The best books for kids on ancient Rome

Caroline Lawrence Author Of The Thieves of Ostia
By Caroline Lawrence

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...

The Thieves of Ostia

By Caroline Lawrence,

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.

The books I picked & why

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The Eagle of the Ninth

By Rosemary Sutcliffe,

Book cover of The Eagle of the Ninth

Why 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.

The Eagle of the Ninth

By Rosemary Sutcliffe,

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.

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…


Minimus Pupil's Book: Starting out in Latin

By Barbara Bell, Helen Forte,

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

Why 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.

Minimus Pupil's Book: Starting out in Latin

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.


Cambridge Latin Course Book 1

By Cambridge School Classics Project,

Book cover of Cambridge Latin Course Book 1

Why 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?

Cambridge Latin Course Book 1

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.


The Ancient City: Life in Classical Athens and Rome

By Peter Connolly, Hazel Dodge,

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

Why 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.

The Ancient City: Life in Classical Athens and Rome

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.


Asterix and Cleopatra

By René Goscinny, Albert Uderzo,

Book cover of Asterix and Cleopatra

Why 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.

Asterix and Cleopatra

By René Goscinny, Albert Uderzo,

Why should I read it?

1 author 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.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in ancient Rome, Julius Caesar, and Athens?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about ancient Rome, Julius Caesar, and Athens.

Ancient Rome Explore 141 books about ancient Rome
Julius Caesar Explore 34 books about Julius Caesar
Athens Explore 37 books about Athens

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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