Olympics and Ancient Games

With the global pandemic there have been questions raised over the upcoming Tokyo Olympics- should they take place or should they be cancelled? As we wait and watch, it is certain that the world takes more notice of sport in the year leading to the event. With Winter and Summer sports, there is likely something to appeal to most!

The books today are linked, one, a picture book based on ancient games and the role of women in these. The second, is a fantastic guide to the sports featured in the summer olympics. I can imagine any KS2 class completely engaged with both books and then delving further into the history of the games.

The Corinthian Girl by Christina Balit, Published by Otter-Barry Books

This is a wonderfully inspiring tale of an unnamed slave girl whose strength and skill are spotted by an Olympic hero, Milos of Athens. With a sad start to her life, the young girl becomes a slave and though fed and clothed, she is not loved or treated with overt kindness.

Finding a friendship with Dion, the youngest son of Milos, they cavort and play and it is through these games a spark happens upon Milos. Women were not allowed to compete in the Olympic games as the men were indeed stronger and likely to be nude. However, in honour of Hera, the Heraean Games were founded for unmarried women.

Wearing tunics with their hair loose and feet bare, these women would compete against each other for honour and to wear a crown of olive twigs. Though this story of Chloris is invented, the games, time and place are real. it is said that winners could add their names to statues of the goddess.

Though the story itself is wonderfully woven, it is perhaps the vivid and stunningly detailed illustrations which allow the reader to travel back in time to watch the first women compete in the Heraean Games.

On your Marks, Get Set…Gold by Scott Allen, Illustrated by Antoine Corbineau, Published by Nosy Crow

For a non sporty person this book is perfect! I never know the rules, the facts or how to win but this book very clearly and cleverly maps out each summer Olympic event. I do hope there will be a second volume featuring sports from the Winter Olympics. Being from Canada, I feel more at home with cold weather sports!

I am regularly surprised by what constitutes an Olympic event from shooting to climbing to Boccia ball and goal ball- there are so many events to learn about. With the inclusion of Para-Olympic games, this truly is the ultimate guide.

I particularly liked the layout of this book. Titled text boxes appear on each page laying out the basics of the rules, history, skills as well as terminology relevant to that sport. The best ever is fantastic, telling which countries hold the most medals in that particular sport. Admittedly, I looked for the Canadian flag on each page!

This brilliant guide is colourful and brilliantly illustrated ensuring readers have plenty to look at and learn. Told with both fact and humour, particularly the Basic Training boxes, this would make the ultimate gift for any sports fan, or non sports fan so they can at least learn about the events prior to the Opening Ceremonies!

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