British History

You can find other relevant books on our pages about the First World War and the Second World War.

A Street through Time
Illustrated by Steve Noon
(Dorling Kindersley)
Subtitled ‘a 12000 year journey along the same street’, each of the 14 double-page spreads in this book shows the same street at a different period of history from prehistoric times to the present day.  Each picture is  packed full of fascinating detail with the fronts of the houses cut away to show the activity inside. The small amount of text gives background information for the period and challenges the reader to find particular people and events in the picture. But that challenge is hardly necessary – the pictures are so interesting that you are drawn into them and the more you look, the more  you see. There are squabbling children, family crises and delightful touches of humour – all of which combine to make these people from the past come alive in a way rarely achieved in a more orthodox history book. This is a wonderful book for
all ages  and a great source of ideas for creative writing.
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The Usborne History of Britain
(Usborne Publishing)
Covering British history from pre-historic times to the millenium celebrations in 2000, this 500 page reference book is packed with illustrations and interesting facts. Although dates are given where necessary, the emphasis is on events and social history – an approach which makes the book very readable and fun to dip into. The book has a section for each of the historical periods (Roman Britain, Early Middle Ages, etc) and the end material includes places to visit, novels and films with historical backgrounds and a timeline. This is a good choice for the family bookshelf as it will interest a wide range of ages, including adults.
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Children in Victorian Times
by Jill Barber
Victorian photographs and extracts from contemporary accounts add authenticity and interest to this account of life for children in Victorian times. The book looks at British children from all classes but concentrates particularly on the poorest with sections on child labour, punishment and workhouses. It also covers the growth of education for ordinary children and the ways children’s lives changed during the period. This book is a useful resource for KS2 history as well as for projects in local history and it’s a worthwhile addition to the school or class library.
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The Story of London
by Richard Brassey
Packed with fascinating facts, this history of London would be great to read before or during a trip to the capital. The cartoon style illustrations and well-broken text make it look accessible and fun, encouraging ever reluctant readers to dip into its pages.
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Britannia: 100 Great Stories from British History
by Geraldine McCaughrean
The hundred stories in this book come from a variety of periods ranging from 1100BC to 1993. Some are well-known, some less so and a few are really legends. But all are told with Geraldine McCaughrean’s great skill so they capture the reader’s imagination and are great to read aloud. A sidebar for each story provides the actual facts behind it.
Ages 8+
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The Young Oxford History of Britain and Ireland
(Oxford University Press)
Aimed at older, able readers, this account of British history runs from the Ice Age to the year 2000. It presents history as a flow rather than a string of isolated events, showing how one event lead to another and how ordinary people’s lives changed. The many contemporary pictures and quotations help to give the information more relevance. Although the information
is very interesting, it is presented in a serious way, with large blocks of text and no jokes or cartoons to tempt reluctant readers. It’s therefore most suitable for a library or for a real history enthusiast.
Ages 10+
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Bloody Scotland
by Terry Deary
Of course, most of the Horrible History series deal with British history. But these are the two that deal with the whole span of time rather than just one specific period. Full of jokes and gory details, they are sure to appeal to Terry Deary fans.
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Buy England from Amazon

Home Life in the 1930s and 40s
by Faye Gardner with Joyce Williams
A Wartime Childhood
by Rebecca Hunter with Angela Downey
School Life in the 1940s and 50s
by Faye Gardner with Anne Richardson
These three titles come from a series called Family Scrapbook and each tells one person’s story through memories and photos. Joyce, in the 1930s and 40s book, grew up on a farm, and our 9 year old reviewers were particularly interested in the problems of paraffin heaters that smelt and made the rooms so damp that the wallpaper fell off. In A Wartime Childhood, Angela tells how she was evacuated to Devon, far away from her brothers who were sent to Yorkshire and, in the third book, Anne describes life at her primary school and grammar school in the North of England. The text is clear and easy to read and the photos provide extra details. But our reviewers wanted more information than the books contained, so these shouldn’t be relied
on as the sole source of information for a project.
(With thanks to the children of Gurnard Primary School)
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Buy A Wartime Childhood from Amazon
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