Bookmark This is a feature that highlights new books by College of Arts and Sciences faculty and alumni, published the first week of each month. This month’s featured book is Dig It!: Archaeology for Kids (Edelweiss) by UNC-Chapel Hill alumna Caitlin Sockin (classics and archaeology ’21), with contributions from Carolina faculty members Benjamin S. Arbuckle and Hérica Valladares.
Q: Can you give us a brief synopsis of your book?
A: DIG IT! takes young readers on an archaeological journey across the globe throughout time. The exciting itinerary has them experience the steps of archaeology — finding a site, excavation, lab work, interpretation and conservation — as well as famous and not-so-famous archaeological sites/discoveries that bring to life archaeology topics and methods. Bonus topics include types of archaeologists, linkages to history and art history, household archaeology, artifact museum ownership and the impact of climate on artifacts. QR codes can be found throughout the book, which readers can scan to watch drone fly-over videos of sites and demonstrations of dig techniques!
Q: How does this fit in with your research interests and passions?
A: I have been writing stories as a hobby since I was 6 years old, so being able to lead young readers through nonfiction content I studied at UNC in a narrative way is personally enriching. I was inspired to write this book for a younger audience because I want kids to get excited about archaeology and know it is something they can pursue; I didn’t realize archaeology fascinated me, or even was a field of study I could go into until I happened to take an archaeology course for credits my first semester at UNC! When researching archaeological discoveries/sites to include in this book, I learned so much more about global archaeological projects and cultures I may not have otherwise known.
Q: What was the original idea that made you think: “There’s a book here?”
A: After graduating from UNC in summer of 2021, I was left with an unfulfilled desire to continue learning and to find a creative outlet. So, I began to do research on interesting archaeological discoveries. Combined with my love for writing as mentioned previously, I saw an opportunity to apply my major in an inspiring way that could impact future generations that I wouldn’t have utilized in my regular marketing job.
Q: What surprised you when researching/writing this book?
A: What surprised me most wasn’t so much the writing process or research, but how insanely complicated image/photograph permissions are to make sure the visuals are stunning, illustrate the text in the best possible way and that they don’t break any legal rules. I am proud that I took this opportunity to become familiar with copyright laws and overcome permissions issues on my own.
Q: Where’s your go-to writing spot, and how do you deal with writer’s block?
A: I find I am most productive writing without any distractions, so simply in a nook in my apartment. In a perfect world, however, I would be writing in a cabin on a mountaintop! When writer’s block hit me, I often stepped away from my computer and reminded myself of the bigger goals of the book. What I want young readers to take away from DIG IT! helped to center my writing to push the narrative forward to those goals.
Sockin is an author and assistant publisher at Wundermill (Cornell Lab Publishing Group and Persnickety Press). Her interest in archaeology and classics began at a very young age with her first museum visits and fascination with Egyptian pharaohs and deities.
Contributing editors Arbuckle, a professor and associate chair in the department of anthropology, and Valladares, an associate professor in the department of classics, are both UNC faculty members.
Click here for a PDF education guide to the book, a free downloadable tool that Sockin developed for classroom teachers.
Nominate a book we should feature by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Find previous “Bookmark This” features by searching the term on our website, and add some books to your reading list by checking out our fall College magazine books page. (The spring books page will be published soon).