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Children enjoy thinking about people of the past, and especially enjoy all the bits that are gory, nasty or just plain mad (that’s why Horrible Histories is so popular)! Whether it's the Great Fire of London, The Stone Age, or WW2 here are a selection of books for every lover of history.
A wonderful introduction to how a modern place somewhere in the UK will have been created over the centuries, this beautiful picture book cleverly records the history of a place as it would look from the perspective of an oak tree. Oaks are famous for the exceptional number of years that they live and their permanence makes an interesting contrast to how frequently humans change the landscape. “I first was an acorn, so tiny and round,/I fell from a branch and sank into the ground./ Then as I grew up, I turned into a tree…/ over hundreds of years! So, what did I see?” Taken together, the simple rhyming text matched by beautiful and carefully detailed illustrations offer a delightful history lesson. The book ends with a useful timeline: "What was happening in the world while the oak tree grew?". It comes right up to the present with the spreading of the Covid-19 virus!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2021 | The story of the brilliant scientist Marie Curie, the chemist/ physicist who made life saving discovery in medicine and won the Nobel Prize for her work has long been an inspiration to all budding scientists. Marie Curie overcame much prejudice against women scientists to succeed as she did and, in doing so, opened the doors for future generations of women. But Marie Curie had another important role as an inspiration to future generations: she was the mother of two scientists who also grew up to become women scientists in their own right. This rounded life of Marie Curie and her daughters is beautifully realised in words and pictures by sisters Imogen and Isobel Greenberg in a book that will encourage all readers to take bold steps in life.
Written and illustrated with infectious verve, Kate Pankhurst’s Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories puts paid to any notion that women’s role in science has been peripheral. In fact, despite huge impediments, and thanks to their intellect and tenacity, this inspiring book shows how women have been at the heart of many major discoveries - from finding the cure for malaria, to spearheading revolutionary DNA research, to making monumental advances in the fields of volcanology, astronomy, botany and chemistry (and more). Through an engaging blend of text, comic strips, fact boxes and diagrams, the book explores eight life-changing scientific innovators in detail. The fact that most of the scientists aren’t household names tells you everything you need to know about the importance of this book - these are innovators whose names should be known. Take Tu Youyou, for example, the Chinese chemist who spent months on a remote island researching traditional medicines in order to discover a cure for malaria, testing potentially dangerous preparations on herself - and all this against the precarious backdrop of the Cultural Revolution that saw her separated from her family and sworn to secrecy. Then there’s out-of-this-world Mae Jemison, an astoundingly multi-talented woman who grew up watching the first space missions during the Civil Rights Movement and went on to become the first African-American woman astronaut in 1992. Informative, inspiring and presented with passion and clarity, this is children’s non-fiction at its finest.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2020 | Starting with a timeline that stretches from the ‘Big Bang’ to ‘The Modern Age (1940- the present day)’ this is a largely pictorial history covering physical and social developments in big, bold outlines which convey the main messages which are then fleshed out in much greater depth through detailed, fact-filled captions. The topics covered in each of the double-page spreads include ‘Our Home in Space’, ‘The Dinosaur Age’ , ‘Cities, Civilizations and Empires’ and ‘Technology’. The illustrations that convey them determinedly simple which gives the book a welcome, distinctively different look. Find out more about Anna and another of her books, The Mermaid Atlas, in this Q&A.
Nothing is higher profile or more topical currently than concern for the planet, making this subject an excellent choice for the next topic to get the highly successful Kate Pankhurst treatment. Continuing her quest to pay tribute to the often-overlooked female pioneers in any field of human endeavour with her mission to provide accessible and engaging non- fiction, Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet does all that and more. Once again, I was struck by the fascinating and diverse choices of the featured women and girls. Some are relatively well-known: such as Anita Roddick who founded the Body Shop and Jane Goodall and her pioneering research and protection work with chimpanzees. But I had never heard of Edith Farkas who discovered the ozone hole in the Antarctic or Mária Telkes and her pioneering work on solar power. Even more inspiring is the evidence that everyone, however humble, can make a difference. Such as Isatou Geesay in the Gambia and her fight against plastic pollution or the Chipko movement in India, village women literally hugging trees to prevent the deforestation of their land and the floods and landslides which would follow. Each double-page spread has accessible paragraphs of text and lively cartoon illustrations and speech bubbles to tell the story concisely and clearly. This visual style is very engaging to young readers and has great shelf appeal. A useful glossary of terms and a page of inspiring calls to action complete the book. Another triumph of information presentation. Highly recommended.
Where do pebbles come from? How were they made? This book tells the story of a pebble, from its origins in a fiery volcano 480 million years ago to a busy, modern landscape. Readers follow the processes of rock formation and erosion that create new pebbles all over the world.
Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2021, Best Book with Facts | This highly-illustrated reference book celebrates the incredible achievements of various ancient civilisations, exploring their lifestyles, discoveries and inventions, many of which have influenced modern-day society. A brief introduction outlines how humans evolved from apes several million years ago, and explains that homo sapiens, who originated in Africa, are the only species of human alive today. Maps on each page help children to visualise the location of the different civilisations, while a useful timeline at the end places them together in chronological order. Stylish, full-page illustrations provide a colourful and informative backdrop to the wealth of facts contained within this marvellous book.
Fatima Al Fihri is a beautifully illustrated book aimed at young readers and tells the story of the creation of the world’s first University, the University of Al-Qarawiyyin. This book, named after the university’s founder, is a brilliant way to bring lesser known history to the forefront and celebrate it. The first part of a larger series focusing on Muslim women who made history, this book reminded me of the ‘Fantastically Great Women’ series and I think it is an amazing way to share history with younger children. The bright full page illustrations and easy to follow text tell of how Fatima Al Fihri shared her love of education by creating a space at her mosque where anyone of any faith could come to learn. On the final page there's a summary of facts about the University. I think that this book is a great starting point for children to then go on to learn more about Fatima, or to learn more about the other figures as the series continues. I think that Fatima Al Fihri is a great book that would sit well on any child’s bookshelf or in any library. I can’t wait to see who else will appear in this series.
September 2020 Book of the Month | Opening with a heartfelt “Dear sister” address that invites aspiring witches to step into its beautifully-designed pages, this compendium dispels many myths about spell-makers as its modern-day witch authors seek to “retell and reclaim our identity”. One such myth is the distinction between “white” and “black” magic – the authors note that “magic is magic and the only difference lies within our intentions and how we choose to use it.” But what is magic? They point out links between nature and magic, and share information about ancient priestesses and oracles who read signs in nature and understood the power of plants and the planets. Moving through history, readers will discover that distrust of magic emerged in the Middle Ages, which led to the persecution of female practitioners of magic and the murderous witch-hunts of the 15th-17th centuries. After learning about the positive revival of witches in the twentieth-century (such as ecology-oriented Wiccans, and feminist activist witches), the book explores witches in popular culture, magical symbols, and concludes with practical guidance on herb magic, stone magic, crystal magic and making your own talisman. This is a perfect primer for girls interested in magic and witches, and gorgeously-presented too, with a gold-foiled cover, red ribbons and evocative illustrations on every page.
An inspirational history of the LGBTQ+ movement | With activist and founder of LGBT History Month and Schools OUT UK, Susan Sanders, as consultant, you can be confident that the information in this essential resource is reliable as well as being engaging and highly readable. The foreword by celebrity actor Layton Williams and the Why I Have Pride vignettes interspersed throughout the book, featuring young people from across the whole spectrum of the LBGTQ+ community, will ensure a high level of interest from young people and provide empowering messages for them to read. Starting from the evidence of acceptance in ancient history through the growth of persecution as Christianity flourishes in Europe, the brutality of the Inquisition, the recurrence of the death penalty for homosexuality around the world and the disaster of the Aids epidemic, this book does not hide the darker side of the history of the LGBTQ+ movement, but the emphasis is very much on the brave people who took on the fight against discrimination, prejudice and injustice. So, although agonising setbacks occurred, the overall progress has been upwards and the overall impact of the book is to inspire and celebrate. Helped, no doubt, by the rainbow coloured cover and vibrant illustrations. The timeline of milestones, comprehensive index and glossary and guide to sources of further information add value as a reference tool, but this is very much a book that will be read with pleasure and I hope with pride!
Hear all about Ancient Egypt from the great teller of tales, Rami the cat - history like it's never been told before! Join Marcia Williams on a journey to Ancient Egypt. Explore the myths and wonders of this ancient civilization, meet Ra the creator, the cursed boy-king Tutankhamen and Cleopatra, the last pharaoh in these stories of mystery and adventure. Packed with jokes, comic illustrations and fascinating facts, this hugely entertaining fictional biography will make you look at the Ancient Egyptians in a whole new light!
Hear all about the Tudors from the great scribe Arthur Inkbott - history like it's never been told before! Join Marcia Williams on a journey through Tudor times with Arthur Inkblott, Queen Elizbeth I's favourite scribe and his pet ferret, Smudge. Meet Henry VIII and his six wives, fight the Spanish Armada, see Shakespeare's plays performed for the very first time and sail around the world with Christopher Columbus! Packed with jokes, comic illustrations and fascinating facts, this hugely entertaining fictional biography will make you look at the Tudors in a whole new light!
This lively information book does a great job of bringing the Romans to life for children using colour illustrations and interactive flaps to convey a great deal of information. There are double pages on the Roman army and its war machines, on Roman building, gladiators and – likely to be a favourite with most young readers – Roman public toilets. There are lots of facts to learn and some wonderfully quirky bits of information too: did you know, for example, that Roman schools took place in the street, or that Roman children had pet mice? Entertaining and effective as all information books should be.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | ?Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2020 | Written for and about “the swift and sweet ones/who hurdled history and opened a world of possible”, for those who “survived America by any means necessary. And the ones who didn’t,” this is an inspiring ode to the author’s forebears and to the world-changing feats of unforgettable Black American figures. Author Kwame Alexander’s initial inspiration for this book came in the year his second daughter was born, the same year Barack Obama became the first African American president of the USA. As a result, Alexander wanted his daughters “to know how we got to this historic moment”, which is exactly what this stirring book does. The chained slaves who kept faith, the elite Olympians, the innovative musicians, the seminal scientists, the courageous activists - people from all walks of life are celebrated in Alexander’s poetically poised words, and gloriously illustrated by Kadir Nelson, with much for young children to ponder and ask questions about. As well as being a wonderful way for parents to explore Black American history with their little ones on a one-to-one basis, this will also work well with older children in a classroom context. Indeed, this is one of those rare and wonderful picture books that defies age boundaries - a radiant, resonant unforgettable tour de force, as befits its theme.