Time Traveling Book for Kids


Susan has found a a great book for all of the kids out there ready for a little time traveling. Here is her latest book review:

A Street Through Time: A 12,000-Year Walk Through History, written by Dr. Anne Millard, illustrated by Steve Noon.

One of the toughest things to teach kids is the concept of time. I’m not talking about the desperate “five minutes, one minute, now, now, I really mean it, NOW!” to get your offspring out the door for school. I mean giving your children a sense of the past, the ability to understand that an awful lot happened in the world before they were born.

Just telling kids that a building is “even older than Granddad!” gets tired quickly, especially for Granddad. So it might be time to reach for A Street Through Time: A 12,000-Year Walk Through History.

Each page of the book shows the same “street” during a different era, from a small, stone-age farming settlement in 10,000 B.C. to a modern city. The colorful illustrations stretch across both oversized pages, and every inch is necessary – each tiny person, depicted in careful detail, is doing something interesting. Early farmers hunt with bows and arrows, while Victorian city-dwellers arrive at a train station and buy cloth in a store. Many of the buildings have the walls “cut away” so the interiors are visible. Each page gets more and more crowded as the bucolic landscape is edged out by factories and apartment buildings and the people multiply.

It’s possible to spend minutes or much, much longer on each page, depending on the age and attention span of your child. For younger children, this is definitely a “reach” book, although they might enjoy looking at the animals, boats, and trains. Older kids will love comparing the different houses, clothes, and technologies of each era. The toilets and bathrooms (or lack thereof) may be especially fascinating. It’s also fun to find Henry Hyde, a “time traveler” from a present day museum, on each page, à la Where’s Waldo?.

A Street Through Time, however, does contain some violent and unsavory elements, though fewer than most Where’s Waldo? books. Several of the streets are destroyed by wars, and one page depicts a plague. Hunters shoot animals, factories pollute the sky, and people are wounded. You’re the best judge of whether your child can handle a less-varnished view of history. If they – and you – can, the trip is worth it.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications.

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