Chinese History Lesson -- Back to School Ideas

Disclosure: Tuttle Publishing gave me these books free of charge for this review. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

So far we have had lessons on building imaginations, books for young learners, and science. Today we are going to look at world history with books about Chinese history. We will start with What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? by Chiu Kwong-chiu and Eileen Ng and translation by Ben Wang.

This book explores the history of the various emperors of China as well as what life was like as emperor. It starts with the beginning of emperors of China: the three legendary sovereigns of China and the five legendary emperors. Then in the year 200 BC Yingzhen of the Qin unified the states of China and became the first emperor.
The belief was that the emperor had power bestowed by heaven. The book goes into details of the jobs of the emperor as well as the family of the emperor. During the Qing dynasty the number of maids in the palace was not to exceed 2,000 and during the Ming dynasty it was reported that there were sometimes as many as 9,000 palace maids and 100,000 eunuchs. The emperor had the empress as well as an imperial noble consort, two noble consorts, four consorts, six imperial concubines and unlimited numbers of noble ladies, first class female attendants and second class attendants. With the birth of a child the woman's status moved up. 
The book also tells about each of the emperors in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The last emperor, Puyi, was crowned at age three!! Can you imagine? It is such an interesting history and lifestyle. The illustrations are vague as you can see in the sample pages, but they give the general ideas of what the book is saying without showing incorrect details.
Next we will look at Cang Jie: The Inventor of Chinese Characters by Li Jian. Cang Jie lived during the reign of the Yellow Emperor (around 2500 BC). He was the official historian for the Yellow Emperor. However at that time there was no writing. They used little stones to record events. As the number of events increased this became very difficult. Next came the knotted method. This however proved to be inaccurate at times. Cang Jie searched for a way to keep track of things for the emperor. After watching a hunter follow the animal tracks of a specific animal, Cang Jie came up with the idea of simple pictures to represent things. These simple pictures turned into the Chinese characters that are still used today. It is one of the most ancient writing systems in the world and is still used. What an amazing accomplishment!


This book is in both English and Chinese. It has beautiful pictures from an ancient time. I love how it tells the various ways of recording information along the way and how Cang Jie came up with the idea of the characters.

Our final book for today is Genghis Khan: The Brave Warrior Who Bridged East and West by Li Jian. In 1162 on the Mongolian Plateau a baby named Temujin was born. His father died when he was young and Temujin claimed his father's position as chief, but the tribe members refused to be led by a young boy. They left and took the tribe's sheep and horses away. Temujin was determined to rebuild the tribe. He practiced archery every day. He studied the animals to learn war tactics. As an adult he had strong alliances with his brothers and supporters and brought back his people and animals. He led the warriors through many wars and he became a hero. The began to call him Genghis Khan which means universal ruler. He and his descendants conquered Eurasia. His grandson became the founder of the Yuan Dynasty. 
This book is also in English and Chinese. It tells the story of one of the most famous Asian warriors and goes even further into history about the Silk Road as well as some of the history of the Yuan Dynasty. 

I hope you enjoyed our look at Chinese history and check out these books for yourself. For more on China be sure to check out: All About China, Chinese Cinderella, Mulan, Chinese CalligraphyChinese New Year, Chinese Lantern Festival and Zodiac, and Chinese Folktales.