Living books for ancient history: Rome

Living books for ancient history: Rome

One of the great things about studying ancient Rome while homeschooling was its relevance to the New Testament. Christ lived in the ancient Roman world, and the church was born under its rule, so it is helpful to understand this background. 

One of the highlights of our trip overseas was to Palatine Hill, attributed as the birthplace of Rome. Walking through the ruins of Caesar Augustus’ house and the Palace of Domitian, among other ruins was amazing. Our history studies definitely enhanced our experience there.

But travel is not the only reason to study history, of course. Worldviews matter, and ancient Rome has had a huge influence in shaping the world both historically and ideologically. Here are some of our favourite resources, and others that I’ve found since that are well worth checking out.

Famous Men of Rome

Famous Men of Rome contains thirty short biographies, beginning with the stories of Romulus and Remus, the twin brothers credited with founding the city. It cover the key figures of ancient Rome, the early days of the Republic, the Empire and the decline.

We used this course with our children and it is so easy to use along with the guide. You can add in any other read alouds as well.


The Greenleaf Guide to Famous Men of Rome

This guide includes sections on how to use the guide,  the geography of Rome, a background study and a reading assignment form. It also has a chronological overview which is a great resource.

Each of the 30 lessons follows the order of the main text (above) and includes a vocabulary list, reading guide, people and places and questions for discussion.


City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction

by David Macaulay

This is an excellent book for setting the stage and background to studying ancient Rome.

We have all of David Macaulay’s books. Our boys especially loved pouring over them, and they are a good idea to have available for your children to browse while you have a read aloud on the go.


by Diane Stanley

Diane Stanley’s books are beautifully illustrated and engaging history picture books for children. Get them all – you won’t be disappointed. This is a good biography of Cleopatra for children.

Other biographies by Stanley include Shakespeare, Joan of Arc, Leonardo Davinci, to name a few.


Pompeii – Buried Alive!

An excellent easy reader about what village life was like before  that horrifying day. What happened and how it happened.

A very interesting book for young readers.


Historical Fiction

Detectives in Togas

by Henry Winterfield

The first of two hilarious mysteries set in ancient Rome. Entertaining and educational. Our kids really enjoyed this book. Follow up with Mystery of the Roman Ransom.


The Bronze Bow

by Elizabeth George Speare

A personal favourite of mine, The Bronze Bow is set in the time of Christ’s ministry, during a time of growing resentment of the Roman occupation of Israel. It’s a story of how a young man full of hatred learns the meaning of true love.

This book is also used in LLATL Tan and there is a Progeny Press literature guide for it if you’d like to study it in more depth, adding to your ancient Rome study.

The Aeneid for Boys and Girls

by Alfred Church

This is the tale of Aeneas, the legendary ancestor of Romulus, who escaped from Troy and wandered the Mediterranean for years before settling in Italy. Written in similar style to the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Aeneid is an epic poem by Virgil, meant to glorify the imperial city of Rome. There is also an illustrated edition.

Twice Freed

We didn’t have this book, so this is from the blurb:

“Onesimus is a slave. Eirene is a rich merchant’s daughter. Onesimus longs to gain his freedom and Eirene’s love. However, he doesn’t realize where true freedom lies. He wants nothing to do with Jesus Christ. His master, Philemon, may follow the teachings of the Christ and his apostle Paul… but Onesimus has other plans.”


The Ides of April

The story of a young Greek slave in the household of a Roman Senator involved in political schemes. When the senator is found mysteriously murdered,  Hylas falls under suspicion along with all the household slaves. His attempts to get to the bottom of the mystery brings hime in touch with the new secret sect of Christians.


A Triumph for Flavius

This story of a young Roman boy, Flavius, and his captured Greek slave. A great way to learn about about Roman culture as the story unfolds.

Suitable for younger readers.



Activity books

Classical Kids: An Activity Guide to Life in Ancient Greece and Rome

Hands-on projects cement ideas and facts in your child’s mind with something tangible to relate to and connect to.

The thing with activity books is that many of them have a handful of projects that are useful to you and the rest are fluff. This book’s activities work and it was one we came back to often. The instructions are well written with helpful illustrations for activities covering art, maths, cooking, science and geography. Interesting facts and trivia about ancient Greece and Rome are included as well.

History Pockets: Ancient Rome

We love History Pockets! These books are an enjoyable and very convenient way to keep all your hands-on project bits and pieces in one place, a large pocket. This one is for grades 4-6+.

Templates and information provided. Check out the Ancient Civilisations History Pocket for younger children, Grades 1-3.

Have your pocket at the ready while you are reading some of your other living books for ancient Rome.


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