Saturday, August 27, 2005

Review: "Archaeology for Kids"

A Review of Archaeology for Kids: Uncovering the Mysteries of Our Past – Richard Panchyk
Reviewed By Mary C. Gildersleeve

Archaeology for Kids: Uncovering the Mysteries of Our Past, by Richard Panchyk: I am always very receptive to this kind of book -- suggestions for activities kids will enjoy completing, factual data presented in a pleasing way, and an author who obviously loves the subject matter. The book recommends the book for children aged nine and up. Sounds like it would be a great resource for homeschoolers, yes?

Well, I think it would be useful for some home bookshelves, but not for all. First, I don’t think the “age 9” is do-able. It seems to me the level of the activities and the text are more suited to a very interested 11- or 12-year-old and up. However, the text contains no pronunciation key for any of the terms, and some of the technical terms do not even have contextual definitions. Although there is a glossary in the back, this too doesn’t tell the reader how to pronounce some of the unusual words and is not an exhaustive glossary – many of the technical terms used in the book are not in the glossary.

Taking into consideration the above shortfalls, this book would still be a useful resource in the homeschool classroom, particularly for a student interested in history or archaeology. The material is written by an author who is very interested in the subject matter. The chapters progress in a roughly chronological way: from “how archaeology works”, through the first peoples, the Ice and Stone ages, the first civilizations (including their economic base), and then on to the Greeks and Romans and the ancient cultures of the New World.

Mr. Panchyk is covering much ground here and so his information is going to be broad-brush rather than fine-point. But this book would be useful as a supplementary resource when studying ancient cultures or to pique the student’s interest in archaeology and help them to follow-up with other resources. For a high school student, this would be a wonderful “elective” to tag onto history class as he goes into detail of how archaeology is done.

Obtainable through local bookstores or, here are the “stats” on this book -- Reading level: Ages 9-12; Paperback: 146 pages; Publisher: Chicago Review Press (October 1, 2001); ISBN: 1556523955; Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 11.1 x 0.4 inches.

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