Dan Bova on His Middle Grade Nonfiction Book 'This Day in History For Kids'

In an interview with SLJ, Dan Bova, author of The HISTORY Channel This Day in History For Kids shares details about creating the book, along with his favorite fact in the volume and why he wears a football helmet while binge-watching Netflix.

The HISTORY Channel This Day in History For Kids is out now from Hearst Home Kids. In an interview with SLJ, author Dan Bova shares details about creating the book, along with his favorite fact in the volume and why he wears a football helmet while binge-watching Netflix.

School Library Journal: Can you talk about the research process for this book?

Dan Bova: My mother is a retired librarian, so you can say that research is in my DNA! I started off by digging into History.com’s amazing digital archives. They have such great stuff, heavily researched and vetted (this might not come as a shock but there is a lot of very WRONG information floating out there on the internet!). I also used a lot of other trusted sources such as some Hearst magazines and a bunch of good old-fashioned books, which gave me a great excuse to pull some favorites off the shelf from authors like David McCullough and Doris Kearns Goodwin. 

SLJ: How did you decide on the format? Why do you think this works best?

DB: A lot of famous dates are ingrained in our brains, like July 4th or December 7th. What I found so wild is that so many days had several major milestones occur on them. Like, I just randomly flipped to September 27th, and on that day in 1908, the first Model T was assembled. In 1922, the first 3D movie was released, and in 2022, NASA hit a distant asteroid with a spacecraft, proving that they can prevent a giant space rock from smacking into the Earth. That all happened decades apart—on the same day!

I love that this format brings together facts on all types of topics, from major battles to the invention of nachos. It’s impossible to get bored, because there are just so many different types of events jumping off every page. 

SLJ: What is your favorite moment and/or fact in the book?

DB: Well, there are so many amazing and important moments I learned about while researching and writing this book, so I’ll be a little egocentric and admit that I was delighted to learn that Jesse James carried out his first bank robbery on my birthday, February 13th. I don’t know what that says about me, but it made me smile.

SLJ: What was the most surprising fact to learn?

DB: That is a tough one. On November 30, 1954, a woman named Ann Hodges was sitting on her couch when a nine-pound meteorite crashed through her ceiling, bounced off her radio, and hit her on the leg. She’s the first—and only—person known to get hit by a space rock. This is why I now wear a football helmet while binge-watching Netflix.

SLJ: Why do you think it’s important for kids to know history?

DB: There’s the old saying, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it,” which is vitally important for obvious reasons. But history isn’t just about wars and killer volcanoes. People do amazing things! One day there wasn’t such a thing as an automobile, then one day there was. One day there wasn’t penicillin, then one day there was. And—gasp!—one day there wasn’t s’mores, and then blessedly, the next day there was! Hopefully reading about ordinary people doing extraordinary things will get kids fired up and inspired to make their own mark on the world.  

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