Dear Tom Hanks,
I read the cover story, "History Maker," about you in this week's issue of Time Magazine. About that cover photo: Gosh, you look really concerned. Or is it just gas?
Anyway, I've always -- meaning, for the last several years -- thought it was really cool that instead of just gracing the screen with your amazing comedic/dramatic presence in everything from Philadelphia to Forrest Gump to You've Got Mail, you seem to have a voraciously curious mind at work on projects of intellectual substance. Do you ever feel a bit alone in Hollywood?
So in this article, after telling us how bored you were with history during your schooling years, your profiler makes the following statement: "What differentiates Hanks from academic past masters is his conviction that the historical experience should be personal."
Well, you can get an Amen here! Here in our home school, we are all about making the historical experience personal. That's why we're currently using Sonlight -- we love the emphasis on historical fiction. Sure, we could read a sentence like "The Civil War was particularly terrible for our young nation because it pitted brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, often for causes they weren't entirely sure of," in a textbook. But why not read books like Across Five Aprils or The Perilous Road instead and understand those feelings at a gut level, the way our flawed-yet-heroic protagonists do? And so we do.
And that's why we've amassed a collection of Greathall CD's for the car, or the Story of the World CD's, which capture my kids' attention and, I suspect, tend to spoil them for my own voice. Let it not be said in this household that history is boring.
So, you and I, Tom, we're simpatico in our approach to history. In fact, I think you'd make a great home educator! Are you free some Friday soon to guest star in my co-op class?
But. I do have a small bone to pick with you. I loved Band of Brothers
-- a perfect example of making history personal. And John Adamswas also quite good. And I was happily working my way through From the Earth to the Moon - The Signature Editionuntil I decided to let the kids watch the fourth episode with me while I ironed some clothes one day (FYI, ironing is the way mortals like us get wrinkles out of clothes. You use this hot metal thingie, and it's kind of rare around here). Hot diggety dog, the language in that episode could make a sailor blush! I had to turn it off halfway through!
I know, I know -- HBO. And Band of Brothers is pretty salty as well. But for the sake of all of us parents moving heaven and earth to make history come alive for our kids, couldn't you come up with some expurgated version we could show during afternoon teatime? I'm thinking a landing on Normandy, punctuated with "Great Scott!" and "Oh, snap! My parachute's not opening!"
Please. Do it for the children.