Classical Childrens Books

Ancient Literature For Kids

Stories make Ancient History come alive for Children

This list of ancient literature for kids will point you to the best stories from ancient history. Make the people and places of long ago come alive through great literature.

Tips for Teaching Ancient Literature

How do you get kids to understand the background of ancient culture found in literature?

I found a helpful tool at our local shopping mall.

Ancient History Time Line
Start by making a time line showing history in increments of 1000 years. Put in four or five historical events they are familiar with that are spread out over the span of the centuries.

Now add the "You Are Here" arrow to show where in history the events you are reading about took place. This gives them a sense of perspective.

World Map You can also do that with a simple map of the world.

After placing the great stories from ancient literature on a map and time line, kids can form a greater appreciation of how the cultural and historical events are part of the story of humanity.

Ancient Mesopotamian Literature

Gilgamesh The King

By Ludmila Zeman

Grades 4 - 8
Pictorial re-telling of ancient story
2500 BC
Mesopotomia? Sumer? Uruk? How can modern kids relate to such distant lands and times?

Zeman's edition of the epic poem of Gilgamesh will help younger students become familiar with the customs and legends of cradle of civilization. Gilgamesh was an ancient but spoiled king. Changed by friendship that ends in death, he has a quest to find immortal life. This is the first book in a popular triology first published in the 1990s.

Gilgamesh The Hero

By Geraldine McCaughrean

Translation of the ancient epic poem
Grades 6 to 10
2500 BC
This version of the tale of Gilgamesh is closer to the original than the book above for younger children. It recounts Gilgamesh's friendship with Enkidu and his journey to discovering immortality. He hears the Sumerian legend of the flood, very similar to the account of Noah.

Hittite Warrior

By Joanne Williamson

Historical Fiction
Canaan, Approximateldy 1200 BC
Uriah is the fictitious main character, a Hittite prince who needs to leave his homeland (modern day Turkey) when it is overrun by the sea people (early Greek sailors/travelers.) He meets and interacts with the historic figures of Sisera, and the Hebrew judges Barak and Deborah. A well-written, action packed story that shows how the cultures of the Hittites, Egyptians, Hebrews, Caananites, and Philistines blended and struggled with each other in the centuries before the Assyrians dominated the Middle East.

Ancient Egyptian Literature

The Golden Goblet

By Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Historical Fiction
Grades 4 - 8
Ancient Egypt
1400 BC
A young goldsmith apprentice becomes aware of tomb robbers stealing gold from the Valley of the Kings. In a daring escapade he follows and tries to capture them. Few kids will NOT enjoy this story of trauma and danger.

Mara, Daughter of the Nile

By Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Historical Fiction
Grades 4 - 8
Ancient Egypt - During the reign of Hatchepsut
1500 BC
Another exciting story of ancient Egypt by the author of the Golden Goblet. Mara is Babylonian by birth, but has been an Egyptian slave as long as she can remember. Because she knows the Babylonian language, she is taken on as a spy by someone trying to other throw Queen Hatchepsut - one of Egypt's most famous pharoahs. But Mara lives a dangerous life as a double spy.

Cat of Bubastes

By George Alfred Henty

Historical Fiction
Grades 6 - 12
Ancient Egypt - During the reign of Thutmose III
1450 BC
Prince Amabu is captured and sent to Egypt as a slave. He is sentenced to death for killing a cat and seeks to escape. A panoramic view of the culture of ancient Egypt by the master of ancient literature for kids.

Ancient Greek Literature

Yeeks! It's the Greeks!

Learn about their culture and civilization with our ancient literature for kids Greek selection.


Homer, the Greek poet, lived in the eighth century B.C. He wrote the first epic poems of Western civilization and Greek culture. The books by Homer, Iliad and the Odyssey, are legends from the era of the Trojan War. Long believed to be totally legendary, the city of Troy was discovered by modern archeologists. Most historians now believe the tales have historical basis as well as literary value.

The Iliad of Homer

By Barbara Picard

Illustrated translation of Homer's poem
Grades 4 - 8
Ancient Greece - The Battle of Troy
1200 BC
This illustrated version captures the story of Achilles, the Battle of Troy, and the story of Helen of Troy. This book is great for kids to read, or as an introduction to more difficult translations of the original.

Homer - The Iliad

Translation by Samuel Butler

Prose translation of Homer's Iliad
Grades 6 through adult
Ancient Greece - Battle of Troy
1200 BC
This unabridged 1925 English translation of the Iliad by Homer was done by Samuel Butler and is written in prose. In 26 chapters it tells the story of King Agamemnon and Achilles the Warrior as well as the great conflict between them. The preface of this book also discusses some of the issues a translator of a great epic must address.

The Odyssey of Homer

By Barbara Picard

Illustrated Translation of Epic Poem
Grades 4 - 8
Ancient Greece - Battle of Troy
estimated era - 1200 BC
This is the story of Odysseus and his twenty year journey (or odyssey) back to his wife after the battle of Troy. This version of the Greek Homer is specifically for younger readers with captivating illustrations.

The Odyssey by Homer

Translation by George Herbert Palmer

Unabridged 1891 Translation
Grades 6 - adult
Ancient Greece - Battle of Troy
estimated 1200 BC
This is a classic English translation of Homer's Odyssey. It is written in prose rather than poetic lines, making it understandable for modern readers in older grades.

The Roman Empire

Detectives In Togas

Mystery of the Roman Ransom

By Henry Winterfeld

3rd to 5th Grade
Senators, togas, the Forum, geometry, and a cranky old teacher unite with seven young boys who are willing to turn Rome upside down to find out who dun it. More of detective stories in an ancient setting than true classic literature, these books provide light-hearted stories in the background of the Roman Empire.

Ancient Rome and Pompeii

By Mary Pope Osborne & Natalie Boyce

Non-fiction: 3rd-5th Grade
A non-fiction account of Rome from the authors of the Magic Tree House series, this is an easy to read 7 chapter book, well-illustrated, of Roman history.


By Diane Stanley & Peter Vennema

Non-fiction: 6th grade & above
While the pictures in this beautifully illustrated book would appeal to children and give it an appearance of a child's book, the content is actually for upper elementary through high school. It tells the true story of Cleopatra as much as can be drawn from the historical account. It also demonstrates how three strong and competing empires (Greece, Egypt, Rome) produced an ambitious eighteen year old woman who turned her Mediterranean world upside down.

The Bronze Bow

By Elizabeth George Speare

Historical Fiction - Childrens Christian Books
4th to 8th Grade
Daniel Bar Jamin lives in Judea in the first century and witnessed the death of his father by crucifixion. Filled with anger, he joins a band of outlaw rebels, only to be disappointed in them. He and two friends have numerous adventures and decide to try themselves to rid the country of the Romans. But his sister Leah becomes ill. It looks like the only one who might be able to help her is a traveling rabbi named Jesus.

The Ides of April

By Mary Ray

Historical Fiction: 12 to young adult
Nero is the ruler and much of Rome is in turmoil - particularly in the home of Senator Caius Pomponius. In fact a murder has been committed and all slaves in the household are to be executed according to Roman law. An escaped slave has only a few days to find the real murderer and save his mother and fellow-slaves.

Christian Books From the First Century AD

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