How Do You Teach Your Children About New York City History?

Editor’s Note: The NYC Dads Group are big on taking excursions all across New York City with our children.  Often times we need to build background knowledge on historic people and places so we were thrilled to have the opportunity to review a new book to assist with that goal – New York City History for Kids.  Below is Adam Gertsacov’s guest post review:

Living in the NYC area, we are awash with history.  From the top of the Hudson River to the mouth of Coney Island to the Long Island sound, many thousands  have trod these grounds (which started as mostly forest, swamp, and pastures) and has turned into cement, streets, and underground tunnels, not to mention famous buildings, beautiful parks, art museums, mansions,

And the people!  Con men, politicians, athletes, financiers, abolitionists, explorers, artists, and actors not to mention just ordinary everyday people like subway conductors, mailmen, housewives, and even hoboes.  All of them have made contributions large and small to the city.

A great introduction to both the historic people and places of our fair city is this recent book by Richard Panchyk, New York City History for Kids.  Panchyck is a New York based author who’s written over 23 books, most focusing on history or historical interest.

This one is a richly illustrated volume that gives a lot of detail in a kid-friendly way about the things that have made New York City the mecca that it is, both the places and the people.  You’ll learn lots of interesting facts and some surprising ones as well. And as you walk around your own stomping grounds, you’ll get a great sense of who came before you.

Sample page of the book.

In addition to the well-told stories of times and places and people gone by, the book also contains a timeline of important historical events, a list of historic sites to visit or explore online, and web and print resources for further study and exploration.  It makes it a great book to enrich a classroom, to give as a gift to a curious 9 year old native or visitor, or even to serve as a basic textbook for a homeschooler.

Perhaps more importantly, it also gives you a great set of activities to do with your kids to help make the history real for them.  From making samp porridge, one of the first American fusion foods (the Dutch modified a Native American recipe) to learning to play stickball (the official street sport of NY Children of the 1920’s-1970’s) to making a cardboard replica of Port Amsterdam, these activities will give you and your kids some fun things to do as you explore the city.  There are over 21 activities to choose from, and while you might not choose to do EVERYone, there’s certainly enough to get your kids mind (and stomach) racing.

The book is not designed for very young kids (the cover says ages 9 and up), although many of the activities could be made appropriate for a younger set as well.

Find out more about Panchyck on his website
Buy this book on Amazon:  New York City History for Kids.

Adam Gertsacov is an actor, clown, director, and fulltime dad. He wears a lot of hats, including those of a flea circus impresario, a PT Barnum impersonator, a published author, and the esteemed hat of the Clown Laureate of Greenbelt Maryland. He blogs at , , and now with the NYC Dads Group. He and his wife are the founders of the Digital Family Summit, a first-of-its-kind annual conference where teens, tweens and their parents connect to learn how to live as a family in the digital world. Find out more at


  1. says

    Thanks Adam for writing this. We love venturing out into the city to check out various historical places. We’ve even toured Hamilton Grange. You’ve convinced me to buy this book.

  2. says

    New York has such a rich history and really is a great place to explore and teach you children! Thanks for posting this Adam. I also think it is fun to go out on the town as a couple and a day camp for kids is a great tool to get out just once in a while to see the city.

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