Shelf Life: Writing to Connect Future Generations to the Past

Half Hollow Hills High School East senior Jay Nagpal is passionate about history. His resume is filled with major achievements: he founded the Dix Hills-Melville Historical Association; his National History Day project took first place at regionals; and he received the 2019 Brown University Book Award. Nagpal’s writing is featured in Teen Ink, and published by The Conchord Review. But this student’s passion is not confined to all that he has accomplished so far. Instead, Nagpal looks toward the future to spark his passion for the past in others. 

Though Nagpal  sees history as rich and engaging, he feels the way the subject is talked about and taught does not always reflect that. In his Teen Ink piece, Nagpal argues that history needs to move beyond a “one size fits all” approach in educational settings. Rather than curriculums that emphasize mindless memorization of names and dates, Nagpal writes that history should, “train the mind to reflect and contemplate, to learn to think intellectually with a perspective that has benefitted from a view in the rear mirror.” History, to Nagpal, should activate our minds and connect us through our pasts, presents, and futures.

Nagpal is putting this belief into practice. To make history engaging for local young people, the high school senior wrote a children’s book about the Town of Huntington. Miss Kim’s Class Goes to Town follows a group of initially reluctant students on a field trip to the historic sites of Huntington. With the help of their guide, Mr. Robert (inspired by Town Historian Robert Hughes), the students find themselves immersed and wowed by the history found so close to home.

The book’s publication is sponsored by People’s United Bank,  which will host a book launch at their Huntington branch on November 30th. At the launch, Nagpal will discuss his story and sign book copies from 1 PM – 3 PM. Readers and history lovers of all ages are welcome.

Upcoming Events

  • December 1, Amateur Writers of Long IslandJoin writers of all genres and abilities in the back room of Panera in Huntington Village from 1-6 PM to give and receive feedback.
  • December 7, National Letter Writing Day: Stop by Elwood Library any time between 9:30 AM and 4:30 PM to celebrate National Letter Writing Day. Write a letter to yourself—which the library will mail back to you in one year—or write to a loved one and the library will mail your letter right away. Open to all, no registration required.
  • December 9, Long Island Writers Guild: Join writers at Book Revue for a monthly writing workshop. This two-hour workshop is free and open to all. The workshop begins at 7 PM; all levels and genres welcome.
  • Illustration from Jay Nagpal's children's book, Miss Kim's Class Goes to Town

    Illustration from Jay Nagpal’s children’s book, Miss Kim’s Class Goes to Town supports literacy efforts. If you have book-related information you’d like to share, email Molly Prep.

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