The kids have loved all the Anglo-Saxon Historical Fiction books that we have been reading and although the books are very good at explaining which sections are fact and which are fictional I still wanted to reinforce some of the Facts and especially the order of events. So we once again we dug out our Early Kings of England: Band 14/Ruby (Collins Big Cat) reader and reread it together. This little reader has been read and reread multiple times by us.
When we first looked at the Vikings last year we read it for context, when my daughter was creating her timeline of Anglo-Saxon Kings she used it extensively for information. Really for a reader (yes this book is part of a reading scheme) it has been so incredibly useful for our History projects. So even though I have mentioned it a few times in multiple posts I have not actually written a proper “what is included” post about the book. So here goes.
It starts with the Romans leaving Britain in the early 400’s. Then the Angles and Saxons start invading and we get leaders like Hengist and Horsa, who were not really Kings but still significant leaders at that time. It talks about general Britain during that time – how the land was divided, Serfs and Masters, Sutton Hoo, the famous attack on Lindisfarne. All of this gives good background to the life during those times.
Then Alfred the Great, the King of Wessex – how he fortified bridges and built burhs, the treaty with Guthrum which lead to Danelaw and of course his children. Edward the Elder who took control after Alfred the Great and who was father to Athelstan the First King of England.
Then Edward the Martyr and Athelred the Unready. It also talks about St Brice’s Day and how that lead to Swein Forkbeard’s invasion and fight with Edmund Ironside.
It continues with Emma of Normandy, Cnut the Great and Edward the Confessor until we get to the Battle of Hastings.
So it covers a lot – not only the line of rules from Edward the Great until the Battle of Hastings but it also talks about the general environment at that time, key events, battles and other significant figures and really gives a build up to the Battle of Hastings.
This book is written as part of the BIG CAT reading series by Collins so it is aimed at children in Key Stage 2 years which means it is not a detailed account of every little event that happened. But we like that. For us this book has neatly summarized the key events, key characters and how they were all linked. It has been a GO-TO resource for both my kids and myself (yes I admit when I have not been sure about a few facts I have found this little reader very useful to dive into and quickly check 1 or 2 items). It is a great summary and a “brilliant building block” for this historical period. It is one of those books that my daughter has turned to time and time again as she has further investigated the Anglo-Saxons, for the very reason that in order to do more detailed research she needed to understand the Key characters and events of that time. And this book did just that for her it was her springboard.
For my eight-year old son this book was exactly the right fit – not too much detail but enough that he could understand what happened and who did what.
For a reader we have found this to be a little historical gem that we have used over and over and I have a feeling it will still get dug out again in the future.
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