Brilliant British History at it’s Best…

Recently I blogged about what we are learning for school this year and how we begin each morning with family school. One of the questions folk asked us was… what kind of things do we learn as a family, with so many kids and so many ages. Honestly I have never thought that some kids were too small or some kids were too old for any topic… we just tend to dive in and go. We do have a couple of fabulous book and not so bookish resources that we work through together and I thought we would share some of them over the next few weeks…

One of the top topics we are learning about this year is the History of Britain and Ireland. We received this book for review purposes from Penguin Books South Africa and we have loved it totally. I have taken literally months to review this, because whenever I sat down to blog about it… the book was gone, under someone’s pillow after light’s out, packed for an adventure in the great outdoors… lurking under a pile of artefacts from a trip through our “round the world artefact” collection. This book has been loved and and lugged all over the place, and it is well worn to prove it.


Normally, when we read a book like this together… I read a couple of pages a day for a couple of weeks and we discuss and draw and think about what we have read… this book has been nothing like that. This is the sort of reference book that you have to climb into… an afternoon in the depths of this book will leave you with the fresh smell of bread baking in ancient ovens, you will hear the feet of ancient soldiers crunching their way to the woodlands off to defend their land. This is a book that transports you… if you only dip into it for a few minutes are you are submerged for hours… you will come away having been transported, back in time, to a different world.

Se7en + 1 Reasons Why We Love This Book

  1. Incredible Photography: I am sure this book was written with interested adults in mind, or at least with a vision to help with school projects… but it is so much more than that. The photography is crystal clear and typically brilliant DK photography… with wide open spreads that you can literally hear the English countryside singing around you. I am sure that the authors never meant for romans to actually walk along Hadrian’s Wall… but with dozens of huge double spreads and beautiful photographs to play on, how could you not line up your men and march.
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  3. Timelines Abound: Not boring old timelines full of complicated ideas… these timelines are well illustrated and packed with fabulous factoids, covering vast tracts of British History and explaining interesting details. Tons of little snippets of information for the avid fact finder.
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  5. Famous Folk: This book is about more than places and spaces… almost all events are accompanied by pages of information about the people of the time… because let’s face it, history wouldn’t be history without it’s characters. Scientists, explorers, poets, authors, all there waiting to be introduced and discovered.
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  7. Treasure Troves: Every family ought to have a treasure hunter, and we have more than a few. Every era had it’s own treasures and pages and pages of beautifully photographed treasures can be found between the pages of this book… Treasures discovered in a Viking burial ship, ornaments and nick-nacks from Tudor Life; Domestic Appliances from the mid-1900’s, and everything in between. This is as close as you can get to an afternoon of wandering through the British Museum. Pages of treasures, through the ages, for those treasure hunters to explore.
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  9. Quotable Quotes: It is one thing to know when and where an event happened in time, but so much more enriching to know what people of the day were thinking. So often there is a disconnect between famous sayings and the events, this book manages to pull it all together and to create context for those quotes.
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  11. Famous Features: We have read about the Magna Carta in school a number of times… my kids know the when, the where and the why about it… but this book has incredible photographs of these special documents… now we have seen the actual document. You can have a close up look at the Bayeux Tapestry.
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  13. Delving and Dipping: This book is filled with interesting blocks of information, you can open it anywhere and discover something new and interesting… every double page spread has a different theme. There is a “before” and “after” block on each spread, they set the scene for the page you are reading on.
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    And the se7en + 1th…

  15. Interesting Times: This book winds it’s way through six huge chapters… Britons and Invaders, Medievil Britain; Tudors and Stuarts; Rise of Power; Industry and Empire and finally Modern Times… you won’t feel like you are reading through an encyclopaedia at all… this book is a living book, we have climbed into it and we are off… this book is as close as visiting any number of museums, without actually having to go there. You can click on this link to take a peak inside it, you won’t be disappointed!!!

Se7en + 1 Fabulous British History Resources…

There are so many fantastic resources for learning British History online that it can be a little overwhelming – so I am bringing you a list of the best of the rest…

  1. BBC History for Kids: this is the most fantastic site for finding interesting snippets and links to amazing facts… games, quizzes, printables. Honestly there is so much on this site that it could keep you busy for years and years. This is not boring old history by any means… take a look at some of their activity pages.
  2. Usborne Quicklinks: What can I say, one of the best resources for just about anything and everything on the web… and of course that includes British History, click on the link… click on a book and go… they have links to all sorts of incredible finds and features: videos, printables, quizzes, photographs, features… go there and you will get lost in the best possible way!!!
  3. Timeline British History from Woodlands Junior School: Just the facts, quick and easy to use… my middle students like it for getting information fast and in a presentable way.
  4. If you have to visit a museum then the British Museum is the one: If you can’t go there in real life never fear, a virtual visit is the way to go. There is an online area for young explorers; and heaps of resources by topic and grade.
  5. The Tower of London: One of our favourite museums to visit ever… has stacks and stacks of treasures and resources to spot when visiting on-line. Not to mention lots of resources for teachers.
  6. Vikings at the Jorvik Viking Center: has heaps of viking resources…
  7. The Imperial War Museum: Another one of our favourite museums ever, has tons of of interesting things to look at and explore… their Learning Resources page had me busy for hours. Just click on anything and explore.
  8. And the Se7en + 1th…

  9. BBC Schools Radio: Welcome to the world of Podcasts for kids, stacks of stuff to choose from and not only history. My kids have really enjoyed downloading these and listening away… click over you could well find something that you want to listen to too.

We received this book for review purposes from Penguin Books South Africa, we were not paid to write this review and the opinions expressed in it are, as usual, entirely our own.

7 Replies to “Brilliant British History at it’s Best…”

  1. DK books are always very well produced and with plenty of appeal across a wide age range – we’ve got 4 or 5 of these big tomes (animals, earth, space and so on_) They are perfect for pouring over at the dinner table!

  2. Hay Zoe, I have always loved DK books… and you are so right these big tomes are fantastic… we recently bought the animal book and I am so glad we did… it has been top reading choice on our coffee table for weeks now. And as for British History… this book can’t be beat… we do have a couple of other resources that we like and will use, but this book really can’t be beat!!! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, hope you have a great week!!!

  3. This looks so fun! Where did you get the Romans figures and other men? I love how you added them in the adventure!

    My children love your monthly calendar by the way! Thank you!

  4. Thank you Angela, So thrilled you enjoy our calendar – you have no idea!!! You would be a little surprised at the artifacts we all have lying around our homes… we have bits and bobs from our travels in the past. A few years back we went on a family trip to the UK, at each museum we collected a couple of figurines. They have always been considered to be real treasures, this book brought them out of the box and into the limelight. Thanks for stopping by and hope you have a great weekend!!!

  5. Thank you! We’re in the US, yet I should look more in museum shops.

    My 9 year old always reminds me if I forget to print out your calendar. It is greatly anticipated here! For some reason I have trouble getting the whole page to print in landscape; so I end up copying, pasting and resizing it to fit. I am not very technically talented; so I’m not sure what I am doing, but it works. Thank you again for the treat! I love all your book recommendations and gorgeous pictures of adventures and family love too.

  6. Thank you Angela, You are too kind. Your lovely comment made my day. Hope you are having a fabulous week!!!

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