“Historic Footprints: A Picture Book for Young Readers,” by part-time Summit County resident and historian Sandra Mather, was born from a conversation between the author and KrisAnn Knish, then assistant to the director of the Frisco Historic Park & Museum.
“She looked at me and said, ‘you know what we don’t have is a book for kids,’” Mather said. “And I thought, ‘you know, you’re right.’ So I started thinking about this thing.”
Knish began collecting kid-friendly photos from the Frisco museum archives and the Summit Historical Society, and Mather started putting the book together, drawing from her 12 years as a second-grade teacher to make sure the language was appropriate for children.
“It’s something for kids to get them interested in the history of Summit County,” Mather said. “You have to look for pictures that kids would understand. They love the pictures on pages 74 and 75, the two train wrecks, especially the boys, they love it because the trains are on their sides. So you just think, would kids like these photographs, would kids relate to these photographs?”
The stories grew from the photos, with each chapter or section encouraging little readers to further pursue the topics by visiting local historical museums in Frisco, Breckenridge and Dillon or finding answers on the Internet.
“Then we needed a cover,” Mather said. “One day, I walked into the Frisco museum and KrisAnn had the photo there on the computer. She said, ‘how about this for a cover?’ She found that among the photographs that Frisco has. It’s a true collaboration between Frisco and the Summit Historical Society; both organizations were involved from the very beginning.”
MEET THE AUTHOR
To celebrate the collaboration and the completed book, the Frisco Historic Park & Museum is hosting a Meet the Author event on Friday, Aug. 29, where Mather will dress in period clothing and speak to children in attendance about local history.
“I thought I would have the book and have some of the pictures open,” Mather said, adding that she would interact with the children by asking questions relating their lives to the lives of the kids in the book. “When you go to school, what do you do in school? What do you think these children did? How do you suppose they got there, what did they do at recess, what do you think they studied?”
“Sandie will be seated up front in that kind of little open area, and she’ll be there to sign books, answer questions and, depending on participation, she may do a couple of readings from her book and show the photographs to the kids,” said Simone Belz, director of the museum. “We’ll be serving cupcakes and lemonade and coffee.”
Belz said the Night at the Museum event is also an opportunity for people who work during the day to experience the museum outside of regular operating hours.
“It’s a nice wrap-up and thank you to the community for a successful summer season,” Belz said. “Some people can’t come to the museum during regular hours; that’s why we offer these Night at the Museum events. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet the author and see this book we collaborated on with the Summit Historical Society, the first true children’s book specific to the history of Summit County.”
SHARING WITH COMMUNITY
To further share her book with the community, Mather sent eight copies to the Summit School District to distribute to local elementary schools. This is in addition to the two copies that were donated by the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance to Upper Blue and Breckenridge elementary schools earlier this summer. Mather said it’s important for local kids to learn about what happened in the county before they were born.
“They see what’s here now, they see skiing, snowboarding, biking in the summer, activities out on the water, but at that age, yesterday is history to them,” Mather said. “They’re 10 years old, they don’t understand 20 years ago, 30 years ago, let alone 120 or 130 years ago.”
Mather said “Historic Footprints” helps get kids interested in learning about how their grandparents and great-grandparents lived when they were children in Summit County. Julie McCluskie, director of communications for the school district, said the books were a welcome addition to the school libraries.
“We’re so grateful for the donation and something that connects kids to the community in a more educational way,” McCluskie said.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet the author and see this book we collaborated on with the Summit Historical Society, the first true children’s book specific to the history of Summit County.”
director of the museum