I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
March 28, 2016
This post about pirate ideas for kids is sponsored by Thirteen Brother Pirates. My opinions, as always, are my own.
If you’re a parent, chances are you’ve been through a pirate phase with at least one of your children. My kids were hooked on pirates from the moment they watched Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean — and I couldn’t blame them. Pirate lore is full of swashbuckling adventure, grand costumes, fabulous riches, danger, and romance. And since retailers have eagerly jumped on the pirate bandwagon, children’s costumes and party decorations and printables and storybooks on the subject of pirates abound. This is all well and good- but if your child is bonkers for buccaneers, you have a fabulous opportunity to go beyond the Disney-fied vision of pirates and instead use the subject to teach your children about a pivotal time in U.S. — and world– history. This post has ten great pirate ideas designed to do just that!
I thought a lot about this subject last week as my 9-year-old son and I read Thirteen Brother Pirates: The Journey Begins together. Written by local author John R. Mattox II, the book stood out to me not only because it was a well-crafted page turner that I enjoyed reading as much as my son, but also because Mattox meticulously researched the book’s setting (the eve of the American Revolutionary War) and the details of true pirates of that era in order to write a realistic account of what might have happened if a band of young, orphaned ‘brothers’ (and one sister!) were attacked and captured by pirates while out at sea.
Each chapter is written from the perspective of a different character, which adds interest for young readers, but I really loved the fact that Mattox didn’t ‘dumb down’ the book in an effort to be more kid-friendly. As a result, it reads more like a children’s classic than today’s popular middle grade reader books filled with doodles and kid slang– and as a parent and a former child who adored reading myself, the classics are the books my kids and I end up remembering most.
Mattox wrote the book with his own children in mind and this also shines through in each page- He is clearly crafting what he intends to be a fictional legacy his kids can take pride in. For the rest of us, this means high-quality, thoughtful writing for our children that explores the themes of justice, selflessness, courage, and integrity. The 13 Brother Pirates series is one you can enjoy both for its compelling storyline and historical accuracy and as a tool to discuss the deeper issues with your kids. I also can’t wait for my soon-to-be 12 year old daughter to read 13 Brother Pirates— I’m sure she’ll love it just as much as her brother and I did!
Thirteen Brother Pirates: The Journey Begins is available now on Amazon, both as a paperback and for Kindle (It’s free if you have a subscription to Kindle Unlimited!). We can’t wait to continue the adventure with the next volume. I’d recommend it for ages 12 and up if your child is reading the book solo– If your child is younger, consider reading it with him or her, and exploring the true history behind the book’s setting while you’re at it.
Looking for other ways to enhance your child’s pirate experience and make it educational at the same time? Check out these awesome online resources:
—National Geographic Kids Pirate History site. You really can’t go wrong with National Geographic.
—Mr. Nussbaum’s pirate site includes pirate history, interactive maps, and even pirate math games.
—The History Channel has this interesting video and post on 8 real-life pirates that roamed the high seas.
–Did you know there were female pirates, too? Mental Floss lists ten female pirates here.
As for crafts and printables, I love this free Pirate Name Generator from Teachers Pay Teachers. Learn how to make a paper pirate hat here. Keep the pirate talk flowing with these pirate conversation starters, available as a free download from Teachers Pay Teachers. Award your own buccaneer with this free printable Junior Pirate Certificate.
I’ve been amazed by how many nonfiction pirate history books for kids I’ve been able to find at my local used bookstore. We have at least a dozen of them at home. Your local library should have a good stock available as well.
Finally, if you happen to be vacationing in or near St. Augustine, a visit to the town is well worth it for pirate fans. You’ll find plenty of pirate history in the nation’s oldest town, including a pirate museum. We happened to be there for the annual re-enactment of Drake’s Raid (June 3-4 this year), when historical re-enactors sacked and burned the city. So much fun!
Got more fun pirate ideas for kids? Leave them in the comments!