Callista Gingrich on Mission to Educate Kids About American History
September 26, 2011
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: While presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is campaigning hard to take down the president in 2012, his wife Callista is trying to educate our kids about American history. She’s the author of the brand new book, “Sweet Land of Liberty.”
Callista, good to see you. Welcome back.
CALLISTA GINGRICH, AUTHOR “SWEET LAND OF LIBERTY”: Hi, Sean. Thank you for having me.
HANNITY: How are you liking this presidential campaign stuff?
GINGRICH: It’s been great experience. We’re meeting a lot of wonderful people and learning a lot across the country.
HANNITY: You know, it’s amazing. First of all, your book is number five on Amazon for kids books already. It’s just out tomorrow.
GINGRICH: Today is our first day.
HANNITY: Lynn Cheney’s books were massive sellers.
HANNITY: This is what stuns me. The majority of fourth graders cannot identify why the pilgrims left England. Most fourth graders cannot say why Abraham Lincoln is an important figure in U.S. history and only 18 percent of eight graders are considered proficient on questions of American history.
GINGRICH: That’s right. We have a lot of work to do. About two generations ago, our country stopped teaching American history, so we have to go back to the basics. And this book is meant to be an introduction of our pivotal moments of history for young children ages 4 to 8. So they can appreciate the beauty of this nation and understand why we’re so special. They can also understand the qualities that have made us a great nation.
HANNITY: You know, if you don’t understand the basics, no wonder why some kids grow up and they have these professors that indoctrinate them.
GINGRICH: That’s right.
HANNITY: You know, they don’t believe in American exceptionalism. So you created this character — by the way, the illustration is phenomenal.
GINGRICH: Thank you.
HANNITY: There is the Elephant.
GINGRICH: Yes, Ellis the Elephant.
HANNITY: Was it because you could have picked Ellis the donkey, but I don’t think it would have worked so well.
GINGRICH: Well, we could have picked Ellis the Donkey, but we didn’t. We looked at bunnies and giraffes, hippos, but in the end, we couldn’t resist this adorable little elephant.
HANNITY: Well, the illustration is phenomenal. Why don’t you tell us some of the things that kids will learn? For example, they’ll learn about the pilgrims, you walk through space history. Explain.
GINGRICH: Right, so what we’ve done is try to select those pivotal moments that have really shaped our history. Ellis begins looking at our defining moments, looking at the pilgrims, the first Thanksgiving.
Then he imagines what it would have been like to have been at the Boston Tea Party and he joins George Washington crossing the Delaware, all to help kids understand what a marvelous country this is.
HANNITY: You talk about the first man on the moon.
GINGRICH: That’s right.
HANNITY: The great pioneers.
GINGRICH: Right. We also have the Wright brothers included in this book. Kids love rocket ships and airplanes, and we want them to know they, too, can be inventors. They can live adventurous lives.
HANNITY: When I read these statistics though on education and for example, there was a recent study that said that America is going to be fifth economically in a few short years.
The IMF is predicting, you know, one case that China will surpass us by the year 2060. I always — it’s just never been a thought to me that America shouldn’t be number one in math and science and invention and technology. What’s gone wrong? What do you think the problem is?
GINGRICH: Well, I think a lot of our schools have just stopped teaching the basics. So we really have to come back and teach our founding documents and our children have to know what is the basis of being an American.
HANNITY: Did you create Ellis for the sole reason that they respond to characters?
GINGRICH: Well, children need a unique character to keep their attention and their interests. That’s why we created Ellis the Elephant.
HANNITY: What would we call the Democrat? I thought of some names.
GINGRICH: Maybe book two will have a brief mention.
HANNITY: What about when you send your kids off to school? What advice would you give them? I get calls on the radio about this all the time.
Kids call me and they say, my teacher says this, which is factually inaccurate or my teacher tells me Obama’s the greatest president ever, or my teacher says that George W. Bush is killing women and children. What advice do you give kids when they find themselves in that predicament?
GINGRICH: Well, I think if they go home and tell their parents, their parents have the right to speak up. Tell the teacher that they don’t agree.
HANNITY: I experienced that in college, then you risk a lower grade.
GINGRICH: Right, you do, but you have to be true to what you believe in and true to our American history.
HANNITY: Now you’re going to go to book tour. When you’re out campaigning, are you going to take some time away from the campaign and do the book tour? You’ll be on “Fox & Friends” tomorrow.
GINGRICH: Yes, I will. We’ll do book signings and school visits and we’ll just share Ellis across the country as we travel.
HANNITY: Will you have Ellis the Elephant memorabilia?
GINGRICH: Stuffed animals.
HANNITY: There’s Ellis right there.
GINGRICH: We love Ellis. I do have a character who will travel with me, and he’ll say hello to the children, take pictures and get them excited about American history.
HANNITY: Great to see you again. Thanks for being with us.