He did not want to learn about medieval history.
So I did what any good parent does and tricked him into it.
(Available at the T of L gift shop. Or HERE.)
Two years ago, I bought a slightly gory moving model at the Tower of London and I've been waiting for the right moment to build it ever since.
Summer camp is over. He's all mine until fifth grade starts next week. It's now or never.
So I took out the kit and opened it up and started slicing out figures with an Exacto knife and eventually he wandered back into the kitchen.
Luca: What are you doing?
Me: I'm going to chop someone's head off.
Luca: Can I help?
For almost two hours, we cut and folded and glued the pieces together. And I told him about castles and dungeons and chamber pots and rats and every other grisly detail I remember being fascinated by at his age.
I told him about King Henry VIII and all of his six wives (in order) -- Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr.
Me: You know an easy way of remembering what happened to each of them?
Me: Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived. It rhymes.
When the time came, I accorded him the responsibility of letting the axe fall.
And then came the sentence it would have been impossible to imagine him uttering a few short hours before:
Luca: Where's that book you were talking about earlier?
Moral of the story:
1. Don't whisper if you can shout.
An opening hook can be a huge draw. What can you do to immediately grab someone's attention?
2. Don't be general if you can be specific.
Know your audience. (A ten-year-old boy is a very particular animal.) Make your story relevant to their world view (i.e. dungeons and rats and chamber pots).
3. Don't recite a list of facts if you can spin a tale instead.
Make it real. Make it relevant. Make it riveting.
4. Don't talk if you can listen.
Leave lots of space for questions. The more they ask, the more interested you know they are.