Reading List

Help us expand this list by submitting your own favorite books about ancient history! Fill out our Ancient Reading List form and if we choose your book for the list we’ll let people know you recommend it.

Books for Kids

Books for Adults

Interest Level: Grades 1-4 Difficulty Level: Ages 4-8

Interest Level: Grades 1-4
Difficulty Level: Ages 4-8

Archaeologists Dig for Clues (Let’s Read and Find Out Science Series 2)

Archaeologists on a dig work very much like detectives at a crime scene. Every chipped rock, charred seed, or fossilized bone could be a clue to how people lived in the past. In this information-packed Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science book, Kate Duke explains what scientists are looking for, how they find it, and what their finds reveal.

The Poison KingThe Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest EnemyThe Poison King is a gripping account of one of Rome’s most relentless but least understood foes.

The 5,000 Year Old Puzzle

Interest Level: Grades 3-5
Difficulty Level: Ages 4-8

The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle: Solving a Mystery of Ancient Egypt

This illuminating book invites readers to participate in the process of archaeology as it provides a rare glimpse into the true stories that exist behind the objects in museums.

Intelligence Activities in Ancient RomeIntelligence Activities in Ancient Rome: Trust in the Gods but Verify (Studies in Intelligence)

Professor Sheldon uses the modern concept of the intelligence cycle to trace intelligence activities in Rome whether they were done by private citizens, the government, or the military.

Interest Level: Grades 5-8 Difficulty Level: Ages 9-12

Interest Level: Grades 5-8
Difficulty Level: Ages 9-12

If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge

Orbis Pictus Honor for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children Award Winner.The expert text, stunning photography, and explanatory maps and illustrations will all help young readers see this ancient monument in totally new ways, and inspire future generations of archaeological explorers.


Ella Miller is a 36-year-old archaeologist studying one of the largest volcanic blasts in history, the famous Thera eruption. She develops a novel theory that the devasting blast sparked the biblical ten plagues, which led to the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt…In sharp, unerring prose, it excavates the archaeology of the human soul.

Interest Level: Grades 4+ Difficulty Level: Made for adults, but works wonderfully for guided reading with kids

Interest Level: Grades 4+
Difficulty Level: Made for adults, but works wonderfully for guided reading with kids

Then and Now: The Wonders of the Ancient World Brought to Life in Vivid See-Through Reconstructions

This book shows full-page colour photographs of the most visited ancient sites throughout the world as they appear today – then superimposes, on acetate overlays, vivid, realistic artist’s reconstructions of the same sites as they appeared in their original glory.

Stealing HistoryStealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World

Roger Atwood knows more about the market for ancient objects than almost anyone. He knows where priceless antiquities are buried, who is digging them up, and who is fencing and buying them. In this fascinating book, Atwood takes readers on a journey through Iraq, Peru, Hong Kong, and across America, showing how the worldwide antiquities trade is destroying what’s left of the ancient sites before archaeologists can reach them, and thus erasing their historical significance…

Interest Level: Grades 3-6 Difficulty Level: Ages 9-12

Interest Level: Grades 3-6
Difficulty Level: Ages 9-12

The Gilgamesh Trilogy

Believed to be one of the first stories ever recorded, The Epic of Gilgamesh is retold for children with beautiful illustrations in this version.

MOtel of the mysteriesMotel of the Mysteries

It is the year 4022; all of the ancient country of Usa has been buried under many feet of detritus from a catastrophe that occurred back in 1985. Imagine, then, the excitement that Howard Carson, an amateur archeologist at best, experienced when in crossing the perimeter of an abandoned excavation site he felt the ground give way beneath him and found himself at the bottom of a shaft, which, judging from the DO NOT DISTURB sign hanging from an archaic doorknob, was clearly the entrance to a still-sealed burial chamber…

Interest Level: 3+ Difficulty Level: 9-12

Interest Level: 3+
Difficulty Level: 9-12

Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught Up in a War: An Epic Tale From Ancient Iraq (Winner of the Aesop Prize)

Found in Iraq and older than the Bible, the Koran, or the Torah, this stirring epic – the world’s oldest written story – is accompanied by beautiful Sumerian-style illustrations.

Time DetectivesTime Detectives: How Archaeologists Use Technology to Recapture the Past

University of California Professor of Anthropology Brian Fagan offers a fascinating look at how the key archaeological discoveries of the past 50 years were made-and how new techniques and devices have led to new insights into ancient civilizations.

history for kidsHistory for Kids series

In Charles River Editors’ History for Kids series, your children can learn about history’s most important people and events in an easy, entertaining, and educational way. Pictures help bring the story to life, and the concise but comprehensive book will keep your kid’s attention all the way to the end.

Cleopatra: A LifeCleopatra: A Life

Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Her supple personality and the drama of her circumstances have been lost. In a masterly return to the classical sources, Stacy Schiff boldly separates fact from fiction to rescue the magnetic queen whose death ushered in a new world order.

riza-yi-abbasi_008Resources for Teaching Translated Arabic Literature to Young Readers: A Free Online List-in-progress

“Works were chosen not to be comprehensive or to create a canon,but to be accessible, interesting, compelling, well-translated, and worthwhile for students aged 11-18.” All works are available for free and online.

*Click here or on the title above to visit the website and browse the list of readings.

imaginingatlantiImagining Atlantis

A fascinating historical and archaeological detective story, Imagining Atlantis is a valuable addition to the literature on this essential aspect of our mythohistory.

*Recommended by Stacey Kaleh, AntiquityNOW’s Director of Communications and Marketing.


International Children's Digital LibrarThe International Children’s Digital Library

The site offers free ebooks for kids in over 40 languages. “It is designed to be easy for children to use by themselves—by simply clicking “Read Books,” a list of favorite titles pops up—but kids can learn how to search too, by their own age, types of characters, genre, book length, language and geographical region.”- OpenCulture

After the IceAfter the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000-5,000 BC

“Drawing on the latest research in archaeology, human genetics, and environmental science, After the Ice takes the reader on a sweeping tour of 15,000 years of human history. Steven Mithen brings this world to life through the eyes of an imaginary modern traveler–John Lubbock, namesake of the great Victorian polymath and author of Prehistoric Times.”

hands-around-the-library-coverHands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books (2013 Winner of the Middle East Outreach Council‘s Picture Book Award)

“This remarkable picture book features beautiful and varied illustrations of an actual event, with photo montages at once captivating and playful. It makes the Egyptian uprising accessible to young children through the lens of the library and offers useful background information and possible extensions across the curriculum.” -MEOC

girl who fell to earth
The Girl Who Fell to Earth: A Memoir (2013 Winner of the Middle East Outreach Council‘s Youth Literature Award)

“With its insight into the rapidly changing society in the Gulf, a world infrequently read about by American youth, and a central character caught between two worlds, one of her American mother and the other of her Qatari Bedouin father, Sophia Al-Maria’s The Girl Who Fell To Earth is this year’s Middle East Book Awards winner. The memoir not only reveals conditions in another part of the world, but will help readers be more aware of similarities, good and unfortunate, between the ‘other’ culture and their own. ” -MEOC

razia's ray of hopeRazia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of Education 
(2014 Winner of the Middle East Outreach Council‘s Picture Book Award)

“Based on a true story, Razia’s Ray of Hope offers a view of Afghan culture in real world context, emphasizing the role of family members in problem-solving and the importance of education.  Razia’s dream of going to school reflects the wide understanding that educating girls offers immense personal benefit but also has positive impact on families and national development. ” -MEOC

The Camel in the SunThe Camel in the Sun (2014 Middle East Outreach Council‘s Honorable Mention Picture Book Award)

“The story is based on an Islamic hadith, an account of the Prophet’s words or actions that has been passed down through the centuries.  Although initially a sad story, younger students will be engaged by the message of kindness to animals and compassion in general.  The muted but colorful illustrations are appealing and well-suited for the story.” -MEOC

Never say a mean word againNever Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain 
(2014 Middle East Outreach Council‘s Honorable Mention Picture Book Award)

“The story is based on a real-life actions of the Jewish poet Samuel Ha-Nagid, a royal advisor in 11th Century Muslim Spain. Young students will enjoy and relate easily to the lovely illustrations, humorous story, and lesson about how to keep a friend.” -MEOC

Fear of BeautyFear of Beauty (2014 Winner of the Middle East Outreach Council‘s Youth Literature Award)

Fear of Beauty by Susan Froetschel offers a compelling portrait of a rural Afghanistan village, Laashekoh, and its complex relationship with a recently established American military outpost.  All of the novel’s players–villagers, Americans, and Taliban–work to figure out each other’s multiple, and sometimes conflicting intentions. ” -MEOC

*Unless otherwise noted, all images and descriptions are taken from Click on any image to purchase that book on Amazon.

One response to “Reading List

  1. Pingback: The Middle East Outreach Council Announces 2014 Middle East Book Awards | AntiquityNOW

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