Teaching Ancient Civilizations Using Children’s Literature: Ancient China


Ancient China from Dorling Kindersly’s Eyewitness series is a wonderful guidebook that allows the reader to discover the history of Imperial China, from the Great Wall to the days of the last emperor. The book is very informative and highly engaging. It features wonderful photographs of scenery and artifacts by skilled photographers, Alan Hills & Geoff Brighling. This book is very comprehensive and covers 26 different sections on Ancient China which allows for days upon days of exploration for the reader.  The format of the book allows the reader to read as little or as much as they would like about Ancient China, as the reader does not have to read the book cover to cover to gather an adequate knowledge about the topic. The book is written in a fashion that helps take the reader through a virtual tour of China, with sections discussing it’s earliest beginnings to information about China’s emperors, to information about the lifestyle of the Chinese (food, traditions, livelihood, home life, dress, adornment, etc.). In addition to the amazing photographs the book’s content includes time lines,suggested internet resources, and a helpful glossary. This book would be an excellent read for the inquisitive mind and would be a great resource for teaching about ancient civilizations. Both teachers and students would find this book wonderful and interesting and I think this a good book for the upper elementary classroom. The book is written by Arthur Cotterell and is one of many published by the highly proclaimed Dorling Kindersly.

Curriculum Connections
Ancient China is a great and would be most approparite for VA SOL History 2.1 in which the student is expected to explain how the contributions of ancient China and Egypt have influenced the present world in terms of architecture, inventions, the calendar, and written language. Although some of the content and wording in the book may be too advanced for second graders the information can easily be relayed in a more age/grade appropriate manner by the teacher.

Additional Resources

  • Great website for kids on Ancient China
  • Website full of Ancient China lesson plans (for teachers)
  • Website with tons of Chinese and Ancient China related coloring pages and other kid friendly activities
  • Teacher could hold a Chinese culture day, this website provides ideas and recipes for Chinese dishes

Book: Eyewitness Books: Ancient China

Author:Arthur Cotterell

Illustrator: Photographs by Alan Hills & Geoff Brightling

Publisher: Dorling Kindersley

Publication Date: 2005

Pages: 71 pages

Grade Range: 2-6

10: 0-7566-1391-4

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