Ankita Achanta’s father began driving her to violin lessons when she was three years old. Her teacher lived near Washington Crossing Historic Park and young Ankita took notice of the unique names on the street signs they passed. They piqued her curiosity.
“I saw General Mercer Avenue, General Knox Road and others, and I wondered who these people were,” says Ankita, who is now a senior at George School in Newtown. “When I was in fourth grade there was a book writing competition through the Southampton Library, so I decided to investigate this curiosity of mine and write a book about it.”
She won that competition with The Streets of Washington Crossing, PA … and the Generals Who Dwell There, a collection of short biographies she wrote on each street-sign namesake – nine in total. Each chapter shares facts about their lives and explains how each contributed to the 1776 crossing of the Delaware River.
Flash forward to Ankita’s sophomore year in high school. Her curiosity about these nine historical figures had never waned so she began working on the book again.
“I reached out to the Friends of Washington Crossing Park for their help, and everyone was so supportive and helpful when it came to finding credible sources, correcting information, and proofreading my work,” she says. “I would never have accomplished this without their help.”
“Around the same time,” she continues, “I had a friend at George School, Maia Hannah-Drullard, who drew illustrations for the book. My goal was to create a children’s book that was fun and interesting to read. I started writing the book when I was a kid, but as a grew up I still wanted it to be kid friendly.”
Today, after much work and editing, the book is available on Amazon. She hopes to offer it for sale in the park’s gift shop and would like to see it developed into an app or a walking tour of the area.
Although she is interested in pursuing medicine as a career, Ankita doesn’t think she’ll ever shake the history bug. She has attended many of the park’s crossing reenactments with her family and still finds history fascinating.
“There is so much value and understanding you can get from learning history,” she says. “I think everyone should know about history, even if they want to study a completely unrelated field.”