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Recommended Reading

    Young Readers     Intermediate Readers     Advanced Readers     Supplemental Reading

The Heritage Classical Curriculum recommends reading three or four age appropriate "core" selections, as well as three or more books from our "supplemental" reading list. More information about the methodology associated with the Heritage program can be found in the Curriculum User Guide.

Young Readers' Core Selections

These selections are engaging and easy-to-read for elementary school students. They emphasize the most romantic stories of Roman history and provide an excellent foundation for future studies.

      Famous Men of Rome     by John Haaren

Biographical sketches of thirty of the most prominent characters in Roman history, from legendary times to the fall of the Western Empire. It begins with the legends of the Kingdom of Rome and then follows prominent Roman from the days of the Early Republic to the age of Constantine the Great. This book is from the Famous Men series by John Haaren and A. P. Poland, and is very popular with homeschoolers.

      Story of the Romans     by Helene Guerber

This book covers the history of Rome from the legend of Romulus to the closing days of the western empire. Short, accessible chapters tell important stories from Roman history in simple prose, written at 6th grade level, but understandable to even younger readers. An excellent first introduction to Roman history for grammar school students.

      Stories from Roman History     by Lena Dalkeith

A dozen short, and nicely illustrated stories from Roman history, written for elementary school children. Its subjects are many of the most famous men in Roman history, from Romulus to Caesar. Only a third the size of most comprehensive histories, it nevertheless covers many of the most romantic incident of Republican Rome.

Intermediate Readers' Core Selections

These selections cover much of the same material as those recommended for beginners, but are more appropriate for middle school age students. They provide a somewhat more sophisticated introduction to Roman history, but are still story-based and accessible to students with a wide range of abilities. Once an intermediate student has learned the basics, he can turn to any of a number of biographies of famous Romans, or enjoy some of Church's excellent historical fiction of the era.

      The Story of Rome     by Mary Macgregor

This history of Rome is filled with exciting stories from the most Romantic periods of Roman history, although it focuses more on the Kingdom and Republican eras than on the Imperial age. This history of Greece is accessible and well organized, and it is considerably more detailed than Guerber's. Because of its length, we do not recommend it for 6th grade or younger, but it is an excellent reference, thoroughly engaging, and a good candidate for a middle school student's first foray into Roman history.

      City of the Seven Hills     by Samuel Harding

This middle school historical reader, from the from the Lake History series, covers the history of Republican Rome in clear, accessible prose. It is considerably shorter than Macgregor's history, and tells fewer stories in somewhat more detail, but provides a clear and thorough review of the major events of Roman history. Outlines of each chapter are also provided for review.

      The Aeneid for Boys and Girls     by Alfred J. Church

This version of Vigil's great epic is re-written for young people, but retains a great deal of the romance and drama of the original. The adventures of Aeneas on wanderings from Troy to various Greek isles, to Carthage, and finally to his his eventual home in Italy among the Latins is vividly retold, but so combat intensive, it is likely to appeal mainly to students who appreciate martial drama.

      The Burning of Rome     by By Alfred J. Church

This book covers a dramatic period of Nero’s reign, encompassing the catastrophic fire that destroyed Rome, and also the rebellion, known as Piso’s Conspiracy, that soon followed. Although this is a work of historical fiction, virtually all of the characters in this book are based on historical Romans, and the levels of treachery, cowardice, martyrdom, and villainy displayed by the characters in this drama would be incredible if it were not actually true.

      Plutarch's Lives     by W. H. Weston

This is our favorite rendition of Plutarch's Lives. Instead of including all fifty biographies, Weston focuses only on twelve of Plutarch's most famous subjects. His work is therefore able to retain a great deal more of the character of Plutarch's original narrative than more highly condensed versions. Since Plutarch was a moral philosopher as well as a biographer, retaining the tone and dialogue of the original collection is key to understanding his contribution to Western thought. Plutarch's complete lives run over a thousand pages. This is an excellent condensation.

Advanced Readers' Core Selections

These selections are meant to appeal to students who are already familiar with the basic stories of Roman History and would like a more in depth study. The Heritage Classical Curriculum high school program provides an exceptionally good transition between an elementary knowledge of Roman History, and a full-fledged introduction to the classics. It does not require students to read unabridged translations of any of the great works of the ancients, but instead introduces them to faithful, but shortened and simplified versions. This course of study should prepare mature students to appreciate the classics if and when they do read them in college, and will give them a very respectable familiarity with the great works, even if they never take a college level class in Roman literature.

      Historical Tales: Roman     by Charles Morris

Morris is a terrific author and these retellings of a few dozen vignettes from Roman history provide an excellent review for anyone whose Roman History needs an enjoyable refresher. Morris includes both famous and lesser known stories in his collection so even those who are familiar with introductory accounts will find plenty of new and entertaining material.

      Hannibal     by Jacob Abbott

This riveting story of Hannibal, the Carthaginian general who nearly conquered Rome, is told with as much interest as if it were an adventure novel. The book covers both the first and third Punic wars in order to provide an introduction and conclusion to the epic struggle of the Second Punic war, a war masterminded by the greatest enemy in Roman history. Hannibal was perhaps the greatest general of Ancient times, and certainly one of the greatest of all times. His brilliant strategies inflicted horrendous casualties on Rome, with only a fraction of the men and resources. Had he prevailed, it would have altered the course of all of western history.

      Pictures from Roman Life and Story     by Alfred J. Church

This book covers the first two centuries of Imperial Rome, from the death of Caesar Augustus to the reign of Marcus Aurelius. It tells the story of many lesser known incidents of the era, from the palace intrigue of the early Caesars, to short biographies of several imperial era gentlemen and scholars. It is written as a series of vignettes, rather than a comprehensive history, but captures the spirit of the age very well.

      Julius Caesar     by Ada Russell

The life of Julius Caesar spans one of the most fascinating and important periods in all of Ancient history, and this book does an excellent job of bringing all the characters of the age to life. The first century B.C. saw the collapse of a corrupt republic, a number of savage civil wars, and the rise of a relatively benign tyranny under Caesar. The book devotes just enough attention to the political dramas of the time to give intermediate students some idea of the vicious politicking of the era, without being tiring.

      Augustus Caesar     by Rene Francis

This fascinating biography of Caesar Augustus does an excellent job of explaining the delicate transition between the era of the Roman republic and that of the Empire. Julius Caesar began to lay the foundation of the empire, but at the time of his death most Roman institutions had not yet been transformed. It was the genius of Augustus that enabled the Roman Empire to rise from the ashes of a degenerate republic to become the most powerful and brilliantly organized empire the world had yet seen.

      Helmet and Spear     by Alfred J. Church

The major clashes between Greece and Rome, and their despotic or barbarian neighbors is given here. Six major conflicts are covers: the Persian invasion of Greece, the fight between Greece and Carthage for Sicily, the Macedonian Invasion of Persia, the Punic Wars, Rome's early encounters with Barbarian Celts and Germans, and Rome's fall to the Barbarians.

Supplemental Reading Selections

We recommend that students who are studying Roman History for the first time read four or more selections from our supplemental reading list, in addition to their core material. All selections should be age and interest appropriate, but any student can select their supplemental reading from any difficulty level. In addition to those listed below, "core" reading selections from above ones reading level are highly recommended. Intermediate students, in particular, may enjoy some of the simplified classics recommended for advanced readers.

TitleGenreHistorical Era
The Kingdom of Jupiter by Francillon mythology heroic
Our Little Roman Cousin by Cowles fiction Decline of Republic
Our Little Carthaginian Cousin by Winlow fiction Punic Wars
Children's Plutarch: Romans by Gould short bios Republic
Old World Hero Stories by Tappan short bios all
Stories from Ancient Rome by Church comprehensive Early Republic
Story of the Roman People by Tappan comprehensive all
Stories in Stone from the Roman Forum by Lovell social history all
On the Shore of the Great Sea by Synge comprehensive Republic
Herman and Thusnelda by Upton biography Early Empire
Julius Caesar by Abbott biography Decline of Republic
Cleopatra by Abbott biography Early Empire
Nero by Abbott biography Early Empire
To the Lions by Church fiction Early Empire
Stories from Livy by Church episodic Early Republic
Adventures of a Roman Boy by Church fiction Decline of Republic
Lords of the World by Church fiction Decline of Republic
Romulus by Abbott biography Kingdom of Rome
Our Young Folk's Plutarch by Kaufman short bios all
The Story of Rome by Gilman comprehensive all
The Story of Carthage by Church comprehensive Punic Wars
The Story of the Goths by Bradley comprehensive Fall of Empire
The Byzantine Empire by Oman comprehensive Byzantine Empire

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