Looking for a way to get middle grade (and older) students excited to read about history? You need to go no further than our newest title nominated for the 2015 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category, Guts & Glory: The Vikings by Ben Thompson.
As the author points out in the “Author’s Note” at the beginning of the book, the Vikings are prevalent in our popular culture, ranging from the names of football teams to characters in movies. Much of what is portrayed, however, can be misleading or downright wrong. For example, ask anyone to draw a Viking and he or she will probably draw a figure with a horned helmet, yet hard evidence shows that real Viking helmets never had horns. To correct the errors, the author has done extensive research to bring the most current understanding of Vikings history to the reader.
Ben Thompson has a distinctive voice that is incredibly fun to read. He writes about the Vikings in an authoritative, and yet loosely conversational way, using words like “cool” and “sweet.” It is somewhat reminiscent of Elizabeth Levy’s hugely popular America’s Horrible History series, which my family devoured again and again. As Ben Thompson says in this “History is Awesome” article, he writes history like he would have wanted to read it, and he has succeeded in creating something memorable.
Guts & Glory: The Vikings is a meaty middle grade title that would definitely appeal to older and reluctant readers, including young adults. History buffs will love it, and those who aren’t history buffs are likely to be inspired to find a new passion.
Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (June 9, 2015)
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Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.