7 incredible books for children learning about Ancient Egypt
Published on: 03 March 2022
Almost all children study pharaohs and mummies in primary school and are fascinated by them. This is the centenary year of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb and children’s books about Ancient Egypt are in greater demand than ever. Here are some personal recommendations from author Stephen Davies, beginning with his own newly-published book.
The Ancient Egypt Sleepover and author Stephen Davies
The Ancient Egypt Sleepover by Stephen Davies (Caboodle Press)
When I discovered that the British Museum organises sleepovers for children in its Ancient Egypt galleries, my story antennae began twitching like crazy. I set out to write an exciting but realistic adventure that would be useful to teachers covering Ancient Egypt in Key Stage 2 history. The book contains hieroglyphic codes, clandestine villains and eye-watering quantities of treasure.
The Heart Scarab by Saviour Pirotta (Maverick Books)
Illustration from The Heart Scarab by Saviour Pirotta
Pirotta’s brand-new series features hapless brothers Renni and Mahu having adventures on the banks of the Nile in the year 1269 BCE. This first one is a fanciful tale about a mummy incensed by the theft of a magic amulet. The settings are beautifully evoked and children will pick up lots of information about life and work in Ancient Egypt.
Pharaoh’s Fate by Camille Gautier and Stéphanie Vernet, illustrated by Margaux Carpentier (b small publishing)
This is an English translation of the French picture book Panique en Egypte: a sumptuous whodunnit in which you investigate a plot against the life of Ramesses II. You visit a temple, a palace, a festival and a tomb, collecting clues as you go. Some clues are visual, others logical, and the solution is entirely satisfying. Carpentier’s illustrations are gorgeous, capturing the jewel-like tones of Ancient Egypt.
Marcy and the Riddle of the Sphinx by Joe Todd-Stanton (Flying Eye Books)
Illustration from Marcy and the Riddle of the Sphinx by Joe Todd-Stanton
This charming picture book quest is loosely inspired by Egyptian mythology. The best bits are the full spread action sequences, which show dear little Marcy leaping between colossal statues, creeping through a labyrinthine solar boat and descending into the belly of a sphinx. Joe Todd-Stanton is a wonderful colourist.
Mummies Unwrapped by Tom Froese (Nosy Crow)
Illustration from Mummies Unwrapped by Tom Froese
I adore the colour palette of this book: dusky pinks, terracotta reds and sandy yellows. The naïve, angular illustrations are full of character and the text has an attractively simple style. Expect children to regularly look up with gleeful exclamations of ‘Hey, did you know…?’
Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs by Kathy Allen (Raintree)
With an attractive layout and full-colour illustrations throughout, this slim volume offers a gentle introduction to an enchanting subject, explaining how hieroglyphs work and providing examples. The section on Jean-Francois Champollion’s deciphering of the ‘code’ in 1822 is especially exciting.
The Story of Tutankhamun by Patricia Cleveland-Peck, illustrated by Isabel Greenberg (Bloomsbury)
Illustration: Isabel Greenberg
Children are intrigued by Tutankhamun, and this is a splendid picture book. It covers the life and times of the boy king, the discovery of the tomb and the dramatic aftermath. A nine-year-old can pore over this enthralling edition for a very long time.
Follow Stephen Davies on Twitter
Can't get enough of Ancient Egypt? Check out Derek Keilty's booklist for more fascinating books about pharaohs, mummies and pyramids!