We are often asked for recommendations for books to read with primary aged children during their history topic.

Here are some of our favourites:

1000 year old boy

Title: The 1000 Year Old Boy

Author: Ross Welford

History Topic: Anglo Saxons and Vikings

Age Range: KS2 (Y5/6)

Review: This book has much to recommend it from a historical perspective. Alfie is a boy who was born in the north of England at the time of the last Viking raids. Having eaten a 'life pearl' he is still alive and still a boy 1000 years later. The story is told from the perspectives of Alfie and his modern friends and the juxtaposition of language and understanding of modern life very neatly draws attention to the similarities and differences. My favourite passage describes a school trip to a reconstructed Anglo- Saxon Village, which of course Alfie finds rather silly. Aside from the historical truths which will become apparent are many others truths about the nature of communities and how people who are different are treated, leading to lessons applicable to any historical time period.

 cave baby

Title: Cave Baby

Author: Julia Donaldson, ill. Emily Gravett

History Topic: Prehistory

Age Range: KS2 (Y3/4)

Review: With her usual accessible and humourous style, Donaldson has opened the door to a common theme for lower key stage 2 prehistory topics. Many children spend time studying cave paintings and then designing their own drawings. Children may also be familiar with the scenario of a child being told off for drawing on the walls at home. This book is a great way to start thinking about what materials were available to prehistoric artists, why they drew certain creatures and even the pigments they used. There is some great use of language which makes this book perfect for repeated reading aloud.

 stone age boy

Title: Stone Age Boy

Author: Satoshi Kitamura

History Topic: Prehistory

Age Range: KS2 (Y3/4)

Review: If you’d like a book which could be used as the central pillar of your prehistory topic, this could easily fit the bill. It is a liner tale of boy who travels back in time, experiences many different elements of Stone Age life. The story most closely represents Mesolithic life (Based on the needles used to make clothes), although it may be interpreted as Palaeolithic. The illustration clearly show historically accurate techniques for clothing manufacture, cooking, fishing and shelter building, although the method of throwing spears at prey in a hunt is questioned by many. A lovely twist at the end and plenty of inspiration for creative writing about life in the Stone Age.

 amesbury archer

Title: Archer Journey to Stonehenge

Author: Jane Brayne

History Topic: Prehistory

Age Range: KS2 (Y3-6)

Review: This comic strip takes the clues from the burial of the Amesbury Archer, discovered near Stonehenge, and seamlessly weaves them into a perfectly illustrated tale. From an explanation of his lame leg, to providing the reason for his long journey to foreign shores, this delightful book is a window into the hopes and fears of our Copper Age ancestors. The book concludes with an accessible, factual account of the burial and associated archaeological evidence.

 bronze axe

Title:The Boy with the Bronze Axe

Author: Kathleen Fidler

History Topic: Prehistory

Age Range: KS2

Review: This is a class (and rightly so) which has enjoyed a resurrgence due to the introduction of Prehistory element to the English history curriculum. The National Curriculum specifiaclly mentions Skara Brae as an example of a key location in the British Neolithic. this novel vivdly brings the period to life, bring human concerns, fear and motivations to life through the young protganists. Key archaeological items are introduced, such as the mysterious carved stone balls and the incredible standing stone circles built in neolithic Orkney. A story which will quickly enable your class to empathise with our ancestors of 6000 years ago.

 Time traveller

Title: Diary of a Time Traveller

Author: Nicholas Stevenson

History Topic: Historical Understanding

Age Range: KS2

Review: This beautifully illustrated picture books describes the journey young Augustus takes into history after his teacher gives him an enchanted notebook. The journey takes him to many historical turning points across Britain and the rest of the world. Augustus' journey reinforces chronology and opens a door for children onto the parallels of historical inventions and occurences across the world. (I must admit to a personal interest here, as I taught the author when he was 10!)

 britannia stories  

Title: Britannia

Author: Geraldine McCaughrean

History Topic: Creation of Britain

Age Range: KS1/2

Review: This book is a real find. So useful for accessible versions of classic stories from British history, accompanied by notes on historical accuracy and context. Stories from 1000 BC to 1993. Something for every primary school history topic. Very useful for those leading assemblies to have on their shelves too.

 roman soldiers handbook   

Title: The Roman Soldier's Handbook

Author: Lesley Simms

History Topic: Roman Britain

Age Range: KS2

Review: 'A classic. It should be read by soldiers everywhere, from the colosseum to Hadrian's Wall.' the Roman Review.

This book is engaging from the start with engaging illustrations and clear text. It introduces the would be recruit to the routines and exhillerations of the life in the Roman army. Historical accuracy is evident on each page, whilst retaining an appeal for readers of varying abilities.Also useful teacher reference for tricky quetiosn about military life!

 saxon gold  

Title: Saxon Gold

Author: Cathy Shingler, Neil Emmanuel

History Topic: Early Saxons

Age Range: KS2

Review: This book does two things. It summarises the finding and conservation of the Staffordshire hoard and introduces readers to some of the main pieces using the device of a class visiting the hoard. It also tells the story of King Penda of Mercia, who is believed to have been the owner of the hoard and the wavering of the Mercian kings of this time between Christianity and belief on the old gods. The book is set out as a cartoon, with both elements runnng parallel across each page. It is not a great book for readin aloud to children but a fascinating one to prompt ideas for research and story telling. a skillful touch is the inclusion of Anglo-saxon style poetry in the speach of the cartoon Woden

 beowulf KCH  

Title: Beowulf

Author:Kevin Crossley Holland

History Topic: Anglo-Saxons

Age Range: KS2

Review: This book successfully treads the thin line between conjuring theatmosphere of the original text with being accessible to children in uppoer KS2. It is perfect for reading aloud as the assonance and metre of Anglo-saxon poety becomes more evident in this way. The illustrations are atmospheric and the kennings (short  riddle descriptions favoured by Anglo-Saxno story tellers) add an authentic feel. This book is perfect as the inspiration for writing and creative language tasks.

secrets stonehenge

Title: The Secrets of Stone Henge

Author: Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom

History Topic: Prehistory

Age Range: KS2

Review: As well as explaining the context of Neolithic life in Britain, this book does a great job of describing the long development of Stonehenge. The illustrations clarify suggested methods of bringing the blue stones from Wales, raising the sarcen stones and adding the lintels. A very accessible information book with cartoon elements to appeal to all KS2 readers.

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