Percy Jackson fan alert – this post is definitely about kids who love the series or who are ready to discover it!
Like many 6th graders, my 11-year-old son will be delving into the history of ancient civilizations and learning about the lives of the earliest humans in Social Studies class this year. One of the units of study typically covered in 6th grade focuses on Ancient Greece – the history, arts, and architecture of Ancient Greece, as well as the rich and enduring tales of Greek mythology that have influenced all forms of literature and art and many aspects of modern society. When he learned that was going to be covered in class – he was psyched and ready!! What??? How did that happen, you ask?
If you haven't guessed it already, he's one of the gazillion kids who have devoured the Percy Jackson series – and as a consequence, everything related to Greek myths over the past few years. I love that the series, and its modern take on the classic myths, has turned him, and so many of his peers, onto Greek mythology. He's like the scholar of our house when it comes to that topic now. It's awesome.
So, as a result of his fanaticism when it comes to the Greeks, I've had a huge refresher course in mythology myself -- but with a modern twist. Below are 10 modern takes on exploring mythology that kids LOVE – including the Percy Jackson series. If your kids haven't gotten hooked yet, these picks are sure to do the trick!
This is Rick Riordan's newest release and it's gotten a lot of press and stirred up the debate about modern interpretations of the classics. It's written in the voice of Percy Jackson and it is Percy's take on the who's who of the ancient Greeks. It's right up every kid's alley when it comes to humor, modern references, and a voice they can really relate to – I say way to go, Rick Riordan! This will get kids reading about the Greeks!
If your kids haven't yet read the Percy Jackson series, then book 1, The Lightning Thief, will hook them into the remaining four for sure. In the first book, Percy learns that he is actually the son of Poseidon, God of the Sea – so that makes him a demigod. Not bad for starters. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends -- one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena -- Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood – love it!) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods. I'm not giving any more away. It's a page-turner that's sure to hook kids right out the gate.
Even after reading the novel The Lightning Thief, both of my boys loved reading it in graphic novel format. They can't wait until the other books in the series are also available as graphic novels. It brings the story to life in a whole new way. Great for kids who aren't quite ready for the full novel version – or who loved it so much they want more.
This is one of my FAVORITE modern renditions of a Guide to Mythology. It's hilarious. Apollo has an online profile and Aphrodite blogs about her issues. The Gods come complete with profiles, headshots, family trees, entertaining cartoons, and surprises. My son ripped through this like it was candy.
A follow-on to Mytholopedia: Oh My Gods! – this edition tells the tales of the goddesses exclusively. Just as entertaining as the first in the series.
If you haven't been convinced to check out the Mytholopedia series yet, this one serves up everything you wanted to know about the beasts and monsters in the myths – with the same engaging cartoons and funny sidebars – humorously delivered in a way kids will completely love. And what kid doesn't love beasts and monsters?
John Scieszka is a favorite author of mine – and my boys LOVED the entire Time Warp Trio series of books. This one, It's All Greek to Me, throws the trio of boys -- Fred, Sam, and narrator Joe -- into the Greek Underworld via a magic book called "The Book." There begins their crazy adventures that start in Hades and are filled with wise-cracking humor, confrontations with mythical beasts, disagreements with immortals, and a whole host of close-calls before they make their way back home. There's a short glossary of Greek gods and monsters along with a pronunciation guide in the back of the book which is great for kids who don't yet know who's who in the world of the Greeks.
Kate McMullan has crafted a series called Myth-O-Mania that puts a modern spin on each of the Greek gods and goddesses. From Have a Hot Time, Hades to Phone Home, Persephone! each book focuses on a god or goddess and they each tell the story in a hilarious and contemporary voice. Pandora, Hercules and Cupid, among others, play a starring role in this series.
George O'Connor is a phenomenal illustrator who brings the tales of Greek mythology to life in graphic novel format. These are best suited for older kids – middle school and up – but are fantastic, modern renditions of the classic tales in a format that really appeals to kids. Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, and Aphrodite each get a turn as the featured god or goddess in each of these beautifully crafted graphic novels.