About two years ago, I decided to read a kid friendly world history book to my children (aged 7 and 10 at the time), and settled on Gombrich’s, “A Little History of the World.”
Beyond the book, I thought it might also be fun and informative for us to watch some selected videos related to the history topic of each chapter. That simple sounding idea of watching history videos for kids then took on a life of its own. The book is so broad, that you can’t hope to cover everything from a chapter in a single dvd.
History videos for kids can provide a little more depth on a topic, and images to make the history more tangible and memorable. The book, on the other hand, provides a useful structure to organize the videos, in addition to being a pretty good read in its own right. Our approach was to read a chapter, watch a companion video once a week, and chat about our favorite parts. One of the more difficult aspects of this emergent history videos for kids project was simply finding suitable history videos for kids.
Good, interesting history videos that appeal to kids do exist, but are often difficult to locate. For example, they rarely turn up in ones’ first topical searches on Amazon, even when they eventually turn out to have a listing on the site. Nevertheless, I managed to put together a set of history videos for kids corresponding to the chapters in Gombrich’s book. Given the challenges in hunting these down, I compiled a list as a reference to others who may be interested in one or all of the topics. Here is the list of World History Videos for Kids in pdf format that you can download. There are links within the file that take you to Amazon’s descriptions of the videos. This is not an ad for Amazon! I’ve just made the links for information purposes. You can get most of these history videos from Netflix or your local library (or from my local library, anyway).
Over the course of the project, I learned a lot about history documentaries that appeal to kids. I used to think my kids would watch anything that was on TV, but it turns out they do have limits. One thing I learned is that the Amazon customer reviews and ratings are useless for predicting acceptability for a kid audience. Amazon history customers love long, in-depth documentaries that convey the period flawlessly. My kids’ favorite history videos were short (45 min or less), storylike, had some kind of cool graphics and period recreations, and were action-packed. Yeah, right, who would have thought kids would want that? I did adjust my selections to fit those criteria to a large extent, meaning that history purists may well gag at some the titles listed. I also did learn over and over that less is more, and found that watching half of a longer video would often work just fine. This is recommended for some of these history videos for kids’ viewing.
You can also read my reviews for a few of these videos written with the kid-context in mind on Amazon. If you find any of the reviews to be of some use, feel free to judge it “helpful” on the Amazon review page.
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