Title: What Really Happened in Ancient Times
Compiled by: Terri Johnson
Written by: Terri Johnson, Karla Akins, Jennaya Dunlap, Kathleen L. Jacobs, Jocelyn James, Terri and Nicole Johnson, N. R. S. Laurents, Susannah Rice
Series: What Really Happened
Major Themes: Eve, Noah, Flood, Gilgamesh, Babylon, Joseph, Daniel, Cyrus, Eratosthenes, Constantine, Ancient Times, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Persia, Ancient Rome
Synopsis: Eight short stories describe what life may have been like for various people from ancient times.
What is the best way to learn about history? How can you best remember what happened in the past? For me, anyway, a story is the best way. If I read a story, I can remember what happened much better than if I read a textbook that just lays out the facts. Terri Johnson has put together a collection of stories in What Really Happened in Ancient Times to help children remember some of the events of the past.
There are eight stories in this collection, written by seven different authors. Each story takes a person from the past, except one which tells of a mythical person, and fleshes out that person and his or her times. We found all of these stories very interesting. These authors have done a good job of bringing the past to life!
The first story is about Eve. In it, the author imagines what life may have been like in the early days of the world, and how Eve felt about the Fall and her role in it. The next story is about Noah and his family, and how they built the Ark and survived the Flood. Next comes a story about Gilgamesh. This is a retelling of a legend that has been found inscribed on clay tablets in Mesopotamia, and gives some glimpses into life in that area in the centuries immediately after the Flood. Imhotep is the star of the fourth story, and this one tells about how Jacob’s family moved to Egypt.
About a thousand years are skipped before the fifth story, which stars Daniel. It begins with his capture in Jerusalem and how he lived in Babylon. The next story describes what we know about Cyrus the Great. After that, we move to Alexandria and learn about the life of Eratosthenes and how he measured the size of the Earth. The last story is about Constantine and how he legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire.
What Really Happened in Ancient Times is not a history curriculum on its own, but makes a great supplement to any study of ancient times. We read each chapter as we came to that era in our study. Because the stories stand alone, there is no need to read this book all at once.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15, 15 and Above