Booklist: Children's books about the Romans topic
What did the Romans do for us? The answer is a lot!
The Romans history topic is a popular one with children, and we've put together a list of recommended children's books about the Romans for exploring all sorts of interesting themes, from gladiators and gods to eruptions and emperors.
Escape from Pompeii
Escape from Pompeii tells the story of a young boy called Tranio who lives in Pompeii at the time of the famous eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. This captivating picture book allows readers to follow the footsteps of Tranio and his friend Livia as they come to terms with the destruction of their city and find their own routes to freedom.
There is also an accompanying 2-week English unit available from KS2History.
The Thieves of Ostia
A gripping novel that provides plenty of background information about life in Ancient Roman times. The plot of The Thieves of Ostia centres around a young girl called Flavia who investigates the mystery of who is killing the dogs in the Roman port of Ostia. This is a popular choice for KS2 classrooms and is part of the well-loved Roman Mysteries series.
Meet the Ancient Romans
Picture-book-style information text
A picture-book style non-fiction text about the Romans. Each page has a short chunk of text accompanied by simple, bold illustrations or infographics. Humorous and stylish without compromising on factual content, this book is a popular choice with reluctant or younger readers.
Empire's End - A Roman Story
Empire's End: A Roman Story is part of the VOICES series that celebrates the lives of BAME protagonists during key eras of British history. This book tells the tale of a young North African girl who sets out on a danger-filled journey to Britain during Roman times. This is a gripping adventure that offers a new perspective into the myriad of Roman narratives shared in schools and is full of details that immerse readers in knowledge of life in Roman times. The story helps to develops an understanding of the Roman world as one that was full of many different cultures, religions and ethnicities.
So You Think You've Got It Bad: A Kid's Life in Ancient Rome
Chae Strathie & Marisa Morea
Published in collaboration with The British Museum, this children's information book offers a humorous and informative introduction to daily life in Ancient Rome and has a high appeal to readers in KS2. The book compares modern-day life for children to different aspects of daily life for the Ancient Romans, including clothes and hairstyles, education, family life, pets, food and hobbies. The information is presented through speech bubbles, diagrams and bright cartoon-style illustrations as well as accessible chunks of text.
Romans on the Rampage
A super-fun novel that tells of the crazy adventures of Perilus, a Roman boy who dreams of riding chariots in the Circus Maximus. Romans on the Rampage is a laugh-out-loud story offering a bit of light relief and is perfect to read aloud to lower KS2. There's also a free accompanying Teachers' Resource Pack available.
The Romans: Gods, Emperors and Dormice
Comic-style information text
Marcia Williams embraces the Romans topic with her distinctive comic-book style. This informative text covers a range of sub-topics featuring key people, places and myths. This is a book with a high level of visual appeal and is particularly popular for engaging reluctant readers.
Queen of Darkness
With the Celtic tribes of Ancient Britain leaving no records, we only have the Roman accounts of what happened during Boudicca’s revolt. Tony Bradman has taken details from Tacitus’ description of the Iceni queen and the battles she led in order to create a vivid and gripping story told by Rhianna, who witnesses the events of a turbulent time in British history. This story aims to give young readers an understanding of the motivations that led to the uprising and shows a darker side to Boudicca's story, giving an opportunity to open up discussion on a range of ideas.
The Roman Quests: Escape from Rome
The first of Caroline Lawrence’s four Roman Quests, Escape from Rome is a completely gripping adventure filled with danger, excitement and some really gritty themes to get stuck into. Taking his siblings with him, twelve-year-old Juba is forced to flee Emperor Domitian in Rome and set off on a journey to find his uncle in Britannia (the edge of the known world). Steeped in interesting historical details and covering some challenging themes including slavery and immigration, this story is thrilling from the very first page and most suitable for Upper Key Stage 2 and beyond.
Defenders: Dark Arena
Chapter Book (dyslexia friendly)
In the ‘Defenders’ series, best-selling author Tom Palmer brings together his passions for football and history in haunting stories that are ‘super-readable’ due to their accessible layout including a dyslexia-friendly font and tinted paper. In this story, football-lover Seth is interested in the new stadium being built by a Premier League football club, but it soon becomes apparent that something untoward is happening and the lives of the workers there are in danger. As Seth encounters the shadows of slaves from Roman times, he is forced to confront his own fears as horrible injustices in the present day mirror atrocities from the past.
A Roman Adventure (The Histronauts)
Frances Durkin & Grace Cooke
Graphic Novel / Activity
This engaging book is a fun hybrid between graphic novel, activity book and information text. The story, told in graphic novel form, follows a group of friends who travel back in time and explore Ancient Rome. At various different points in the story there are relevant puzzles, fact boxes, activities and project ideas. This book has a high visual appeal and is a great addition to your library of Roman topic books.