New book teaches colonial history through the eyes of a child

Published 7:26 pm Tuesday, November 20, 2018

At heart, Eileen Lettick remains a teacher.

Although she has retired from the classroom, her lifelong passion for educating young minds shines through in her new book, “Sarah the Bold.”

Weaving the tale of an 11-year-old African-American girl who finds herself magically transported from the 21st-century to Colonial New England, “Sarah the Bold” is as much an educational tool as it is a literary experience.

The idea for the book came to Lettick when she was teaching third grade social studies. As old textbooks became outdated, she and her fellow teachers found a number of resources for teaching Colonial American history, but few that could tell the story in a comprehensive fashion.

“I thought it would be nice to have a book that really drew everything together,” Lettick said. “It seemed a little bit fragmented, so I wanted to develop a book myself because I couldn’t find one out there. So I decided to start writing.”

For two and a half years, she woke up at 5:30 a.m. to work on her book before school. Throughout the process of creating that first draft, she brought her work with her to class, sharing it with her students as they read their own writings.

“We would critique each other, and to this day, I think it was the most powerful, most authentic writing lesson my children ever had,” Lettick said. “Seeing their teacher being vulnerable, taking risks and asking, ‘What if?’”

Tweaking it over the years, when she retired, Lettick put “Sarah the Bold” on a shelf. A few years ago, she revisited the text and began polishing it and workshopping her manuscript with the help of various writers’ groups, including the Pamlico Writers Group and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. After years in the making, the book was released this year.

With the release of “Sarah the Bold,” Lettick hopes that teachers will see her book as a tool for teaching a historical period that may seem foreign to today’s students. By casting her protagonist as an African-American girl, Lettick says her book opens the door for students to discuss the racial dynamics of the Colonial period.

“I want to see this as a teaching tool, so I’m going to hand-deliver a copy to every elementary and middle school in Beaufort County,” Lettick said. “I also want to offer it to libraries as well.”

In addition to a compelling story, “Sarah the Bold” contains a glossary of terms and discussion questions that can be integrated into lesson planning. Ultimately, Lettick said her goal is to get her book into the hands of young people and perhaps make appearances at schools to discuss the book and the history it entails.

At 7 p.m. on Dec. 7, Lettick will be selling and signing copies of her new book during a reception at The Contemporary Art Exchange in Washington. Copies are available wherever books are sold. More information about Lettick and her work, as well as the means to contact her, can be found at