Here at Storytime, we love history! It tells us about where we come from – and it’s a brilliant source of amazing adventures.
Children’s author Amanda Brandon certainly shares our enthusiasm! She loves to delve into historical settings in her tales (check out The Chariot Race from Storytime 83!). In this blog .
Amanda is a gifted storyteller and has had nearly 20 titles published, including picture books A Scarf and a Half and Unicorn Training and stories for young readers. An avid bookworm since childhood, she wants children to discover a joy for reading which will last a lifetime. And we couldn’t agree more!
Studying history helps children to understand the world better and learn lessons about happiness, facing challenges and the concept of ‘difference’ that are still relevant in the modern day. But how can we bring the past to life for them?
Firstly, there are many marvellous non-fiction books that present historical information in an entertaining way. The Horrible Histories series is full of fun and gruesome tales about the Ancient Greeks, Victorians, Romans and others! There are also Horrible Histories games and quiz cards that are brilliant for kids who are reluctant readers but like to absorb facts in different ways.
Encouraging children to read historical fiction set in the past is another great way to help them imagine what it would have been like to live in a different time and place.
In my book Battle for Freedom, the main character is Rowan, an ancient British shepherd girl who uses her knowledge of the marshlands to outwit the Roman invaders and help the warrior queen Boudicca.
In Sprog the Time-hopping Frog, the title character leaps back to Ancient Greece and takes part in athletic games!
In both stories, I tried to give children historically accurate information but deliver in an entertaining way. Including details about food, clothing and key events really brings an era to life!
I do a lot of historical research for my stories, then filter out things that might be too complex or gory for the target age group. However, I do my best to give the ‘flavour’ of an era.
For example, in The Great Chariot Race (Storytime 83) I hope I gave a feeling of what chariot-racing might be like for a young Roman boy.
My favourite subject to research was the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. I was fascinated by the real-life hunt for the Egyptian ruler’s treasure – it was like an old-time adventure with intrigue, setbacks and secret tunnels! I thought it was a perfect subject to focus on.
What child doesn’t like the idea of searching for buried treasure, after all? Pharaoh’s Treasure mixes fact and fiction in a story about a boy who wants to be an archaeologist and embarks on an adventure of his own.
I love chatting to older people about their school days or what they used to do for fun! By encouraging children to talk to older relatives and acquaintances about their experiences, you can help them to understand different periods and how the world has changed. Speaking to a family member makes history more relatable, and it also gives a chance to record their recollections so their stories can be passed on to younger generations.
I love to visit a ‘living museum’ that brings the sights, smells, sounds of the past to life. This is another great way to motivate children to enjoy history. They can even become a part of it if there are costumes they can wear, artefacts they can touch or re-enactments they can participate in. It’s so much better than looking at dusty old objects in glass cabinets!
Kids can also get ‘hands-on’ with history by making crafts or artefacts of their own – whether it be a knight’s helmet or a Roman clay pot. How about looking up recipes from a certain time period and making historical food so you can get a taste of the past?
It’s easy to think of history as a long list of dates and facts, but with a little imagination and a bit of motivation you can seek out stories that bring history to life!
By now, you must all be keen to read everything Amanda has written so far! She also wrote Miss Beck’s Spectacular Specs in Storytime 37 and The Royal Birthday Surprise in Storytime 45. Visit her website to find out more: www.amandabrandon.co.uk
We have three of her latest books to give away: Sprog the Time-hopping Frog, The Greenwood Adventurers and Pharaoh’s Treasure, by Maverick Books. To enter the draw to win, just answer the question below.
What was an ancient Egyptian ruler called?
A. An emperor
B. A bishop
C. A pharaoh
Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to win the book bundle!