As I begin to share book lists, I do need to make it clear that you should use your own discernment when it comes to books for your family. Every family’s tolerances and tastes differ, and mine are more laissez-faire than many. I buy no twaddle, and the books I get come recommended from good sources, but I don’t preread every one and I believe in broad reading.
However, I have this luxury because my boys are ravenous readers and not the most careful nor sensitive readers. If, down the line, I get a sensitive reader or one who doesn’t read as much, I would be more choosy.
So, always make decisions in light of your own reality and not based on an abstract ideal. My list in no way represents an abstract ideal, but I hope it’ll be a good starting point for building your own library (or for scouring your local library).
A Book List for a Wide Reading in Ancient History
As the spine of our history reading, I use On the Shores of the Great Sea by M.B. Synge, supplemented by the audio versions of Story of the World (I try to have us listen to all four volumes once a year, often either during lunch or in the car).
The following books are simply the books that live on the bookshelf during our year of studying ancients. I don’t assign them. They don’t have to do any narrations or reports or projects on them. They just read them as the fancy takes them.
Reading what you choose when you choose leads to more interest and better retention, I believe, so I spread the feast and leave them be.
- Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by Lynn Curlee
- Pages of History: Secrets of the Ancients by Bruce Etter
- Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt by Elizabeth Payne
- Atlas of Ancient Worlds by Anne Millard
- Archimedes & the Door of Science Jeanne Bendick
- Augustus Caesar’s World by Genevieve Foster
- Kingdoms & Empires by John Drane
- The Greeks by Susan Peach (Usborne)
- Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by Peter Clayton
- In Search of Troy by Giovanni Caselli
- Encyclopedia of the Ancient World (Usborne)
- Alexander the Great by John Gunther (Landmark)
- Famous Men of Greece by John Haaren
- Peril & Peace by Mindy & Brandon Withrow
- Leif the Lucky by D’Aulaire
I also collect all the Signature Books biographies I can find for $6 or less when I’m book-browsing.
Historical Fiction & Lit
- The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
- Tales of the Greek Heroes by Roger Lancelyn Green
- Black Ships before Troy: The Story of the Iliad by Rosemary Sutcliff
- The Children’s Homer by Padraic Colum (and other titles by this author)
- Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff (and other titles by this author)
- The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
- Classic Myths to Read Aloud by William Russell
- Book of Norse Myths & Book of Greek Myths by D’Aulaire
- Gods and Goddesses of Olympus by Aliki
- Perseus by Geraldine McCaughrean (and other titles by this author)
- Escape by Sea by L.S. Lawrence
Make This List Useful For You
This isn’t a “right way” book list. Use it as a springboard for your own book lists and for ideas, but always filter it through what works in your own house and with your own individual children. Just filling the bookshelf with good books works for my older two, and I don’t know if it will for the three younger.
But I do know that books children pick up voluntarily and read with interest will lead to better retention and, perhaps more importantly, the habit of reading to know. As homeschooled kids ourselves, both Matt and I agreed that what we remember most are the books we read on our own time that weren’t on the school checklist. So we have set out to make sure that can happen easily for our own children, too.