I love anything and everything to do with History. My favorite era was The Civil War, but that was until I discovered Stephanie Bearce and her book Top Secret Files: The Cold War: Secrets, Special Missions, & Hidden Facts about the CIA, KGB, AND MI6. Of course the talented Stephanie Bearce is a teacher turned writer and has covered other top history eras. Some of her other titles include The American Revolution, World War I, World War II, Pirates and Buried Treasure, and The Civil War (All within the Top Secret Files series).
These books are great to encourage your child’s love of history, make a tough subject fun, or to give a little extra boost in his or her studies. Not only are they learning incredible information they might not get in school, but some are joined in with activities you can do together. For example in Top Secret Files: The Cold War: Secrets, Special Missions, & Hidden Facts about the CIA, KGB, AND MI6, Stephanie Bearce talks about The Venona Code and allows the reader to attempt making their own code to share with a friend.
I really enjoyed reading Top Secret Files: The Cold War: Secrets, Special Missions, & Hidden Facts about the CIA, KGB, AND MI6, so I couldn’t miss a chance to interview Stephanie Bearce.
Talking with Stephanie Bearce
Kim Haueter: What started your love for history?
Stephanie Bearce: Seashells in the middle of Kansas. As a farm kid I was fascinated with the fossilized shells that I found in the creeks and streams. It was amazing to think that the place where I rode horses was once covered by ocean. By the time I was ten I had an amazing fossil collection and a curiosity about all things old and ancient. My life would have been complete if I could have just found a dinosaur skull. I’m still looking.
KH: What inspired you to write the Secrets and Spies books?
SB: What could be cooler than a secret agent? Poison darts, truth serums, umbrella guns, and it’s all true! Hollywood can’t write stories as good as the real lives and adventures of the Cold War spies. And believe me – they’ve tried!
KH: What was your favorite part about writing Secrets, Special Missions, & Hidden Facts About the CIA, KGB, and MI6?
SB: Visiting The Cold War Museum in Berlin and seeing Check Point Charlie in person. I got to see parts of the Berlin Wall, cars that were used to smuggle out refugees, and a handmade ultralight escape plane.
KH: What is your favorite point in history?
SB: It changes as I research and learn about different time periods. Currently I am fascinated by the roaring twenties, but I always have a soft spot for cowboys and the Wild West.
KH: Was there any interesting information you found while writing about the Cold War that you didn’t put in your book?
SB: Some of the testing that was done on animals and humans was very disturbing. For example Grizzly and Black Bears were used to test the ejector seats on supersonic jets.
KH: I love the activities woven in through the book. Are these activities you use to do with your own students as a teacher?
SB: Yes, I love doing hands-on projects with kids. It really helps cement the lesson in their memory. Plus it’s just plain fun.
KH: There are wide ranges of history lovers and that falls into all different age groups. Was there a reason you choose the 9-12 as your demographic?
SB: As a teacher I always felt that if I could get children interested in reading and history when they were in fourth and fifth grade, they would be hooked for life. I wanted to write books that would make kids understand that the truth really is more amazing than fiction. And actual super heroes are people with real lives and incredible stories.
KH: Do you have a favorite activity to do with kids from The Cold War: Secrets, Special Missions, Hidden Facts about the CIA, KGB, and MI6?
SB: I really had fun making the cup rockets and launching them with kids, but we also had fun mixing up a bunch of glaciers!