As our family begins our third spiral study through Ancient History, I think back fondly on the previous years we toured through the ancient civilizations. So many great books and stories! Here is an ancient history book list your whole family will love!
Ancient History Book List
This year, as I am homeschooling middle grade students, I had to put together nearly an entirely new list of books for us to read. And when I say “us,” I mean the whole family! Because I enjoy reading these stories and books as well!
This list is perfect for any family studying the Ancients – Eygpt, Greece, Rome, Mayans. Or for families who are involved in Classical Conversations, like our family! This year (2021) we are in Cycle 1 which is Ancient History study, so this list is a great fit for any homeschool family.
Ancient History Book List Organization
This book list is organized by Genre: Biography, Fiction, Non-Fiction
At the end of this post, I have a free PDF download of this book list in the same organization. It also contains the books organized by Classical Conversation Cycle 1 weeks! So you can see which books go with each week’s memory work.
Even if you’re not in Classical Conversations, you might find this PDF book list a useful breakdown of what to read week by week in your homeschool study of Ancient History!
Ancient History Book List Selection Criteria
There are SO many great books that you might think should be on this list. However, I made these choices based on a few limiting factors:
I have a 4th and 6th grader this year. While we will continue to read some text-heavy picture books, many of the simpler picture books on these topics are not included on this list.
Not every book on the list is religious. In fact, many are secular, but I chose books that hold with our values for content and language.
I was going to say “readability and quality” here, but the Charlotte Mason concept of Living Books is a better statement. A Living Book will have these qualities (adapted from SCM):
- Convey the author’s passion in conversational style – often narrative (story) based.
- Construct well-told stories using strong word choices and well-developed characters, plot, or organization.
- Create a lasting impression – whether because it sparks the imagination or inspire the heart – a living book will draw the listeners in and create desire to discuss the book and leave a lasting impression.
- Contain character-building ideas – the reader/listener will be shaped and changed by the ideas contained in the book. A book of facts cannot do this work.
I attempted to include a range of fiction, non-fiction, biography, picture books, science, math, history, geography, poetry, and more in this list. Of course, it leans heavily on fiction, but I did my best! Because I aligned this with our Classical Conversation studies, there are a few themes that have few choices for living books (see above), and so there are not many listed.
I have often overwhelmed myself with a book list that is not do-able in a year’s study. I, more than anyone, want to #readallthebooks, but I am trying to curate a year of literature study for my kids, so I had to limit myself to what can possibly be read in ten month’s time. Therefore, if I found a topic/week had too many titles, or if there were titles that covered similar ground, I made some hard choices.
Obviously, all these books have to do with ancient history. However, many books I came across in my research merely took place in formerly ancient lands, but not during the ancient time period. With a very rare exception of the missionary biographies, and a few Who Was? biographies (because in Classical Conversations we touch on the Imperialism era), I tried to keep the titles here to people and events DURING ancient times.
**I have not included the Science, Math, Music, and Art books we use for CC Cycle 1 in this list because they are not specifically Ancient History. I will create another blog post with these titles soon! They ARE listed in the printable however.
How we use our Ancient History Booklist
We adhere only loosely to the CC weeks as we read, because some weeks have an abundance of books in their topic and others are slim pickings. My usual method is to put the books in chronological order. I usually select about twenty “must-read” books for our morning time read-aloud titles. Sometimes I shift a few titles to Bedtime reading status, so we can move through the list a bit faster.
Some books (especially non-fiction with topical sections) might not get fully read, or they might get read out of order. Or they might be read a few weeks after we study the topic in CC.
If a book is just not grasping us (usually because it is too advanced to hold my younger readers’ attentions), I feel free to “abandon” or “postpone” the title to another time. Please do not feel tied to any book – not every book will be a home run for different families or kids!
The pictures below are all linked to my Amazon Affiliate account. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Ancient History Book List by Genre
- (PB) = Picture Book
- (PRB) = Picture Reference Book
- (IB) = Illustrated Book (more pages / text than most picture books)
- (Comic) = Comic strip format
- (Audio CD) = physical CD
- (Series) = Additional books follow or precede
- (IEW) = Recommended reading by the Institute for Excellence in Writing program
- David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer (Christian Heroes: Then & Now) – Janet Benge, Geoff Benge
- Nate Saint: On a Wing and a Prayer (Christian Heroes: Then & Now) – Janet Benge, Geoff Benge
- Archimedes and the Door of Science – Jeanne Bendick
- Galen and the Gateway to Medicine – Jeanne Bendick
- Herodotus and the Road to History – Jeanne Bendick
- Muhammed – Demi (PB)
- Who Was King Tut? – Roberta Edwards (IEW)
- Who was Alexander the Great? – Kathryn Waterfield, Robyn Waterfield (IEW)
- Who was Julius Caesar? – Nico Medina (IEW)
- Who Was Queen Victoria? – Jim Gigliotti
- Who Was Gandhi? – Dana Meachen Rau
- Listening to Crickets – Candace Ransom
- The Librarian Who Measured the Earth – Kathryn Lasky (PB)
- A Boy Named Giotto – Paolo Guarnieri, Bimba Landmann (PB)
- A Picture Book of Simon Bolivar – David A. Adler, Robert Casilla (PB)
- Napoleon: The Story of the Little Corporal – Robert Burleigh (PB)
- The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon – Jacqueline Davies, Melissa Sweet (PB)
- The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science – Joyce Sidman (PB)
- Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor – Robert Burleigh (PB)
- Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau – Jennifer Berne (PB)
David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer (Christian Heroes: Then & Now)Nate Saint: On a Wing and a Prayer (Christian Heroes: Then & Now)Herodotus and the Road to HistoryGalen and the Gateway to MedicineArchimedes and the Door of ScienceWho Was Julius Caesar?Who Was Alexander the Great?Who Was King Tut?Who Was Queen Victoria?Who Was Gandhi?Listening to Crickets: A Story about Rachel CarsonThe Librarian Who Measured the Earth (PB)A Boy Named Giotto (PB)A Picture Book of Simon Bolivar (PB)Napoleon: The Story of the Little Corporal (PB)The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science (PB)The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon (PB)
- Boy of the Pyramids – Ruth Fosdick Jones
- Gilgamesh the Hero – Geraldine McCaughrean, David Parkins
- God King: A Story in the Days of King Hezekiah – Joanne Williamson, Daria M. Sockey
- Hittite Warrior – Joanne Williamson
- A Place in the Sun – Jill Rubalcaba (IEW)
- Mara, Daughter of the Nile – Eloise Jarvis McGraw (IEW)
- The Cat of Bubastes: A Tale of Ancient Egypt – G. A. (George Alfred) Henty
- The Golden Goblet – Eloise Jarvis McGraw (IEW)
- On the Shores of the Great Sea – M. B. Synge, E. M. Synge
- Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile – Tomie dePaola (PB)
- Gilgamesh the King (The Gilgamesh Trilogy) – Ludmila Zeman (PB) (IEW)
- The Egyptian Cinderella – Shirley Climo, Ruth Heller (PB)
- The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle: Solving a Mystery of Ancient Egypt – Claudia Logan, Melissa Sweet (PRB)
Boy of the PyramidsGilgamesh the HeroGod King: A Story in the Days of King HezekiahHittite WarriorThe Cat of Bubastes: A Tale of Ancient EgyptMara, Daughter of the NileThe Golden GobletOn the Shores of the Great SeaThe Egyptian CinderellaGilgamesh the King (The Gilgamesh Trilogy)The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle: Solving a Mystery of Ancient EgyptBill and Pete Go Down the Nile
Ancient China / Japan
- One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale – Demi
- Heart of a Samurai – Margi Preus
- The Samurai’s Tale – Erik C. Haugaard
- The Big Wave – Pearl S. Buck
- Where the Mountain Meets the Moon – Grace Lin
- Lin Lun Lad of Courage – Carolyn Treefinger
- A Single Shard – Linda Sue Park
- A Single Pebble: A Story of the Silk Road – Bonnie Christensen (PB)
- The Legend of Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu, Demi (PB)
One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical FolktaleHeart of a SamuraiThe Samurai’s TaleThe Big WaveWhere the Mountain Meets the MoonLi Lun, Lad of Courage (A Newbery Honor book)A Single ShardA Single Pebble: A Story of the Silk RoadThe Legend of Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching
- Beyond the Desert Gate – Mary Ray
- Greek Myths – Olivia E. Coolidge OR
Greek Myths – Jim Weiss (Audio CD)*There are many versions of Greek Myths available – you may find collections you prefer over these. Most collections will feature similar stories).
- Tales from the Odyssey, Part One – Mary Pope Osborne (IEW)
- The Trojan War – Olivia Coolidge OR
The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War – Emily Little
- Theras and His Town – Caroline Dale Snedeker
- Aesop’s Fables – Charles Santore (PB)
- Detectives in Togas – Henry Winterfeld (IEW)
- Mystery of the Roman Ransom – Henry Winterfeld (IEW)
- The Bronze Bow – Elizabeth George Speare
- The Secrets of Vesuvius (The Roman Mysteries) – Caroline Lawrence (Series) (IEW)
- The Charioteer of Delphi (The Roman Mysteries) – Caroline Lawrence (Series) (IEW)
- The Ides of April – Mary Ray
- The Eagle of the Ninth (The Roman Britain Trilogy, 1) – Rosemary Sutcliff
- The Silver Branch (The Roman Britain Trilogy, 2) – Rosemary Sutcliff
- The Lantern Bearers (The Roman Britain Trilogy, 3) – Rosemary Sutcliff
- The White Stag – Kate Seredy
- The Glorious Impossible [Illustrated with Frescoes from the Scrovegni Chapel] – Madeleine L’Engle
- Julius Caesar and the Story of Rome – William Shakespeare / Jim Weiss (Audio CD)
Mystery of the Roman RansomDetectives in TogasThe Bronze BowThe Secrets of Vesuvius (The Roman Mysteries)The Charioteer of Delphi (The Roman Mysteries)The Ides of AprilThe Eagle of the Ninth (The Roman Britain Trilogy, 1)The Silver Branch (The Roman Britain Trilogy, 2)The Lantern Bearers (The Roman Britain Trilogy, 3)The White StagThe Glorious Impossible [Illustrated with Frescoes from the Scrovegni Chapel by Giotto]Julius Caesar and the Story of Rome
- The Pearl Diver – Julia Johnson, Patricia Al Fakhri
- Beat the Story Drum, Pum Pum – Nigerian Folk Tales (PB)
- Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain – Verna Aardema (PB)
- Why The Sky Is Far Away: A Nigerian Folktale – Mary-Joan Gerson, Carla Golembe (PB)
- Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale – Verna Aardema, Leo Dillon (PB)
- Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti – Gerald McDermott (PB)
The Pearl DiverBeat the Story-Drum, Pum-Pum (PB)Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain (PB)Why The Sky Is Far Away: A Nigerian Folktale (PB)Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale (PB)Anansi the Spider: a tale from the Ashanti (PB)
- Shadow Spinner – Susan Fletcher
- Arabian Nights – Jim Weiss (Audio CD)
India & Imperialism
- Rama and the Demon King: An Ancient Tale from India – Jessica Souhami (PB)
- The Elephant’s Friend and Other Tales from Ancient India – Marcia Williams (PB)
- The Story of Little Babaji – Helen Bannerman, Fred Marcellino (PB)
- The King’s Chessboard – David Birch, Devis Grebu (PB)
- Once a Mouse… – Marcia Brown (PB)
Mesoamerica / Aztecs / Native Americans
- The Corn Grows Ripe – Dorothy Rhoads, Jean Charlot
- Naya Nuki: Shoshoni Girl Who Ran – Kenneth Thomasma, Eunice Hundley
- Om-kas-toe: Blackfeet Twin Captures an Elkdog – Kenneth Thomas
Shadow SpinnerA Storyteller’s Version of… Arabian Nights (Audio CD)Rama And The Demon King: An Ancient Tale From India (PB)The Elephant’s Friend and Other Tales from Ancient India (PB)The Story of Little Babaji (PB)The King’s Chessboard (PB)Once a Mouse… (PB)The Corn Grows RipeNaya Nuki: Shoshoni Girl Who RanOm-kas-toe: Blackfeet Twin Captures an Elkdog
- International Children’s Bible Field Guide – Larry Richards, Chris Garborg PRB
- In Search of the Source – Neil Anderson & Hyatt Moore
- Sea Clocks: The Story of Longitude – Louise Borden, Erik Blegvad (PB)
- Maps and Globes – Jack Knowlton, Harriet Barton (PB)
- Geography from A to Z: A Picture Glossary – Jack Knowlton, Harriet Barton (PB)
- Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air – Stewart Ross, Stephen Biesty (PRB)
- The Usborne Book of Living Long Ago: Everyday life through the Ages – Felicity Brooks, Helen Edom (PRB)
- Augustus Caesar’s World – Genevieve Foster (IB)
- Ox, House, Stick: The History of Our Alphabet – Don Robb, Anne Smith (PRB)
- Built to Last – David Macaulay (PRB)
- The Story of Clocks and Calendars – Betsy Maestro, Giulio Maestro (PRB)
- The Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times – Susan Wise Bauer (Audio CD)
International Children’s Bible Field GuideIn Search of the Source: A First Encounter with God’s WordSea Clocks: The Story of Longitude (PB)Maps and Globes (PB)Geography from A to Z: A Picture Glossary (PB)Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and AirThe Usborne Book of Living Long Ago: Everyday life through the AgesThe Story of Clocks and Calendars (PRB)Augustus Caesar’s World (PRB)Ox, House, Stick: The History of Our Alphabet (PB)Built to Last
- The First Emperor – Vick Low, Sara E. Mayhew (Comic Book)
- You Wouldn’t Want to Work on the Great Wall of China! – Jacqueline Morley, David Antram (IB)
- The Silk Route: 7,000 Miles of History – John S Major, Stephen Fieser (PB)
- Marco Polo – Demi (PB)
- Egyptian Treasures: Mummies and Myths – Jim Weiss (Audio CD)
- Tut’s Mummy: Lost…and Found – Judy Donnelly, James Watling
- You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Pyramid Builder! – Jacqueline Morley, David Antram (PB)
- You Wouldn’t Want to Be an Egyptian Mummy! – David Stewart, David Antram (PB)
- King Solomon & the Queen of Sheba – Blu Greenberg, Linda Tarry (PB)
- Pharaoh’s Boat – David L. Weitzman (PB)
- Cleopatra – Diane Stanley, Peter Vennema (PB)
- Explore Within an Egyptian Mummy – Lorraine Jean Hopping, Ryan Hobson (PRB)
- Pyramid – David Macaulay (PRB)
- Courage and a Clear Mind: True Adventures of the Ancient Greeks – Jim Weiss (Audio CD)
- You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Greek Athlete: Races You’d Rather Not Run – Michael Ford, David Salariya (PB)
- What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras? – Julie Ellis, Phyllis Hornung (PB)
- Pompeii — Buried Alive! – Edith Kunhardt
- Romulus and Remus – Anne Rockwell (IB)
- Alexander the Great – Demi (PB)
- You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Roman Gladiator! – John Malam, David Antram (PB)
- O Canada! Her Story (O Canada: Her Story Book 9) – Karla Akins
- Incans Aztecs Mayans – John Holzmann
- How to Be an Aztec Warrior – Fiona MacDonald (PB)
- The Sad Night: The Story of an Aztec Victory and a Spanish Loss – Sally Schofer Mathews (PB)
- Awesome Ancient Ancestors (America’s Horrible Histories, 2) – Elizabeth Levy (Comic)
The First Emperor (Comic)You Wouldn’t Want to Work on the Great Wall of China! (PB)The Silk Route: 7,000 Miles of History (PB)Marco Polo (PB)The Great Myths of Egypt (Audio CD)Tut’s Mummy: Lost…and FoundYou Wouldn’t Want to Be a Pyramid Builder! (PB)You Wouldn’t Want to Be an Egyptian Mummy! (PB)King Solomon & the Queen of Sheba (PB)Pharaoh’s Boat (PRB)Cleopatra (PB)Explore Within an Egyptian Mummy (PRB)Pyramid (PRB)Courage and a Clear Mind: True Adventures of the Ancient Greeks (Audio CD)You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Greek Athlete! (PB)What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras? (PB)Pompeii: Buried AliveRomulus and Remus (IB)Alexander the Great (PB)You Wouldn’t Want to be a Roman Gladiator! (PB)O Canada Her Story
(Book 9)Incans Aztecs MayansHow to Be an Aztec Warrior (PB)The Sad Night: The Story of an Aztec Victory and a Spanish Loss (PB)Awesome Ancient Ancestors (Comic)
And that’s the majority of the books we plan to read this year for our Ancient History Study! If I come across any more good ones, I’ll be sure to update this list!
You can shop these books right through the pictures in this post – just click the image and you’ll get to the Amazon page for each title. OR, visit my Amazon Storefront to shop.
Get a Printable Copy of this List!
Meanwhile, if you’d like a printable copy of this list for library runs or shopping at thrift stores, I have that for you! This printable is organized both by genre AND by CC Weeks!
Sign up for my emails below. The PDF list will be delivered to your inbox after you confirm subscription. It will also include this handy week-by-week Reading list for the 24 weeks of CC study with additional titles for Science, Math, English, and Fine Arts topics!
Want more Ancient History for your Homeschool?
Check out my Ancient History Classical Morning Menus – a full year of morning time materials to start your day! Scripture, Poetry, Artwork, and more in a handy PDF you can use on your device or print out and put in an actual menu!
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