HUGE List of Living Books for Ancient History

Are you looking for living books for ancient history for your homeschool? Here's a huge list!

I was a second grade teacher in a traditional classroom. Once a week we read from our history textbook. The afternoons were often hot and stuffy in our small classroom. I took turns reading with various kids. I looked around at the kids not reading. Many had their heads down on the desk, looking close to falling asleep. I caught myself zoning out a few times too. I hated the textbook we were required to use. It was dry and boring. And it was difficult to try to make it interesting or make any of it "stick" with my kids.

And then as a homeschool mom I discovered the delight of living books.

I watched the faces of my girls as we read The Black Ships of Troy. We were learning about ancient Greece, and this book, an adaptation of The Iliad for kids, brought the culture and time period to life. The girls anticipated our history reading time every day. And all of us were excited to find out what would happen next in the book.

Living books can make history come alive. 

We study history in a Classical cycle from ancients to modern times. In this post I'm sharing a huge list of living books that you can use to study ancient history. Listed below are living books for reading about ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient China, and ancient Rome.

Living books for ancient history list
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And, if you love using living books for all subjects, check out my living books catalog here. 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.

Living Books for Ancient History: Spine Books

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)

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 history living books girls reading


Living Books for Ancient History

Ancient Egypt 

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











Living books for ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, and China

Ancient China

D.K Eyewitness Books: Ancient China by Arthur Cotterll (upper elementary)

The Silk Route: 7,000 Miles of History by John S. Major (upper elementary)

A Single Pebble: A Story of the Silk Road by Bonnie Christiansen (elementary)

You Wouldn’t Want to Work on the Great Wall of China!: Defenses You’d Rather Not Build by Jacqueline Morley (elementary)

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

Ancient Rome 

Ancient Rome and Pompeii: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne (middle grades)

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)


Living books list for ancient history


We finished The Black Ships of Troy and dove even deeper into Ancient Greece with The Children's Homer and D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths. These amazing living books sparked our interest in the time period and made our history time something we looked forward to each day!

If you're learning about ancient history with your kids, check out some of these awesome living books for ancient history and make your history time come alive.


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