Arlington Kids Author Hamilton Guide Book
Spencer Park, 9, and Alden Humphrey, 8, tap into the 'Hamilton' craze.
Inspired by the hit Broadway musical Hamilton (about famed Federalist Alexander Hamilton), two Arlington boys recently teamed up to write a kids’ guide to D.C. area sites related to the founding father.
Nine-year-old Spencer Park and 8-year-old Alden Humphrey are friends from Arlington Science Focus Elementary, and now co-authors of District of Hamilton. Since January of this year, the duo has been working tirelessly outside of their rigorous academic schedule to have the novel ready by the musical’s 14-week run at the Kennedy Center.
Alden and Spencer say their love of rapping all of the Hamilton songs inspired the idea for the book, which is actually Spencer’s third published work. “We had been listening to the musical a lot and I had already written two other books with my older sister Avery,” Spencer says (including a 2015 kids’ guide to Arlington’s best parks). “Since Alden was also interested in the musical, we decided to work together.”
Alden’s older sister Maggie, 11, completed the graphic design work seen throughout the book.
The boys researched and visited nearly two dozen sites before penning District of Hamilton, which includes pictures of Alden dressed up as George Washington and Spencer as Ben Franklin, along with fun facts and comments from “Alex” (the voice of Alexander Hamilton) about each spotlighted location.
At one particularly noteworthy landmark, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the boys say they were surprised to learn the government still makes $2 bills. “They don’t make them as often because no one spends them. [People] they think they are still so precious and rare,” Spencer says. The Bureau’s shredded $100 bills now count among the authors’ most prized souvenirs. “If it’s not 98 percent perfectly printed as the model, they shred it up and give it to you,” Alden explains.
Aside from those shredded Benjamins, the boys say their favorite part of researching and writing the book was recreating the infamous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, albeit with Nerf guns.
The book includes a treasure hunt and—wait for it— a free dessert from D.C. establishments The Hamilton and Farmers & Distillers for families with a copy of the book.
What’s next? While the authors don’t have any immediate plans for another book, their parents are satisfied that the research left their boys well prepared for studying Virginia Colonial history next year.
But Alden and Spencer are hoping to leverage their newfound fame for more than just a head start in history class; the two are using #DistrictofHamilton on social media to tell Hamilton himself (that is, Hamilton creator and playwright Lin- Manuel Miranda) that they want to meet, and that “his musical is cool.”
Becoming a published author has its perks, yes. But Spencer says he hopes to one day become a software engineer or game designer. Alden plans to be a budget analyst.
District of Hamilton can be purchased on Amazon ($12.12) or from the gift shops at the National Archives and The Kennedy Center.