My 12yo daughter recently finished reading this book:
Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile, Egypt, 57 B.C. (The Royal Diaries)
It is written from the perspective of the teenage Cleopatra. She has also read the one about Mary Queen of Scots. While I’m not sure about the historical accuracy of everything in the book, it certainly gives insight as to what life may have been like for these women when they were still girls and before they had the weight and responsibility of ruling a kingdom on their shoulders.
My daughter began to sympathize with Cleopatra and had the audacity to express her feelings, to which my 13.5yo son (who is a total history buff) responded that Cleopatra was a “psycho” and began listing the reasons why. For a couple of days, on and off, this subject would be brought up to their father and I and they would continue their argument, generally going in circles.
Today I decided that they could turn this into a research project and debate: was she or wasn’t she a “psycho” (love how they put it…), and why or why not? I wanted details, I wanted internet links, I wanted something concrete. And there would be a prize.
I am pretty impressed with both of them. My daughter took the perspective that in light of what all rulers had to do to keep their thrones, protect their kingdoms, and conquer other kingdoms, her behaviour was simply necessary and par for the course. She had no real choice in much of what she did. She then cited examples of several other rulers and atrocities committed by them, asking if what Cleopatra did could compare to some of the things these (supposedly good) rulers did?
My son gave a few links to historical sites that depicted some pretty nasty behaviour on ol’ Cleo’s part. But he also gave examples of other rulers’ harsh behaviour, and in essence concluded that they were all nuts. I would like to add that his page was laid out really nicely as well.
I have no idea who to give the prize to. I actually haven’t yet decided what the prize is but shhhhhh, they don’t know that. So I am going to go over some of their spelling mistakes with them and get them to correct their work while I figure it out.
I will end this post by saying that this particular series of books is fantastic for girls ages 9-13, and possibly even older. There is a whole series of them from Scholastic. Check them out! 🙂