Using Literature to Teach Ancient History in Elementary School

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teach ancient history


Many of us use a curriculum to teach history; but using literature to teach history can be a great teaching tool. I am beginning this history literature series with some of the best books to teach ancient history. Students in ancient times, sitting by candlelight, actually read history through literature. There simply was no other way of studying history, and the subject has effectively been taught this way ever since. Using literature to teach history illuminates the time period, helps integrate the history curriculum, and enriches social studies. With my love for literature and history, it only makes sense to combine the two so I have gathered some of my favorite books that teach ancient history in elementary school.

If You Were Me and Lived in Ancient Greece by Carole P. Roman allows students to travel through time to visit the most interesting civilization throughout history in the first of four books of her series. Students learn what kind of food you might eat in Ancient Greece, the type of clothing you might wear, what your name could be, and what children in the olden days did for fun. This book is a child’s basic introduction to ancient history where they discover the world through the eyes of a young person.

Mummies and Pyramids by Mary Pope Osborne is a nonfiction companion to the Magic Tree House #3: Mummies in the Morning. When Jack and Annie got back from their adventure, they had lots of questions. Why did the people make mummies? What was the mysterious writing on mummy cases? How did ancient Egyptians spend their days? How were the pyramids built? Find out the answers to these questions and more as Jack and Annie track the facts.

Mummies Made in Egypt by Aliki shares how a mummy is a mystery – hidden in layers of ancient bandage, bedecked with priceless jewels. Why did the Egyptians of long ago prepare and wrap their dead to last forever? And how did they do it? Step by step, follow the process that took seventy days, from the embalmer’s slab, where the corpse was made ready, down into the tomb, where the mummy was sealed away and sent to its new life in eternity.

China by Mary Pope Osborne is a nonfiction companion to the Magic Tree House #14: Day of the Dragon King. When Jack and Annie came back from their adventure, they had lots of questions. Who was the Dragon King? How did he build the Great Wall? What is Chinese New Year? What are some other Chinese traditions? Find out the answers to these questions and more as Jack and Annie track the facts about Chinese history and culture.

Who Was Julius Caesar? by Nico Medina portraits a man who came, who saw, who conquered. Julius Caesar was a force to be reckoned with as a savvy politician, an impressive orator, and a brave soldier. Born in Rome in 100 B.C., he quickly climbed the ladder of Roman politics, making allies – and enemies – along the way. His victories in battle awarded him the support of the people, and he named himself dictator for life. The good times, however, would not last long. On the Ides of March, Caesar was brutally assassinated by a group of senators determined to end his tyranny, bringing his reign to an end.

These are only a few of my favorite books that teach ancient history; there are so many more out there! Feel free to share in the comments what you consider the best book to teach ancient history.


Welcome to My Happy Homeschool! My name is Susan Reed and my heart’s desire is to encourage the homeschool mom to live out God’s calling and stay the course.


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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).