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50+ Living Books for an Ancient Rome Unit

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When we started our Ancient Roman unit using Tapestry of Grace, Year 1 Unit 4, I had high hopes of a wonderful year filled with historical adventures centered upon great living books. And although Tapestry of Grace quickly became lackluster, the Roman unit did not. A few weeks into our studies, I tossed PLAN A out the window and carved a new path. I decided to create my own living-literature based unit by piecing together books we currently owned, titles I came across at the library, and older-and-harder-to-find gems that I found inventoried on other Ancient Rome reading lists.

I divided the unit into six main time periods and then listed the books, to the best of my ability, in chronological order within each period.

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Since I have a wide range of learners, I tried to select books that would meet a wide range of needs. Most of the books we used are for early to mid elementary aged kids. However, I pre-selected a few longer, more in-depth books for my sixth grade daughter to read in addition to the ones we ALL read together as a family. This way, she got to participate in our group learning, but was also challenged to go deeper.

I used the Ancient Rome section of The Usborne Encyclopedia of the Ancient World as a spine reference to help me organize my time periods. It also became a helpful guide that we continued to refer to throughout the entire year-long unit. We read each mini section of The Usborne Encylcopedia at the start of each time period, and then read the other books that I had chosen. It kept us on track and made the unit a cohesive study. (You could also use The Romans: Usborne Illustrated History as both books are very similar.)

In true living book style, I tried to weave together examples of non-fiction, fiction, biography, and even reference-type books.

Please note, I did not buy all of these books. Most of them came through the interlibrary loan system which allows me to borrow books from any publicly-funded library across our state. While we would have liked to have read through all of these, we skipped a few of them due to our limited time. 

Early Rome

The Roman Republic

The Birth of an Empire

One Day in Ancient Rome-This was one of my favorites!!

Everyday Life

The Romans
Roman Antics-Would not recommend. It's kind of pointless.

Birth of Jesus/Life of Jesus

The StoryKeepers Starlight Escape DVD
The Fourth Wiseman DVD- We did not get to watch this one, so I can not endorse it.

The End of the Empire/The Early Church

Fun With Roman Numerals-I normally love David Adler books, but this one was a bit disappointing.

Craft/Project Books

Middle School Books

For more great book suggestions, be sure to head to iHomeschool Network and check out the Massive Guide to Homeschool Reading Lists!


  1. I'd recommend Miranda the Great about a cat during the fall of Rome and The Veil of Smoke by Lauren Lynch, about Pompeii.

  2. Did you all just read through the books, notebook and timeline as you did this? I guess I am wondering what a typical 2 days doing this looked like. Since you are using living books I assume there aren't question/answers so much? I would appreciate more detail or am I missing a link that will provide that? Thank you in advance if you have time to answer.