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World Civilisations Topic

Children’s books about Benin Kingdom and Early Islamic Civilisation

The National Curriculum states that pupils should learn about a non-European society that provides contrasts with British history, including one study chosen from: early Islamic civilisation, Maya civilisation and the Kingdom of Benin. While many schools are familiar with the topic of the Maya (see our separate booklist here), the other societies listed tend to be less well-known to teachers. We’ve put together a list of recommended children’s books to support the topics of Benin Kingdom and Early Islamic Civilisation.

Recommended books about the Kingdom of Benin

Dinah Orji
Chapter book

Set in the ancient kingdom of Benin, this is both a fascinating insight into an ancient way of life as well as a well-told adventure story. This would make a perfect class read for KS2 and would fit in beautifully with the National Curriculum topic of Ancient Benin.

Paul Mason
Non-fiction
This book explores what life was really like for everyday people in Ancient Benin. Using primary sources and information from archeological discoveries, it uncovers some fascinating insights and explodes some myths. Supported by timelines, maps and references to important events and people, children will really feel they are on a time-travelling journey when reading this book.
Izzi Howell
Non-fiction
Benin was an important kingdom in West Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries. Find out about Benin's magnificent capital city, the objects that Benin traded with Europe and their intricate bronze plaques and statues. Read about food and farming, armies and weapons, the life of a craftsman and how to make a leopard statue! Packed with fascinating information, the Explore! series inspires children's curiosity to find out more about the past. A useful tool for readers age 8+ or teachers looking for books to support the curriculum.
Sonya Newland
Non-fiction
Which genius ideas and inventions began in the Benin Kingdom? What did the people of the Benin Kingdom develop that we use to this day? Find out how a collection of separate villages and communities grew into a strong, united kingdom and developed a network of successful trading relationships. Discover the brilliant developments in town planning, language, art and medicine that have influenced the way we live today.

Tim Cooke
Non-fiction
Discover the weird and wacky history of the kingdom of Benin! Did the kings of Benin really keep pet leopards? Did spirits live in the African rainforest? And did bicycles REALLY destroy the Benin kingdom? A Question of History: The Kingdom of Benin answers all these questions and much more. With an engaging question and answer format, this series draws young readers into the fascinating, sometimes gruesome, world of famous peoples and civilisations through history. Each spread opens with a simple question, opening up an exploration of an aspect of the life of a people or civilisation and busting some popular myths along the way!

Recommended books about Early Islamic Civilisation

Don Nardo
Non-fiction
Daily Life in the Islamic Golden Age is an accessible information text offers an insight into what everyday life might have looked like in the Golden Age of Islam, including Baghdad around AD900. There is a focus on historical evidence and primary sources and the text is supported by high quality illustrations including maps and timelines.
Saviour Pirotta
 & Freya Hartas
Chapter book
This fast-paced story is set in the Islamic Golden Age when Baghdad was considered the largest and most dazzling city in the world. Perfect for fans of thrilling adventure. Thirteen-year-old Jabir is hoping to save his family from being made homeless by finding work in Baghdad. Famished after his long journey to the city, Jabir is caught stealing bread and sent to prison. Luckily, one of the guards there notices that he has a gift for carving wooden models and he is released on the orders of the grand caliph Harun al Rashid himself. In return Jabir must carve twelve golden horsemen, a gift from the caliph to the emperor Charlemagne. But someone is determined to stop Jabir from completing the work and he will stop at nothing, not even arson, to achieve his aim. Can Jabir and his friend Yasmina finish the horsemen or will Jabir be sent back to prison? This exciting and readable adventure story is packed with great characters and insight into Islamic civilisation and the historic culture of the Middle East circa AD 900, a period which is now studied in the National Curriculum.
National Geographic Kids
Non-fiction
We often think that people from a thouand years ago were living in the Dark Ages. But from the 7th century onward in Muslim civilisation there were amazing advances and inventions that still influence our everyday lives. People living in the Muslim world saw what the Egyptians, Chinese, Indians, Greek and Romans had discovered and spent the next one thousand years adding new developments and ideas. Inventors created marvels like the elephant water clock, explorers drew detailed maps of the world, women made scientific breakthroughs and founded universities, architects built huge domes larger than anywhere else on earth. astronomers mapped the stars and so mucn more! This book takes the winning formula of facts, photos and fun, and it applies it to this companion book to the 1001 inventions exhibit from the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation. Each page is packed with information on this little-known history, but also shows how it still applies to our world today.
Izzi Howell
Non-fiction
Early Islamic civilisation spread across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia in the 7th and 8th centuries CE, forming a massive empire. Find out about the birth of Islam, amazing inventions and trade across the empire. Read about weapons and war, the city of Baghdad, the life of a scribe, science and medicine and find out how to make an Islamic tile design! Packed with fascinating information, the Explore! series inspires children's curiosity to find out more about the past. A great tool for readers age 8+ or teachers looking for books to support the curriculum.

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