Take the highway to the past

29th October 2004 at 01:00
Elaine Dawe reviews series for key stage 12 pupils that use primary sources to stimulate the imagination

Travel Through Time series:

On the Road

Riding the Rails

By Jane Shuter

Raintree pound;10.99 each hardback

Life in the Past series:

Wartime Scrapbook

By Chris S Stephens

Pont BooksGomer Press pound;5.99, Teacher's Pack pound;19.99 (CD, posters and worksheets)

VictorianSchools

Victorian Homes

By Mandy ross

Heinemann Library pound;9.50 each hardback

An asset to any history resource collection, the Travel through Time series offers easily read text with well-suited pictures that encourage historical questioning

All kinds of transport have been considered, including the unusual, for example, sledges, so children can consider the environment and its impact on transport growth. The development of tracks and roads is considered alongside transport so the reader can make sense of both. It is good to see that labourers involved in the development of transport are included as they are often neglected in such books. The books end with a look at the implications for future transport.

Chris Stephens's Wartime Scrapbook is a great collection of primary source material about the Second World War, including letters and artefacts from the author's collection. The book includes a fascinating account of how treasures were stored in the mountains of north Wales, just the sort of history to fire imaginations and promote questions.

The book deals with social changes as a result of the war, and life for children as evacuees and at school. This is a great collection of sources that have been integrated into a coherent narrative.

The text and appearance of Victorian Schools and Victorian Homes in the Life in the Past series on aspects of Victorian life will appeal to key stage 1 pupils but some of the concepts, for example, the middle class and trades unions, may be difficult to grasp and some of the information is not easily accessible for independent research.

However, there are some useful visual sources which compare the lives of rich and poor, creating a striking contrast which will certainly enhance children's understanding of the period. Like the other books reviewed here, this series uses an excellent range of primary source material, including rhymes, photographs and artefacts.

Elaine Dawe is class teacher at Pucklechurch Primary School, south Gloucestershire

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