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6 Living Books About Ancient Greece

These books will spark your child's curiosity about Ancient Greece. All book descriptions are from

Ancient Greece for Kids Through the Lives of its Philosophers, Lawmakers, and Heroes by Catherine Fet

ISBN-10 : 1087920566

As a kid, I loved history. But whenever a history book started a boring dive into the economy, class structure, and archaeological finds of this or that era, I turned off my flashlight and went to sleep.

Kids like stories. Whether these are stories of heroism in scary wars, or of the wisdom and intrigue of ancient kings and rebels, or of the sudden turns of fate that befall fortune-seekers, kids are always fascinated by a story with a plot. They learn from stories, not from dense paragraphs about the phases of the Bronze age, the location of trade routes, or the injustices of the social order here and there.

I discovered that my kid remembers minute details of Greek mythology - which is a story-based narrative - and can't recall any cities of Ancient Greece, or any historical figures after reading non-fiction on the subject. To him, Ancient Greece is Odysseus and the Sirens. Because that's a memorable story, while the development of agricultural tools is not.

This book follows the old-fashioned, story-based, traditional route of teaching history - through the stories of heroes and kings, with no tribute paid to modern economic and social perspectives. If my kid remembers who Solon was because he recalls a couple funny anecdotes about him, I know he will put two and two together when he is studying the agricultural subsistence economy of that era down the road in Social Studies. But if he knows all about the injustices of slavery in Ancient Greece and doesn't know who Themistocles was, he will grow up lacking in cultural education. Culture is memes. And that means historical figures, and anecdotes about them.

The suggested reader age for this book is 8 to 14 years old. To write this book, I went back to Herodotus, Plutarch, Diogenes Laertius, and other ancient sources of biographical anecdotes, and extracted from them the stories that will be most memorable to a modern kid. I retold them without adding any fictional color. I have omitted some things, however. Anything gruesome or seriously cruel is not included. Anything off-color, or outside traditional-family-friendly morality is not included. I have included only accounts of the most major battles, and without much detail. Battles are important, but as a kid - maybe as a girl - I was falling asleep over the ancient battles. Politics: Again, I have included only major turns of events.

I wove the information about the social order and geography of Ancient Greece into the stories of the era's historical figures. So, no worries, the kid will learn about the Agora and Acropolis of Athens, the city-states of Corinth and Sparta, daily life in an Ancient Greek household, the major Greek temples, and the three orders of Ancient Greek architecture.

This book is richly illustrated. I don't agree that if you are 13 or 16 you should be content with pages and pages of text and no pictures. Illustrations help both kids and grownups to visualize - and therefore to remember - events and descriptions. I have illustrated the book mostly with paintings portraying historical figures or everyday life in classical Greece. Whenever I could, I chose late 19th century and early 20th century art over the older neoclassical paintings for a more accurate representation of the Ancient Greek costume and environment.

I added some photos of the sculpture, artifacts, and architectural monuments of Ancient Greece.

Important: I have selected illustrations with absolutely no nudity, so it's safe to take this book to school!

Here is a list of the historical figures included in this book: Homer, Aesop, Drakon, Solon, Croesus, Pythagoras, Pheidippides, Leonidas, Themistocles, Pericles, Phidias, Socrates, Aspasia, Hippocrates, Alexander the Great, Diogenes, Plato, Herostratus, Aristotle, Archimedes.

Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick

ISBN-10 : 9781883937126

Jeanne Bendick, through text and pictures, admirably succeeds in bringing to life the ancient Greek mathematician who enriched mathematics and all branches of science. Against the backdrop of Archimedes' life and culture, the author discusses the man's work, his discoveries and the knowledge later based upon it. The simple, often humorous, illustrations and diagrams greatly enhance the text.

Our Little Athenian Cousin of Long Ago by Julia Darrow Cowles

ISBN-10 : 1599152835

Vivid portrayal of the civic and home life of children in Athens during the reign of Pericles, when the art and architecture of ancient Greece were at their height. Through the eyes of Duris, son of the architect Phorion, and Hiero, son of the sculptor Hermippos, we experience the Greek culture of the times as we accompany them on their journey from home to market-place, wonder at the Acropolis, visit schools and studios, observe festivals, and participate in the Olympic games. Attractive black and white illustrations enliven the text. A volume in the Our Little Cousins of Long Ago series. Suitable for ages 8 and up.

The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Anon

ISBN-10 : 0316515264

This colorfully illustrated biography of the Greek philosopher and scientist Eratosthenes, who compiled the first geography book and accurately measured the globe's circumference, is just right for budding mathematicians, scientists, historians, and librarians! Filled with fascinating details about Eratosthenes's world (and in print since 1994), kids are sure to flip through the pages time and again.

The Children's Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy by Padraic Colum

ISBN-10 : 1534450378

Travel back to a mythical time when Achilles, aided by the gods, waged war against the Trojans. And join Odysseus on his journey through murky waters, facing obstacles like the terrifying Scylla and whirring Charybdis, the beautiful enchantress Circe, and the land of the raging Cyclôpes. Using narrative threads from The Iliad and The Odyssey, Padraic Colum weaves a stunning adventure with all the drama and power that Homer intended.

Bulfinch's Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable by Thomas Bulfinch

ISBN-10 : 0486411079

Vivid myths of Greece and Rome, plus stories of Norse gods and heroes. Zeus and Hera, Apollo, Jason and the golden fleece, the wanderings of Ulysses and Aeneas, the deeds of Thor, many more. First published in 1855, Bulfinch's Mythology has introduced generations of readers to the great myths of Greece and Rome, as well as time-honored legends of Norse mythology, medieval, and chivalric tales, Oriental fables, and more. Readers have long admired Bulfinch's versions for the skill with which he wove various versions of a tale into a coherent whole, the vigor of his storytelling, and his abundant cross-references to poetry and painting, demonstrating the relationship of literature and art. Now The Age of Fable, the first section of the Mythology, is available in this inexpensive, highly readable edition. Drawing on the works of Homer, Ovid, Virgil, and other classical authors, as well as an immense trove of stories about the Norse gods and heroes, The Age of Fable offers lively retellings of the myths of the Greek and Roman gods: Venus and Adonis, Jupiter and Juno, Daphne and Apollo, and many others. The myths and legends so vividly retold in this volume underlie much of the art, literature, and culture of Western civilization. As Bulfinch put it, "Without a knowledge of mythology, much of the elegant literature of our own language cannot be understood and appreciated." With this inexpensive edition of The Age of Fable, readers can immerse themselves in these seminal myths, increasing their appreciation and understanding of Western culture, while enjoying the myths purely as the great stories they are.

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