In the Forbidden City & This is the Greatest Place {Book Review}

It's no surprise our family loves to read.  Ben is even writing his very own book blog now.  We also love all things history and cultural, which might be what happens when mom is really a history teacher.

We were more than excited to say yes when The China Institute offered to send us two great books about China and the Forbidden City.  China is actually very high on my list of places I need to visit someday and the Forbidden City is a must-do.  Of course, until the time comes that I can actually figure out how to take our family to China, we do a lot of reading about it.

The Forbidden City and the World of Small Animals by Brian Tse - Rabbit is eating breakfast with his friends Baby Squirrel, Young Porcupine, and Little Brother Panda when an unexpected visitor arrives. He is a master builder, searching for inspiration todesign a great palace for the Emperor of China.Together, Uncle Builder and the little animals explore how nature supplies us with the wonders that enrich our lives.  Recommended for ages 4 - 9 years.
In the Forbidden City by Chiu Kwong-chiu - Serving as the seat of imperial power for six centuries, the Forbidden City is one of China’s most famous and enigmatic landmarks. Accompanied by a mischievous cat, readers will tour this colossal architectural structure, discovering the secrets hidden inside the palace walls. They will encounter the people who have walked through its halls and gardens, including emperors, empresses, and rebel leaders, and hear exciting tales about the power struggles and intrigues of everyday life.  Recommended for ages 9 & up.
This is the Greatest Place is an awesome introduction to China and the Forbidden City for the younger crowd, but we all enjoyed it too.  With adorable animals acting as the guide, the book shows how nature inspired the construction of the Forbidden City.  There are lift-the-flaps that show how each piece of nature helped with a different part of the buildings and an awesome fold-out map page that allows you to see all the different buildings and people that made up the Forbidden City.

In the Forbidden City is written for older students and has much more details about the construction of the city, along with timelines, details about the emperors, and more.  The illustrations are remarkably detailed in black and white and the book provides a magnifying glass to examine them up close!  Like This is the Greatest Place, this book has fold out page for more detail and bigger maps to check out.  We also loved the commentary on the emperors--hobbies, facts, little bits of information besides a typical history book!

We also recommend checking out the website for We All Live in the Forbidden City.  It's full of activities, printables, learning materials, and more.  We loved it for our homeschool classroom and think there are so many things you can do there!

Disclosure: The China Institute provided me with copies of both books above, along with the recipe to share in this post.  All opinions are my own.