12 October 2008

Climbing the Viking branch of our family tree

There is something about the Vikings that really grabs the attention of our kids, particularly the boys.... could it be the swords and the tendency to engage in battles or sailing the seas exploring the world (flat as they believed it was)? Knowing that they have Viking ancestry sparked the kids' imagination even more.

The vikings certainly had a fascinating history, and although they were not known for their peace loving nature, there are aspects that are to be admired - their adventurous side, sailing around discovering new places, establishing trade routes. They left behind a treasure of sagas telling us about their history, and a collection of wisdom known as the Håvamål.

Here are some of the books that we have enjoyed reading while learning about Vikings:

1. "The vikings are coming" by Mauri Kunnas
Sirpa and Teemu sent us this book and we love you for it!! Kauri Munnas is a Finnish author and illustrator, well known for his book about Santa Claus. I love what he has done with his book on vikings.

This is a collection of fun-filled stories written in the style and spirit of the old Norse sagas. Although fictional the stories are based on and supported by historical information about the Vikings. The madcap humour makes it a very entertaining way to learn history from wonderful characters such as Gunnar Goatfiord and Thorleif Tuneless sharing their stories. My favourite story is the one about Buttercup the Cow in the New World and lactose intolerance.....

2. "Viking Longship" by Mick Manning and Brita Granström.
This book is part of a series called "Fly on the wall". It's a historical picturebook in which we follow the life of a longship called "the Sea Dragon" and the vikings who sailed in her. The style is almost a scrapbook-style with each double page spread offering a colourful tableaux describing the various aspects of viking life - both the raiders and the wives and children at home. Across the bottom of the pages there is a strip containing historical facts. The pages are beautifully laid out, the illustrations are eye-catching and the information easily accessible. A great read!
For a perfect snack after a hungry read, there is a recipe for Birka bread. Beautiful newly made with some butter and/or cheese on it..... mmmm

3. DK EyeWitness "Viking"
The award-winning EyeWitness series is one of my favourite series for children's non-fiction/reference. The lay-out is always wonderful, almost like a museum-tour, and the text is readable.

"Viking" is no exception. It provides and in depth look at Viking history through a study of life in that era. There is the DK trademark stunning photographs of longships, weapons, jewellery and other artifacts. Alongside we find explanatory captions, and tidbits of information in bitesize pieces. It can be read from cover-to-cover, but each 2 page spread is a stand-alone section that we can dip into for a casual read.

For other viking related activities try
Who were the vikings?


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