So You Want to Be a Viking?


Illustration of children dressed like Vikings.

Author John Haywood’s newest book, So You Want to Be a Viking, blends today’s love for gaming with the education world’s ongoing quest to teach young people all about history.

In this interactive history book, children go to the library and decide to check out books about vikings. They learn what the word “viking” means, and the different classifications in the viking world (king, posh, shield maidens). They also learn important clues about themselves by taking a quiz on what qualifications they prefer in their leaders, and which places they might like to explore/plunder. This quiz helps them understand the type of leader they would most likely follow, and the role they might play. Then they go on to learn about viking crews, viking ships, what is expected in a viking’s character, and even the types of rewards (or plunder; depends on how you look at it) they can expect to reap.

So You Want to Be a Viking is a very clever children’s book that is perfect for social studies classes. It doesn’t just teach history, it helps children live history and find out about their own character while they’re at it. Although the prose mentions blood, plundering and gore, artist Takaya Akiyama’s illustrations of smiling children and wide-eyed characters hints to readers that this is all just make believe.

Use this book to study early occupations, early world history, law and order, and the like. By the way, the book has a fraternal twin, called So You Want to Be a Roman Soldier. Read the review here:


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