Much to Know About History

Besides camps, poison oak, blockbuster movies, vacations, and sunburn, summer is also known as a time when kids forget a little too much of what they spent the just-finished school year learning. But it doesn’t have to be that way. This is the first of several columns that will highlight some of the many ways you can help turn that dreaded summer brain drain into a brain gain. And there’s no better place to start than with history.

Little Guides to Great Lives (Laurence King)

little guides to greata livesOne of the best ways to learn about history is to read about the lives of the people who lived it. And this new series of books for young readers is excellent. Each of these 64-page books is charmingly illustrated and filled with stories, scenes, and fascinating nuggets from the subject’s life. So if you want to know how Nelson Mandela inspired the world, why Amelia Earhart is an aviation hero, what makes Leonardo da Vinci a genius, why Frida Kahlo is an art icon, and what Marie Curie did to become a science superstar, look no further. Although they’re written for children, adults will love these books too—and they’re perfect to read aloud. For ages 7+. $11.99.

Who Owns These Bones? (Laurence King)

who owns thesee bones?This book is a clever collaboration between an ethnologist (Henri Cap), a writer (Raphael Martin), and an illustrator (Renaud Vigourt), and the result is both engaging and educational. In it, you’ll learn more than you thought possible about skeletons, what makes each one unique, and how to tell similar ones (like a human and a gorilla) apart. You’ll also learn what skulls and other bones teach us about animal anatomy and how they developed (for example, did you know that tree frogs use their eyeballs to move their food from the front of their mouth back to the throat? Weird…) For ages 7+. $21.99.


Terrific Timelines (Laurence King

terrific timelilnesThis growing series takes readers on a meandering walk through a specific time period or theme and features press-out figures that become part of a physical timeline. Dinosaurs goes through the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous eras and introduces 20 dinosaurs, including a few we’d never heard of, such as Pachycephalosaurus, the one with the crash helmet head. You’ll learn when they lived, what they ate, what ate them, and more. Cars covers a much, much shorter period of time—starting in the 1880s with the first horseless carriages. It moves through classics like the original VW Beetle and the Jaguar XK120, and all the way up to the Tesla Model X and the Waymo self-driving car. There’s a concise history of each vehicle, and there’s plenty of trivia sprinkled throughout (such as the 2010 traffic jam in China that was 62 miles long and lasted 12 days. Who knew?). Ages 6+. Under $12.


My London: Color, Draw, Explore (Laurence King)

my londonPlanning a trip to Europe this summer? Interested in adding a history to the Harry Potter books? Or just love architecture? Whatever your reason, London is an amazing city and this book, illustrated by Majel van der Meulen, takes you on a tour of everything from the Shakespeare’s Globe Theater to the Cheese Grater and the Gherkin. And there’s plenty of history, trivia, and places to draw your own buildings along the way. There are even a few “With Love from London” postcards that you can use to fool your friends into thinking you went to London even if you didn’t. For ages 6+. About $10.


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