Civilisation goes back thousands of years, but a lot has changed over the intervening years, countries and cities change, people move on, empires rise and fall. How much do you actually know about these ancient civilisations and would you be able to help your children with their homework if the topic were to arise? History is a fascinating subject and looking back at some of these ancient civilisations we can see how much we have progressed as a human race, or in some respects stood still or regressed. Carole P. Roman has made it more interesting and child accessible to take a lot at some of these ancient civilisations in the If You Were Me and Lived in… series of books.
Carole P. Roman is an award-winning author and has written a fabulous series that looks at different countries and their cultures in her If You Were Me and Lived in… series. They started off introducing children aged 4-8 years old to other countries and cultures but later expanded for older children, adding in ancient civilisations, suitable for 8-11 years old.
We have already looked at books in the series from Asia, Europe and South America and now head off into Africa in If You Were Me and Lived in… the Ancient Mali Empire.
Mali, which means hippopotamus in the Mandinka language, is located in western Africa. It was a small part of the kingdom of Ghana before rebelling against the government and becoming a kingdom in their own right, emerging as the most powerful in Western Sudan.
We travel back nearly 700 years to the year 1332 when Mali was considered a vital trade centre and a world power to see what it would be like if we had lived in Mali in that era. This book is jam-packed with facts about the ancient West African kingdom.
As children read through the 77-page book they will learn about popular Malian children’s names that were popular at the time, religion, language, housing, marriage and family dynamics, education and the world-famous library in Timbuktu that people from all over the world would visit, trading and trade routes, droughts, occupations, ceremonies, clothing, food and gold.
The illustrations have been created by the very talented Mateya Arkova and seem to have been well researched to fit the time period and drawn beautifully in a cartoon kind of style with some nice pastel colouring. The illustrations do an excellent job of enhancing the story being told.
At the end of the book there are some pages about famous people in the Mali Empire, they all have a short biography paragraph each about who they were.
There is also a glossary at the back that lists the unfamiliar words, their meaning and child-friendly pronunciations.
Overall, If You Were Me and Lived in… the Ancient Mali Empire is a very good look at an ancient civilisation many have probably never heard about before (I certainly didn’t know that they used to be a world power). It is suitable for children 8 years old and above.
It is packed with interesting facts, told through the eyes of a child talking to you, and a non-fiction, factual history book that children will actually enjoy reading. The facts are short so are not overwhelming for young readers and you do get a taste of what life would have been like then.
RRP: £12.99 (Paperback)