Here are a couple of books that I’m reading for my five year-old niece Isabella. They are in Danish (actually some excellent English children’s books that have been translated to Danish). I read them as bedtime stories to her every night. She’s really got a thing for Greek Mythology, which I’m really happy about. I mean weren’t the Ancient Greeks the greatest civilization ever?
1. The Orchard Book of Greek Myths
I have nothing but praise for The Orchard Book of Greek Myths and the talented storyteller Geraldine McCaughrean. The stories are re-told in a clear and simple way yet still captivating and the glorious illustrations by Emma Chichester Clark work very well with the text. There are 16 myths in total. This is probably the best collection of Greek myths for children out there, having also read Greek Myths by Anna Claybourne, which is also okay but dry and overall uninspiring. Last night we re-read the myth of “Persephone and the Pomegranate seeds”. A moving story about Hades, God of the Underworld abducting Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, the Goddess of the Harvest. The myth gives an interesting insight into why the Greeks believed they had winter and summer months. Isabella finds the myth captivating and is saddened by Persephone’s cries for her mother. It’s really a moving story. I find it adorable to hear her use difficult words as “Persephone” and “Demeter”. She’s also surprised me yesterday night with remembering the name of “Hermes” the messenger of the Gods that has winged sandals.
I’ve been reading this book to Isabella in Danish for the last couple of months and she’s responded very well to them. Her favourites being Pandora’s Box, Prometheus, and Daedalus and Icarus. If you have a child that is curious about the Ancient Greeks or as a parent you want to introduce them to this world of Greek Mythology, then start with this book. It’s Bella Recommended!
Tip for Parents: Start out with small stories, introducing Ancient Greece. I usually read about something and condense the information into easy and exiting parts for a story. Repetition is key. Start with Zeus, Poseidon and Hades and explain their dominion, and a little about the struggle for the heavens, gradually adding more as you go along and see fit. Once, your child has a basic understanding of the three Gods, start with The Orchard Book of Greek Myths. This not only sets the scene but the child will pick out the words that it is already familiar with, inspiring confidence and interest.
Danish: Græske Myter: De Evige Fortællinger, by Geraldine McCaughrean
ISBN: 9788777212406, DKK 198.
English: The Orchard Book of Greek Myths, by Geraldine McCaughrean
ISBN: 1852133732, £12.99.
If you’re looking to buy the Danish translation, it’s difficult to find, as it’s sold out from the publisher: Forlaget Klematis. Your best luck is to check your local library.
2. The Solar System
Another book, that’s her favourite is on astronomy. The Solar System (Usborne Beginners), is a wonderful yet educational book explaining the basics for children who are curious about outer space and the planets. Isabella’s been staring at the Moon whenever there’s good visibility and has been asking a lot about outer space, so I thought I’ll check out a book for her from the local library, which fitted the criterion of being easy to read to children. I do also believe I might have influenced her in some way because she’s fascinated about what I do. I work in space administration and have meetings in Paris at ESA. She has her own pink ESA T-shirt that she’s proud of and a ESA Remove Before Flight Keychain on her schoolbag.
Each planet is described, with interesting characteristics and pictures. For example, Mercury is four times hotter than boiling water, are just some of the facts listed, Isabella remembers. In addition to this book, I have also bought a poster of the solar system that hangs on the wall of her bed that we reference to every night during bedtime. She recites all the names of the planets; why they were named such and small facts about them, for example, Mars is the third planet from the Sun and is called the red planet because ancients believed that there was war, fire and destruction and is named after the Roman God of War or in Greek: Ares. In all it takes about two minutes and is a great way for them to fall asleep. Do check this book out. It’s Bella Recommended!