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Ancient Civilizations

All children study several ancient civilizations at Key Stage 2 including Ancient Greece, the Romans, Anglo-Saxons or Vikings and Ancient Egypt, Ancient Sumer, the Assyrian Empire, the Indus Valley, the Mayans, Benin or the Aztecs. These studies often trigger an interest children want to pursue at home, at at least until the class moves on to something else. (Beware of budding archeologists - their digging can reek havoc in the garden)

V-Mail: Letters from the Romans at Vinodalanda Fort near Hadrian's Wall
by Katherine Hoare
(The British Museum Press)
The letters found at Vindolanda are one of the most amazing finds from Roman Britain. Written on small, thin pieces of wood, they are the sort of quick note we now write in email - birthday party invitations, shopping lists, gossipy letters and orders for supplies. In this book, each double page spread starts with an extract from one of the letters and then goes on to provide more information on the topic it covers, sometimes referring to other letters too. So the birthday party invitation explains who the people were in the letter and talks about family life at the fort while a shopping list triggers as section on Roman food and weights and measures. Illustrated throughout by photographs of real Roman artefacts, this book gives a real feel for life in Roman Britain and shows how the people of that time had similar interests and priorities to us. Written for confident readers - those with less confidence will need help from an adult.
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The Indus Valley Civilisation
by Rhona Dick
Children’s books on ancient civilisations are dominated by Greece, Rome and Egypt, so it’s a delightful change to find one on about a different part of the world. (The Indus flows from Tibet, through what is now Kashmir and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea). This book concentrates on the archaeological findings in the area and the way archaeologists have used them to piece together a picture of life at that time. It emphasises that knowledge is limited and interpretations vary, even encouraging the reader to come up with their own ideas about some objects. This is useful addition to any library and particularly interesting to budding archaeologists and children with family ties to the region.
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Rome in Spectacular Cross Section
by Stephen Biesty
(Oxford University Press)
Each double paged spread in this book is devoted to a detailed picture of part of Roman life - a rich man's house, the forum, the baths and many more. Each one is cut away to show the inside of the building as well as the outside and each is packed with tiny details so the more you look, the more you spot. There is so much information in the pictures themselves that even weak readers can use this book as a source of information.
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Horrible Histories
by Terry Deary
This series has probably done more to interest children in history than any other books on the market. Terry Deary invented a genre when he created the first one and stresses that they are about people rather than dates. The jokey writing style is easy to read and broken up by loads of cartoon illustrations and the occasional quiz while the fascinating and often gruesome facts give a good feel of what it was like to live in one of the ancient civilizations. Not a source of pictures for projects but great for building enthusiasm and interest.
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Buy The Incredible Incas from Amazon
Buy The Groovy Greeks from Amazon
Buy The Rotten Romans from Amazon
Buy The Awesome Egyptions from Amazon

Ancient Rome
Ancient Greece
by Peter Connolly and Andrew Solway
(Oxford University Press)
These two books are a younger version of The Ancient City (reviewed below). Both are beautifully illustrated with photographs of real artefacts and drawings of life at that time. For example, the section on the Parthenon includes a photograph of it today, a drawing of how it probably looked in the past, a reconstruction of how the friezes may have looked before the paint wore away, a cut away diagram of the whole building and drawings of how it was built. The accompanying text is full of interesting facts and uses straightforward sentence constructions to make reading easy. A good choice to help school projects.
Ages 8+
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The Ancient City: Life in Classical Athens and Rome
by Peter Connolly and Hazel Dodge
(Oxford University Press)
History enthusiasts looking for more than the bare facts about Athens and Rome need look no further. This book is packed with interesting information about life in these two ancient cities presented in a way that captures the reader's attention. The illustrations are wonderful, ranging from photographs of real archeological excavations to full colour cut away diagrams of buildings, drawings of everyday life and fascinating details of Roman plumbing. This book is aimed at secondary students and adults but younger historians could enjoy the pictures provided they have help with the text.
Ages 12 - adult
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Click for Writing for ChildrenA Visitor's Guide to Ancient Rome
by Lesley Sims
As the name suggests, this book is written in the style of a travel guide complete with tips for tourists, useful phrases and advice on what to do if you become ill. It's packed with fascinating facts on everyday life in Ancient Rome presented a light-hearted, highly accessible way which is likely to tempt even unenthusiastic history students. A worthy winner of the TES Information Book Award 2000.
Ages 9-adult
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Click for Writing for ChildrenPompeii - The Day a City was Buried 
by Melanie and Christopher Rice 
(Dorling Kindersley)
Constant reference back to archeological evidence, real objects and real people makes this book come alive. Its account of the eruption of Vesuvius and its effect on the city includes eye witness accounts and is well illustrated with eye-catching photographs and drawings in full colour. There is also plenty of  detail of everyday life before the eruption and some background facts on volcanoes. The disaster based approach will appeal especially to boys but this fascinating book contains such a variety  of information that there is sure to be something to interest everyone. The excellent illustrations mean it can be used by older children with special needs provided they have support with the reading                (with thanks to Ros)
Ages 7-11+      

Click for Writing for ChildrenThe Eyewitness Project Pack - Ancient Greece
(Dorling Kindersley)
This attractive pack provides a poster, pictures and photographs plus two small child-friendly booklets  containing information and a fact file. The pictures also have information on the back and include photographs of real Greek objects and paintings of everyday Greek life. As they are all on separate pieces of paper, they are ideal for including in project work or wall displays but some are sufficiently  small to make them more suitable for individual work.  The whole pack is excellent value for money and particularly suitable for classroom use, although many children will enjoy exploring it on their own. The high picture content is likely to attract reluctant readers and children with special needs.          (with thanks to Ros)                   
Ages  7-11   (Reading level 8+)
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Click for Writing for ChildrenThe Usborne Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece
This beautifully produced book is packed with photographs, colour drawings and information. Although it's called an encyclopedia, it's not organised  alphabetically. Instead it follows the development of Greece from its earliest days to its decline and fall and eventual conquest by Rome. It also has a large section on everyday life plus a factfinder section which includes Greek myths, a who's who, a time chart and a list of useful websites. A useful  reference book which won't be outgrown too quickly. 
Ages 8-14+
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Click for Writing for ChildrenPepi and the Secret Names
by Jill Paton Walsh
(Frances Lincoln)
This captivating story set in Ancient Egypt tells how a young boy helps his father paint the animal gods inside the royal tomb by persuading a succession of creatures to come and pose for him. It's a beautifully written tale involving hieroglyphics with a puzzle for children to solve plus excellent illustrations which are Egyptian in style so the pictures and text complement each other well. The book looks like a very large picture book but the level and length of the story makes it best for children of 7 and over. A good choice for linking literacy with history.  
Ages 7-11 (read alone 8+)
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