Books for Teaching History: School Holiday Special

A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich

Little-History-World-CoverThis post should probably be called books for loving history, as this is a book not for teaching, but for enjoying.  Although there is a fair chance some learning will happen amidst all the enjoying.

With winter school holidays upon us, what better time is there to curl up with a good book for yourself or to share with your children.

A Little History of the World is a delightful book originally written in German in 1936, republished in 1985 and translated to English in 2005.  Gombrich tells the history of the world as if it is the most fascinating and delightful story ever written.  He speaks to children in his writing, but adult readers will find equal pleasure in reading it.

In this concise and very readable book he covers the history of man from prehistoric times to the Second World War.  Gombrich explores the bigger picture of time, human achievement and human weaknesses.  He does not simply relay facts and figures.  It is more like he has sat down beside you to tell you a story.

While still quite Euro-centric, he manages to cover different parts of the world and the most recognisable eras, events and people.  Like any good story he begins with ‘Once Upon a Time’, but he finishes with a very personal and thoughtful account of his experience of WW2.

We highly recommend this book for teachers, parents and children.  Reading it may remind you that some of the best stories are not works of fiction, but are truths of our past.   Gombrich’s love of history is infectious.  The book is available online, in many bookshops and also as an iTunes audio book.


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