Civil War Courier Article on Young Heroes of History by Alan N. Kay

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Press Room:  Civil War Courier Article 

Noted Teacher Writes CW Series for Teens

By Tish Osborne
The Civil War Courier -
(reprinted with permission)

A Florida high school History teacher has put together a series of books for teen-agers about the Civil War that's bound to awaken interest.
The series is called Young Heroes of History and the author is Alan N. Kay, Florida's History Day Teacher of the Year for 2001.

"My series is designed to get teens excited about history and to present the war's information in an easy to understand, unbiased way," Kay explained. "Each story is self-contained, with a specific plot, characters and climax that make it an exciting adventure all on its own."

The series of 10 books follows one family from pre-Civil War through battles like Fredericksburg, Antietam, Gettysburg and Sherman’s March to the Sea to Lincoln's assassination and Reconstruction.

Kay said each book deals with a different family member and sometimes they bring in friends of the family, as in Book 7 where we read about a free black who has joined the army.
The series follows the family of three Irish brothers, who in 1846, leave their homes and immigrate to America. They marry and have children. These children are the main characters in the books.

"There are over 10 children of various ages in our series. This allows us to maintain the main character’s age as similar to the reader even though we are covering almost a 10-year period," Kay explained.

In the two pre-civil war books "Send ‘Em South" and "On the Trail of John Brown’s Body," slavery and the North-South antagonisms affect the older boys. By the time the Civil War begins, the family splits in two just like the nation. This allows us to look at the war from both sides.

Books Three through Eight relate what it is like for a kid who joins the army in both the North and in the South, how civilians are affected, the role of blacks both slave and free, the medical practices and problems. This part of the series recounts some of the primary battles.
"We end the series with a look at how the South has suffered and their attitudes in defeat," Kay said. "Books nine and ten deal with the assassination of Lincoln, the reconstruction period and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan.

"Even if they only read one book, they will have a better understanding of what is going on because the background behind the characters helps fuel everything that is done," he added.
Kay picked the Civil War because he believes it contains all elements of history in one time period. "Any possible story that can be imagined of tragedy, heroism, love, devotion, success or failure can be seen in the Civil War," he said.

He said the war defines the national character even today when it explores the "reach" of the Federal government in light of actions like Timothy McVeigh's bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building. "That showed just how strongly some people still feel about this issue," he said.

Also, Kay said, "This time period was the climax of race antagonisms.  African Americans, Indians, Chinese and all other non-white groups were second class citizens or slaves. Our country began a slow and agonizing process towards equality and justice for all."

The book series is published by White Mane Kids, new to children's' books but a major distributor. The series is available through all major bookstores, from and at Kay's web site,

Kay is very active with the National History Day program, a type of "science-fair" where student develop projects on an assigned topic in history. Kay founded two different programs in Central Florida. After receiving the state award, Kay became one of eight finalists for National History Day Teacher of the Year.
The Daughters of the American Revolution also named Kay Florida's American History Teacher of the Year in April.
He has a master's degree in education and is a graduate of Brandeis University. He has been teaching middle and high school students History for 10 years. He and his wife, Heidi, have three children.