Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Non-Fiction
History Year by Year

History Year by Year

Spring 2014 Non-Fiction
Ages: 9 - 15 yrs.
Publisher: DK Publishing
ISBN: 978-1465414182
Hardcover Price: $24.99

So here's the concept: Create a timeline of major historical events and personalities from the beginning of human history until now, and turn it into an attention-getting, attractively designed, hot-knowledge reference book called History Year By Year.

DK does this sort of thing all the time, and often does it better than anyone else. In this case, the British publishing house that hangs its hat on creating simplified, fully illustrated, easy-to-understand, compelling reference books for children and adults covering not-so-simple subjects has published a fascinating, fun-to-look-through collection of the significant tidbits from the past that, like grains of sand, create the beach of our entire history.

It's a rare page in this book where you'll find any entry longer than a paragraph, or one without an accompanying photo or illustration (there are more than 1,500 in the book!). That alone qualifies this as excellent bathroom reading for any reader of any age, but more likely the plan was to lure kids to this remarkable collection of historical nuggets—especially since DK collaborated with the Smithsonian on this book.

These pages are jam-packed with maps showing the routes of prehistoric migrations of peoples, historic architecture from Stonehenge to the crumbling World Trade Center each accompanied by a single paragraph explaining the significance, photos of relics from the 400BCE Zapotecs and Julius Caesar's Roman Empire to the 1920s Prohibition era in the United States and the late 1980s fall of Communism.

"History Year by Year" covers 3.5 million years of history in a large-format, 322 page book. Do the math. It actually works well! Don't ask me how. But for a history-trending student, this book is academic adrenalin smartly compacted between two covers.

Don Oldenburg   ©2014 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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