Today we have a book that has been gently receiving attention for years. A Little History of the World by Ernst H. Gombrich is a wonderful little book that is a piece of history of it’s own. Gombrich wrote the book in 1935 in just six weeks (how this came about is a story in itself). Written in Vienna, the original was published in German, but soon caught on and was translated into many other languages. It was not, however, translated into English until 2005. Intended for children, this “little” book has vast appeal for all ages, and has been slowly gaining in popularity.
Have you seen it yet? It starts a little lightly, with “Once upon a time…” but don’t let that fool you. Grombrich had just finished a PhD in Art History and he had the depth of knowledge to write an overview of history that is really a “big picture” view. It is not like a textbook at all. It travels chronologically through time, mainly through the stories of the lives of famous figures. What I really liked about it is it covers what is happening in Asia as well as Europe, something that was definitely lacking in my America-centric history lessons from school. I found it gave a structure to many disjointed facts and ideas I had gleaned from various sources, a backbone that made the parts come together as a more complete whole.
The book is a fast read and is also fun for reading aloud with children.
I would love to hear if you have read it and what you think of it.
An excerpt from the first chapter is available online at NPR.
A link to a Yale Press podcast with the author’s granddaughter (the book also contains most of this information in the Preface.) She reveals how the book came about, putting it into the context of its time.
Publisher: Yale University Press (October 7, 2008)
Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by the new Nonfiction Monday blog to see who is hosting each week. This week’s post is at Wild About Nature.