• Allison Diehl

What is an Archaeologist? (Review)

Updated: Nov 21



Interest Level: Ages 7 - 9

Author: Libby Romero

Publisher: National Geographic Kids, 2019

Reading Level: Lexile 820

Pages: 40

Retail: $4.99, paperback


Summary: A glossy-color illustrated reader about archaeologists: what they do, where they study, and the tools they use to learn about the past. Includes archaeological riddles, a glossary, a review quiz, and index.


Leveled readers have come a long way in a short time. When I was learning to read, the usual fodder was stories about children or animals illustrated with simple drawings. There is now a big industry in producing books on high interest subjects with carefully crafted text that introduces vocabulary and increasingly complex sentence structure for children. National Geographic creates many readers about science and history with color photographs and engaging page spreads. They follow a formula that works pretty well, so the real question for me was: "Does this book depict modern archaeology accurately?"


Using fairly simple language, What is an Archaeologist? introduces most of the basic concepts that underpin modern archaeology. Terms such as artifact, feature, site are defined. Both male and female archaeologists are identified by name and shown doing research in various parts of the world. A significant section of the book is dedicated to technology such as the use of satellite imagery and remote sensing to identify sites.


The book includes a broad range of impressive archaeological finds, and it depicts the work of archaeologists as pretty exciting. The short format necessitates that this book only scratches the surface. I might have gotten an eye twitch a couple of times over a couple of exaggerations and oversimplifications, but nothing struck me as dangerously wrong.


The author can probably be forgiven for leaving out some of less glamorous, day-to-day experiences of archaeologists such as pedestrian survey, artifact and analysis, statistical calculations, background research, and writing. There is enough sizzle in this book to inspire young people to want make unexpected discoveries and answer unsolved mysteries. Hopefully inquisitive children will also follow the direction to leave any artifacts where they find them and tell an adult (or even better, an archaeologist).


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