Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The History Book

DK Publishing, 2008.
299 pages.

I always think it's a good idea to interest kids in history (though, as I like to say, there's no future in it) and The History Book is a great way to get them started. This book is an ambitious attempt to cover the history of humanity in about 300 pages, so, predictably, it's going to have some flaws.

But first, what's good about it? It's bright and colorful and this is attractive to kids of all ages. It's short and snappy so you have enough to whet your appetite for more without getting bogged down in endless details. As well, it's lighthearted and silly which makes it far more readable than the history that most historians write.

So what are the problems with a book like this? Well, it's bright and colorful and that means serious subjects are sometimes treated in a cartoonish manner. You might not think this is always appropriate. It's short and snappy so details are sometimes limited. A few times, in an attempt to simply an event, it's arguable that they've simplified it so much that they've gotten it wrong. (Can you really simplify the history of Canada into one page?) As well, it's lighthearted and silly so the tone of the book sometimes seems sophomoric, or, more bluntly, childish (and I don't mean child-like).

All in all it's a pretty good attempt to write the history of the world. You may want to read it before you give it to your child since all history books have a bias in the way they write and this book is no exception. This will make it easier to talk about what your child has read.

It's a nice book and probably great for kids from about 10-15 years old.

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