With my daughter’s current interest in the past British Kings and Queens I have been looking for a comprehensive book for her. We have a couple of books that deals with individuals or groups of Kings and Queens but nothing that covers all of them.
I happened to spot the Kings and Queens (History of Britain) at our local library and immediately brought it home for her. It has been such a hit. This book is perfect for her current interest and I really have been so impressed with it that I am going to be adding our own copy to the family bookshelf just because I think it is a little gem of British History for the kids. So here is what is included it this book.
It starts with the Rise of the Kings and it the perfect starting point because it explains the background to how Alfred the Great came to be King of Wessex. I really liked that it includes this as at the starting point and does not just launch into Alfred the Great. The kids need to get that understanding that Britain was a land of tribes with warrior chiefs and a land of multiple invasions.
It also talks about Wales and Scotland which I thought was good because I want my kids to understand that they were originally separate Kings.
They do talk about the significant battles – like Battle of Hastings but not in detail (and that is the same for other battles – the signficant ones are mentioned but it is never in a lot of detail).
It goes onto the Normans and again they bring in a section called fighting for Scotland which I thought was good. Then the Plantagenet, Balliol and Bruce which really cover the Medieval Kings.
Onto the Stewarts, Lancaster and York – my daughter has been reading a lot about the Tudors recently and she really liked this section as it gave her a lot more context and background to the build up to what happened later.
And then the Tudors and Stewarts. As I mentioned this is an area we have been reading about but even still I noticed my daughter took her time going through these pages. She still found them informative and actually a few times she paged back to remind herself of something. For me this is what makes this book so special, it gives context to so much of the History that we take for granted. And it explains a lot about the times, by reading about the ruler you get an excellent insight into how the country was changing and evolving over time.
Henry VIII is covered in more detail compared to most other Kings but then I think we do consider him a significant ruler (8 pages in total).
My daughter’s one complaint about this book was that Mary I, Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots were not covered in more detail – but that really is because she finds these 3 so fascinating and is reading everything she can find about them.
Next the Stuarts. (which is about where my daughter has reached). Again they have included context for the kings which I find very important. A bit about the religious issues of the time, issues with parliament, the civil war and a section on Oliver Cromwell and the Dutch invasion.
Then the Hanoverians. We have skipped ahead and already read the 6 pages on Queen Victoria just because she was an impressive Queen and my daughter commented on the Family Tree that was included here. There are family trees through the book which are very useful but this one got particular attention because it showed the link between Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II.
And finally the Windsors.
After the Windsors they have included another very useful section called Factfiles which breaks down some royal information like the different jewels, palaces, awards and ceremonies.
So although this is a book about the concession of the Kings and Queens it also includes the events of the time which makes sense to me. You need to be able to put the various Kings and Queens into context and this book does just that. And by doing so it really does become more that just a list of Kings and Queens that ruled Britain it does become a wonderful summary of the British History starting with Alfred the Great and going through to Queen Elizabeth II.
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