Monday, May 7, 2012

Ancient World History (Greece): The Greek News

For  Nonfiction Monday, I am revisiting one of my favorite subjects:  Ancient Greece.   I spent months studying it with my own children while homeschooling.  I love teaching about it in college World Literature courses.    If you plan to study it formally or read about informally with your children, check out The Greek News: The Greatest Newspaper in Civilization.  It was one of my favorite resources.  

Summary of The Greek News:  The Greatest Newspaper 
in Civilization
Authors Anton Powell and Philip Steele present life in ancient Greece through the medium of the newspaper.  Articles are broken into sections: The News (focusing on battles), Army Life, Navy Life, Sparta: A Special Report, Trade News, Sporting News, Building News, The Gods: A Special Report, and School Life as well as pages on Politics, Women, Theater, Housing, Heath, Philosophers, Food, Farming, and Fashion.  Topics are covered in a variety of ways from first person accounts, interviews, editorials, and third-person reporting.  Advertisements, maps, political cartoons, diagrams, and colorful illustrations add another dimension for gaining insight into this ancient culture.  Some of the highlights are the coverage of the Olympics,  the theater, and living conditions.   

The variety of methods used to convey the historical information make this book highly engaging.   Not only is there the opportunity to discuss the facts, but also the methods used.  Many articles are written in the first person perspective, making them more personal and appealing.   The layout has makes it easy to read in small increments or to focus on particular areas of interest.  The only downside is I found the discussion of the battles a little confusing sometimes.  The rise of democracy is covered, but the book would be strengthened with a more detailed explanation.   A fascinating documentary on the topic is The Greeks:  The Crucible of Civilization.  A "special report" on Athens would have been a nice compliment to the one on Sparta.

The book is over sized which makes it easy to share for large or small group reading times.  The text is appropriate for about a third-grade level student to read independently.   I highly recommend The Greek News:  The Greatest Newspaper in Civilization for ages 7 and up. 

Teaching Opportunities:
  • Unit Study:  Add to a unit or study of ancient Greece or ancient civilizations
  • Writing:  Discuss different types of writing--editorial, news reporting, interview, and so forth; allow students to practice them on academic or personal topics
  • Art:  Create a political cartoon or draw a picture of favorite aspect of Greek life
  • Journalism:  Create a newspaper about the family, school/class, or other topic; allow students to practice layout and editing skills
  • Comparison:  Choose one or more areas of Greek life and compare/contrast in chart or paragraph form 
  • Point of View:  Identify and discuss the different point of views; teach how to identify which point of view is being used and the various advantages/disadvantages to each one
Head over to The Swimmer Writer for more noteworthy Non-Fiction Monday selections.  


  1. What a wonderful way to present this topic - and thank you for the lesson plan ideas, as well. Is this part of a series of books?

  2. Yes, there are at least 2 others that I have seen following the same format. One on ancient Rome and the other on Egypt.

  3. Oh I always enjoy books like these! My daughter is a huge fan of Terry Deary whose historical facts/books are always presented in a fun and interesting format. I have a feeling she'd like this as well. Will try to search for this one in our libraries.


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