and Tyrone. The children’s historical research is documented on a dedicated website which includes case studies and videos capturing their voices and perspectives: 100yearhistory.com