The best books for kids on ancient Rome

Who am I?

Caroline Lawrence is the author of over 30 historical novels for children and young adults, most of which are set in ancient Rome. She studied Latin, Ancient Greek and Biblical Hebrew at Berkeley and Cambridge and has been investigating the ancient world ever since. In 2009, she won the Classical Association Prize for 'a significant contribution to the public understanding of Classics’. Her aim is to make that world accessible for kids.


I wrote...

Book cover of The Thieves of Ostia

What is my book about?

Still my best-selling book and still used in schools, this is the first in a 17-book series called The Roman Mysteries aimed at children aged 9-12. The BBC made a TV series based on ten of the books in 2007 and 2008.

Flavia Gemina is a natural at solving mysteries. The daughter of a ship's captain living in Ostia, the port of Rome, in AD79, she and her three friends, Jonathan, a Jewish boy (and secretly a Christian); Nubia, an African slave girl; and Lupus, a mute beggar boy, must work together to discover who is beheading the watchdogs that guard people's homes, and why. A talented storyteller, Caroline Lawrence has created a delightfully readable and accessible series that children will want to read time and time again.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Eagle of the Ninth

Caroline Lawrence Why did I love this book?

Possibly the best historical fiction for kids set in Roman times. Set in Roman Britain rather than Rome, it is full of action and suspense. Although it was written in 1954 it is still considered a classic.

By Rosemary Sutcliff,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Eagle of the Ninth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

The Everyman edition reprints the classic black and white illustrations of C. Walter Hodges which accompanied the first edition in 1954.

Around the year 117 AD, the Ninth Legion, stationed at Eburacum - modern day York - marched north to suppress a rebellion of the Caledonian tribes, and was never heard of again. During the 1860s, a wingless Roman Eagle was discovered during excavations at the village of Silchester in Hampshire, puzzling archaeologists and scholars alike. Rosemary Sutcliff weaves a compelling story from these two mysteries, dispatching her hero, the young Roman officer Marcus Aquila, on a perilous journey beyond…


Book cover of Minimus Pupil's Book: Starting out in Latin

Caroline Lawrence Why did I love this book?

There are many books for kids who would like to learn Latin but this charmingly illustrated book, also set in Roman Britain, is one of the most accessible, especially for children in primary school.

By Barbara Bell, Helen Forte,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Minimus Pupil's Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A lively introduction to Latin for children aged 7 and over. Join in the fun with Minimus - a mix of myths, stories, grammar support and historical background! This pupil's book is a lively, colourful introduction to the Latin language and the culture of Roman Britain. A fun way to teach English grammar, it is ideal for cross-curricular activities.


Book cover of Cambridge Latin Course Book 1

Caroline Lawrence Why did I love this book?

‘Caecilius est in horto!’ For slightly older children the Cambridge Latin Course has now become such a part of pop culture that some of its characters have been referenced in Dr Who. And what other language textbook can reduce pupils to tears – the good kind! – in the final chapters?

By Cambridge School Classics Project,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cambridge Latin Course Book 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The leading Latin course worldwide Book I begins in the city of Pompeii shortly before the eruption of Vesuvius. Book I is full colour throughout, with a clear layout of stories and language notes. Featuring a glossary for quick reference and comprehension questions, the book also includes a full explanation of language points and grammar practice exercises.


Book cover of The Ancient City: Life in Classical Athens and Rome

Caroline Lawrence Why did I love this book?

Kids will love seeing what Ancient Rome might have looked like, and in this book they get Ancient Athens in the bargain. The late, great Peter Connolly illustrates every aspect of ancient Rome, not only the famous monuments but ordinary homes, what people wore, their artefacts and even their gods. This is such a meticulously researched and clearly presented book that scholars use it, too.

By Peter Connolly, Hazel Dodge,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Ancient City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Superb, detailed reconstructions of buildings provide the starting-point for a vivid exploration of these two great cities and the lives of the people who inhabited them. Peter Connolly's illustrations and reconstructions have a unique authority, with their blend of superb draughtsmanship, imagination, and meticulous research. The text appeals to a wide spectrum of readers, from young adults to professional historians.


Book cover of Asterix and Cleopatra

Caroline Lawrence Why did I love this book?

A Belgian series of 36 comic books originally written in French, these have been brilliantly translated into English. Set in the time of Julius Caesar with a small band of Gauls as the heroes and the Romans the ‘baddies’ this series offers many surprisingly accurate insights into the world of ancient Rome. A colourful, humorous, visual format means it will appeal to even the most reluctant readers. Start with Asterix and Cleopatra just to get them hooked.

By René Goscinny, Albert Uderzo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Asterix and Cleopatra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The latest action-packed adventure from our indomitable Gauls, Asterix and the Griffin, is out now!

How can lovely Queen Cleopatra show Julius Caesar that ancient Egypt is still a great nation? Her architect Edifis recruits his Gaulish friends to help him build a magnificent palace within three months. There are villainous saboteurs to be outwitted, but Asterix, Obelix and Getafix still find time to go sight-seeing - and leave their mark on the pyramids and the Sphinx's nose.


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The Olympus Project

By Zoe Routh,

Book cover of The Olympus Project

Zoe Routh Author Of The Olympus Project

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Leadership futurist Adventurist Former bellydancer Historical and speculative fiction nut Marathoner

Zoe's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

The future is uncertain, and the stakes are high. Climate change has wreaked havoc on the planet, and humanity is on the brink of extinction. The only hope lies in the Olympus Project, a plan to colonise the moon and build on the Artemis Base.

Led by three of the best and brightest--Troy Bruin, Xavier Consus, and Xanthe Waters--they must battle both winner-take-all competition and their own differences in order to save humanity from destruction. But even as they search for a way to reconcile, a secret organisation is lurking in the shadows, threatening to extinguish their efforts and ensure humanity's downfall.

A gripping tale of leadership, ambition, and the indomitable human spirit.

The Olympus Project

By Zoe Routh,

What is this book about?

***WINNER: GOLD MEDAL in Fiction - Thriller - Environmental, Readers' Favorite Awards 2023***

They are the best. The brightest. The hope of humanity.

And they might destroy us all…

The future. Climate change has rendered much of the world desolate. Crops are failing. Rising seas have flooded coastal communities. The earth is dying, and humanity careens toward extinction.

Enter the Olympus Project—a plan to colonise the moon, building on the Artemis Base, led by three of humankind’s best and brightest: Troy Bruin, Xavier Consus, and Xanthe Waters.

But even the best and brightest can fall prey to humanity’s failing. Soon…


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