It’s quite a trip to Xi’an in China to visit the mausoleum of the first emperor of China and the fabled terracotta warriors. But one of the great things about summer is, with books to read, we are transported thousands of miles and years away.
In 1974, farmers digging a well discovered the head of a life-size terracotta soldier. Archaeologists uncovered thousands of clay warriors, along with bronze chariots and actual weaponry in the burial complex for the Emperor Qin Shi Huang, created over 2,000 years ago.
The terracotta warriors were buried in separate pits near the actual tomb of Qin Shi Huang (not excavated). Like real life warriors, the clay army would protect the emperor from his enemies.
What’s truly boggling about the terracotta figures is the detail and individuality. Generals wear spiffy armor, long sleeved robes, double knot headgear, and would have been painted red, blue, green and black. Soldiers with crossbows and standing archers are positioned as in a real battlefield. Sturdy horses, hitched to wooden chariots, are ready to rush forward.
Here’s both non-fiction and fiction books for kids to read, and travel to a wonder of the ancient world:
- The Emperor’s Silent Army by Jane O’Connor. Amazing discovery of the terracotta warriors, thousands of pottery figures guarding the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Find out about the archeological site, how the figures were made, soldier’s armor, weapons, and horses. Gorgeous close-up photographs of the terracotta warriors. (Picture book)
- Hidden Army: Clay Soldiers of Ancient China by Jane O’Connor. Kids can read for themselves about the story of this amazing site – why did the emperor make such an elaborate tomb, what’s in each pit, what do the warriors look like (no two are alike), with incredible details. (Easy reader)
- Ming’s Adventure with the Terracotta Army by Li Jian. Little Ming takes a trip back in time, and meets a General of the Terracotta Army. The general whisks Ming in a bronze chariot to the emperor’s mausoleum, filled with infantrymen, calvarymen and horses, archers, dancers, officials, animals of longevity. Two page illustrations bring the clay figures to life, fun for younger kids. (Picture book)
- Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier by Ying Chang Compestine and Vinson Compestine. Teenager Ming lives Maoist China, in a remote village near an ancient burial mound. When farmers dig up a broken figurine, Ming re-assembles a clay soldier, who can talk. Shi, a terracotta warrior, takes Ming inside the mausoleum of Emperor Qin, but can they stop corrupt tomb robbers? (Chapter book)
- The Terracotta Army of the First Emperor of China by William Lindesay. Not a kids’ book per se, this is a good guide to the site, with history of the Qin empire, detailed information and photos about the terracotta soldiers, weaponry, chariots and horses. (Photo essay)