Living Books List for Studying Ancient History

We study history in a cycle from ancients to modern times. My younger girls and I have been working through ancient history once again this year. I'm finding myself very interested. I'm pretty sure I'm learning more about ancient cultures through homeschooling than I ever learned when I was in school.


Our curriculum uses real, living books to help us learn about history- not a textbook. I will admit that I didn't even know what a "living book" was until several years into our homeschooling when I discovered Charlotte Mason. I had always used a textbook to learn about history in school, and I had chosen textbooks when I began homeschooling. But when I discovered Charlotte Mason's methods, and we began using living books to learn history, I realized how much more powerful this can be than a textbook approach. And so...we now use living books to read about history.

Ancient history living books
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There are some great living books- fiction and nonfiction- for reading about ancient history. I've used some from our curriculum and supplemented with others. Listed below are living books for reading about ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient China, and ancient Rome.

By the way, if you love using living books, I've recently updated my Leah's List of Great Living Books page. On this page, you can find a searchable, ever-growing table of living books. You can find books based on age level, title, author, or content area, and you can find links to those books I've published literature unit studies for.

Spine Books for Ancient History

A "Spine book" is a book that is more of an overview. It covers a variety of information, but not in depth. Some textbooks can be good spine books if they read more like a living book and not like a dry and dusty textbook. A good spine book can be jumping off point. You can read an introduction to the topic there and then find some great living books to go more in depth. Here are a few of the books we've used for spine books in reading about ancient history.

The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor, Revised Edition by Susan Wise Bauer (elementary)


Usborne Internet Linked Ancient World by Fiona Chandler (upper elementary)

Streams of Civilization: Earliest Times to the Discovery of the New World by Mary Stanton, Michael McHugh, and Albert Hyma  (upper elementary/ middle grades)

Ancient Egypt Booklist

Hieroglyphs by Joyce Milton (elementary)

Mummies Made in Egypt by Aliki (elementary)

Tirzah by Lucille Travis (upper elementary)

The Cat of Bubastes by G.A. Henty (middle grades)

D.K. Eyewitness Books: Ancient Egypt by George Hart (upper elementary)

You Wouldn't Want to Be a Pyramid Builder: A Hazardous Job You'd Rather Not Have by Jacquline Morley (elementary)

We're Sailing Down the Nile by Laurie Krebs (prek-elementary)

Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphics by James Rumford (elementary)

Tutankhamen's Gift by Robert Sabuda (elementary)

Pyramid by David Macaulay (elementary)

Ancient Greece Booklist

D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire (upper elementary/ middle grades)











China: Land of the Emperor's Great Wall: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne (middle grades)




The Great Wall of China by Leonard Everett Fisher (upper elementary)


Ancient Rome Booklist


The Roman Colosseum by Elizabeth Mann (upper elementary/middle grades)






You Wouldn't Want to Be a Roman Gladiator!: Gory Things You'd Rather Not Know by John Malam (upper elementary)


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If you're studying Ancient Egypt...

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