Ancient Games: A History of Sports and Gaming – Iris Volant and Avalon Nuovo

Full of fascinating facts and striking illustrations this large format guide to the history of sports and games that have entertained people for thousands of years is a book with the wow factor. Another winner from Flying Eye Books!


The latest in this established series combines information about sports from ancient times to present day with a glimpse of social history that ensures this book has cross curricular ties for primary school children. There are mentions of links to religion and myths, to invasions and wars throughout the depiction of the gradual development of games, sport and pastimes across the world. It is this broad global range that gives the book an added appeal. Rather than concentrate on the well known and the familiar Iris Volant has drawn from the history of ancient civilisations and from a wide range of countries and cultures.

Starting with wrestling around 5000 years ago in what is now Southern Iraq, moving on to water jousting in Ancient Egypt, Aztec board games, Roman chariot races, the Chinese early form of football and then forward to medieval archery and Viking chess the range of sports and games included is comprehensive. The striking illustrations by Avalon Nuovo bring the written explanations to life and encourage children to browse and linger over the pages. Children will learn as they linger. There are many interesting details included. I did not know that the Roman chariot racers worked for teams represented by colours and that the citizens supported their own team in a similar way to supporting football teams nowadays. Other more important cultural references such as the religious significance of sports and games in Aztec and Inca cultures are also mentioned. This is a fascinating book for an adult to dip into as well.


There are descriptions of Powerful People interspersed between the different time periods ranging from Milo of Croton to modern Olympic champions. The book was originally due to publish just prior to the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, now postponed until 2021. The evolution of the games from their origin in Ancient Greece to its modern day popularity form an interesting part of the book and will be enjoyed by children despite the delay of the games themselves. Teachers may want to be super efficient and get hold of the book in readiness too!  The book closes with a time line of events giving readers a helpful overview.

Ancient Games is published in May and would be a valuable addition to school, library or family bookshelves. Thank you to the publishers Flying Eye Books for providing my copy.
Flying Eye have produced some other excellent non fiction books for children including books exploring oceans which you may be interested in. 

This entry was posted in Book Review and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Ancient Games: A History of Sports and Gaming – Iris Volant and Avalon Nuovo

  1. setinthepast says:

    That does sound good. I knew about the chariot teams – always makes me smile 🙂 . At least their season never got suspended by a pandemic!!


  2. alibrarylady says:

    It made me smile too. Please don’t mention the football season; as a Liverpool fan I’ve waited thirty years for them to win the title again! Trivial I know compared to everything else but I’m still a little miffed.


  3. …and yet again another of your recommendations gets added to my wish list! This book sounds absolutely fascinating and I can think of a very large number of children who would be interested. Funnily enough I had read about the chariot team colours in one of Caroline Lawrence’s marvellous Roman Mysteries. I remember it appealing to my football-supporting children at the time!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s a very good combination.. and I do feel for you this season, although my family of Gooners were very relieved that your team didn’t emulate The Invincibles!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Reading Matters – news from the world of children’s books | Library Lady

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.