Non-fiction Friday – History

This week, I have some brilliant History books which cover a variety of different topics:

  • Medicine – a magnificently illustrated history
  • Great Britons – 50 amazing people who have called Britain home
  • Talking History – 150 years of speakers and speeches
  • Earth Clock – the history of our planet in 24 hours

These are hugely varied and show a range of both significant individuals in history and eras: let’s take a closer look at what each book covers!

Earth Clock – Tom Jackson & Nic Jones

Our planet has been spinning in the blackness of Space for 4.5 billion years. People have only been around for a tiny part of it. But what happened before we arrived on the scene? Before animals, dinosaurs and even trees? Imagine if we could discover Earth’s history in one day…

Starting the clock from the formation of the Earth, discover each significant moment in time on the clock, counting down to midnight. Earth Clock covers the most interesting and high-impact moments of our planet’s geological history with stunning, detailed illustrations, while charting the evolution of life on Earth, from ancient single-celled organisms to the species we know today, until modern humans appear – at just four seconds to midnight. What will tomorrow bring?

The concept of time and the chronology of history is often an abstract concept that children struggle to understand. Earth Clock aims to combat this through comparing it to a time scale they do understand: a day. This book very cleverly shows how much of history has already passed and how little of it has been impacted by humans. It really put it into perspective for me, so I’ve no doubt it will be highly useful in the classroom for children to have more grasp on a tricky concept.

Talking History – Joan Haig, Joan Lennon & André Ducci

Words can change the world by starting new conversations.

Abraham Lincoln inspired a nation, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti fought for women’s rights and Greta Thunberg made her voice heard on global warming. The stirring words of the 16 speakers inside have formed milestones in modern history and engaged generations on important issues including war, women’s rights, climate change and civil rights. 

Covering speeches from the last 150 years, explore the events leading up to each speech, listen to the words, and discover the impact they had on the world. Presented in graphic novel style, this is a book to inspire a new generation of thinkers and talkers.

There are some infamous speeches which we use to teach lessons, but I was inspired by many new stories and people I have not previously covered or, in some cases, heard of prior to reading ‘Talking History’. It had a diverse range of topics which were covered and could be a really useful talking point to start lessons and discussions within your own classroom. It will inspire a new generation through the words of the past.

Great Britons – Imogen Russell Williams & Sara Mulvanny

Throughout the centuries, the history of this small island nation has been shaped by the people who were born in Britain or arrived on its shores. From early Britons to modern pioneers, leaders, writers, athletes and activists, this country has contained a wealth of incredible talent, only made ‘greater’ by our history of immigration, integration and innovation.

This beautiful large-format gift hardback features stunning full-colour artwork throughout. Each page spread is devoted to a tale of an incredible Briton, told by talented writer and children’s book critic Imogen Russell Williams and brought to life by Sara Mulvanny’s vivid illustration. 

Discover the enthralling and diverse stories of 50 brilliant Britons through the ages, from the warrior queen Boudicca of early Britain, who rose in revolt against the Romans, to activist Malala Yousafzai, who fights for every girl’s right to an education today. The gripping tales include key figures from all areas of British life – science, medicine, entertainment, sports, activism and more.

Featuring the inspirational lives and achievements of amazing people such as Florence Nightingale, Alan Turing, Mary Prince, Stormzy, Charles Darwin and Noor Inayat Khan, Great Britons is not only a celebration of our history as an island, but also as part of a far larger and greater world.

The authors of this brilliant book have chosen a wide and diverse range of inspirational people from British history, past and present. I loved the variety of people who were included: for example, I have always credited Clement Attlee with the NHS, so it was interesting to learn about Aneurin Bevan and his part to play within this. I was also really happy to see more modern inclusions of Judith Kerr and Sir Ian McKellan! I can’t wait to use this in my own classroom – each child can use it as a model for their own double-page spread about a person that inspires them!

Medicine – Briony Hudson & Nick Taylor

From potions and ointments to modern day bionics, the journey through medicine has been one full of experiments, trials and breakthroughs. Humankind’s battle to stay alive has been horrifying, bizarre and exhilarating, and there is still a long way to go. 

Uniquely presented through a series of posters, comic-strip retellings, timelines, newspaper articles and much more, this strikingly illustrated book charts the history of medicine in engaging and unusual ways – guaranteed to keep children gripped. 

I always think medicine and the way we have developed healing and wellness through history is fascinating, and ‘Medicine’ did not disappoint. Not only did it cover a range of eras and the developments of our understanding of illness – and therefore wellness – but there were sections about particular illnesses (such as the black death) as well as mention of significant individuals and the impact they have on medical history (such as Elizabeth Garrett Anderson). Alongside paragraphs of in-depth knowledge, there were a range of illustrations to enhance this – comic-style stories, diagrams of the body and comparisons of past and present. Even if this is not a topic you cover, it is very interesting reading for you and your class.

Emily x

📚Books gifted

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