Books for children about ancient Egypt
I love David Macaulay’s book about how the pyramids were built. The illustrations are wonderful, and it makes plain what a massive (and massively useless) undertaking it was to build the damn things. However, I should mention that it has not sustained my (six-year-old) daughter’s interest long enough for me to read the whole thing to her.
Similarly, I love David Weitzman’s The Pharaoh’s Boat which, like Macaulay’s book, has beautiful illustrations and shows how clever the ancient Egyptians were. And, like Macaulay’s book, I like it much more than my daughter does.
We both like The Star-Bearer, which is a picture book (with very pretty pictures) retelling an ancient Egyptian creation myth. We also like Gerald McDermott’s Voyage of Osiris, which retells a myth of Osiris: how he was imprisoned and then murdered by Set, how he was reassembled, and how he became the ruler of the Underworld. I’ve left out a link because it appears to be out of print, and there’s not much on it online.
My daughter loves You Wouldn’t Want to Be Cleopatra! much more than I do–she asked me to read it to her five days in a row, to my sorrow. It certainly holds a child’s attention: there’s strangling, seasickness, beheading, poisoning, stabbing, and sibling rivalry (including an illustration showing Cleopatra’s brother taunting her with, “Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah, I’m Pharaoh”). If you’ve ever been to one of the Grossology exhibits at your local science center, you’ve got an idea of the kind of book this is.
I can tell you which books my daughter enjoyed, but someone else will have to tell you how true to the facts or the source material they are, because I have no idea.
Update: I completely forgot The Usborne Encyclopedia of the Ancient World, which has a long section on ancient Egypt, and which both my daughter and I love.