A picture of a selection of historical fiction novels on a bright yellow background

Image: Ryan MacEachern/Penguin


Meg and the Romans by Jan Pienkowski (2017)

Join Meg and Mog in discovering what the Romans were really like. Meg and Mog have a new friend in this book – a Roman man in need of help. But will Meg’s spell get him back to London? It’s safe to say that as this is Meg we’re talking about; his return trip won’t be a straightforward one. As with any spellbinding Meg and Mog adventure, this is the perfect book for you and your little reader to curl up with and explore some magical new words, shapes, colours, and characters, together. 

Recommended reading age: 2-5 years old

Romans on the Rampage by Jeremy Strong (2015)

We imagine that Young Perilus is just like a lot of you; he’s got dreams, hopes, idols, and a big imagination. He also happens to be living in Roman times and has dreams of becoming a world-famous chariot rider. He loves to practise at home (in a homemade chariot pulled by his pet goat) and dreams of racing in the Circus Maximus one day. Well, that day has come about sooner than he could’ve ever imagined, because when Perilus' hero, charioteer Scorcha, goes missing on the day of the big race, Perilus finds his dream coming true… sort of. 

Recommended reading age: 7-9 years old

The History Keepers: Circus Maximus by Damian Dibben (2012)

Join Jake Djones and the History Keepers for the race of their lives! The second instalment of the series takes place in Ancient Rome where Jake and the extraordinary secret service are trying to protect the true course of history – again. They’re on the hunt for the despicable Agata Zeldt as she plots to topple the empire of Ancient Rome and change the face of history forever. Can they stop her before she throws the past, present, and future into turmoil? You’ll need to hold on tight from start to finish with this one. 

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

Wanted! by Kate Thompson (2012)

Like your reads with a side of danger? Transport yourself into the heart of Ancient Rome and follow the adventures of a young baker, Marcus. Don’t worry, his adventure has little to do with actual baking. After a dramatic start to his story, Marcus finds himself holding the reins of mighty horse Incitatus, the murderous Emperor Littleboots’ most prized and powerful animal. Will Marcus find a way to keep Incitatus hidden? If our knowledge of Ancient Rome has taught us anything, it’s never single-handedly take on an emperor. 

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff (1954)

Instead of dropping you headfirst into a vast, action-packed past world, this classic read will allow you to unpick and explore a specific moment in history. Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth has paved the way for much of the modern historical fiction gracing this list and has comfortably stood the test of time over the decades. Set in Roman Britain (around the year 117 AD), this story follows young Roman officer Marcus Aquila as he looks for the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of the Ninth Legion. They marched north to suppress a rebellion of the Caledonian tribes and were never seen again. Get ready to dig deep and discover the secrets of the past. 

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

The Capricorn Bracelet by Rosemary Sutcliff (1973)

Young budding historians will follow the fortunes – and misfortunes – of a family over 300 hundred years in this classic read. From the fall of Londinium and the building of Hadrian's Wall to the final departure of the Romans from Britain. All soldiers are connected by the Capricorn bracelet. It was first worn by the centurion Lucius for distinguished conduct and has then been handed down through the generations. This is a history lesson like no other.

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

TimeRiders: Gates of Rome (Book 5) by Alex Scarrow (2012)

History meets high-flying action in the fifth book from the TimeRiders saga. Our TimeRiders Liam, Maddy, and Sal have one purpose: to prevent time travel from destroying history. Because when you mess with the past, you mess with the future. BIG TIME. In TimeRiders: Gates of Rome our time trio find themselves trapped in ancient Rome, during the reign of Caligula. But this has left their HQ unmanned and under threat. Will our TimeRiders find a way to make it back to the present day and put history right?

Recommended reading age: 11-16 years old 


The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain (1881)

Tom Canty and Edward Tudor are two peas in a pod; they share the same birthday and look exactly alike. That’s where their similarities end. You see, these two peas are from completely different pods. One is a prince – who is also heir to King Henry VIII – whereas the other is a pauper. But fate soon intervenes, switching their roles. Edward is thrown out of the palace in rags, whilst Tom is left to live among the royals and play the part of a prince. Read to see if this pair can indeed, walk a mile (or even a step) in each other’s shoes.

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

Cue for Treason by Geoffrey Trease (1940)

In this enticing historical adventure, set in the turbulent time of the Tudors, you’ll meet Peter Brownrigg, who finds himself on the wrong side of the law after escaping the clutches of the evil Sir Philip Morton. After meeting fellow runaway Kit on his way to London, a chance discovery endangers their lives leaving both of them deep in murderous plots, secrets, and treason. A slice of notorious history is given some creative wizardry in this read, with mystery and twists awaiting readers on every page. Who knew history could be this juicy? 

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

The Lady Grace Mysteries: Assassin by Grace Cavendish (2007)

Meet Lady Grace. She’s Queen Elizabeth’s fave Maid of Honour. Because Grace is small and good at sneaking about unseen, the Queen has made her very own secret investigator. We know what you’re thinking – how much secret investigating is really needed inside the walls of a guarded palace? Turns out a lot. Grace’s special skills are put to the test when a potential suitor of hers is found dead with a knife in his back at the Valentine’s Ball! Backstabbers are just the worst. And it’s up to Grace to find the culprit...

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old 

Ancient Egyptians

Meg’s Mummy by Helen Nicoll (2004)

Meg and Mog are off on an adventure to Egypt! As Meg lands her broom on top of a pyramid, she lets go of her cauldron with Mog inside of it. Oops. Meg has to bandage up poor Mog after his fall, but soon enough he’s being mistaken for a cat mummy inside the pyramid. Well, they wanted an adventure! A turbulent look at the mysteries and wonders of Ancient Egypt has been brought to life with colourful illustrations and just a little bit of magic. 

Recommended reading age: 2-5 years old

Secret Agent Mummy by Steve Cole (2014)

This read might just be history's craziest book! Ancient Egypt is painted in a slightly different light thanks to the imagination of author Steve Cole in Secret Agent Mummy. Here’s a little taste of what you’ll find within its pages: a 2,000-year-old Egyptian mummy detective, an army of brainwashed baboons, and a talking cat goddess. This isn’t exactly a historically accurate illustration of ancient Egypt (as far as we know) but real historical facts are scattered throughout this brilliantly bonkers book; fun facts that are almost as gobsmacking as the story you’re reading!

Recommended reading age: 7-9 years old

The Cat Mummy by Jacqueline Wilson & Nick Sharratt (2001)

Okay, not quite a historical fiction book; but this story is so beautiful and brave that it managed to sneak its way onto our list. Jacqueline Wilson’s The Cat Mummy follows young Verity, who is grieving the sudden loss of her cat, Mabel. Verity’s not ready to let go of her best friend, so decides to mummify Mabel and keep her hidden – after all, that seemed to work out for the Ancient Egyptians who she’s been learning about in school. But when Verity’s family – still dealing with another loss in the family – find out what she’s done, they decide it's time they all sat down and had a conversation they should’ve had a long time ago. 

Recommended reading age: 7-9 years old

There’s A Pharaoh In Our Bath! by Jeremy Strong (2009)

Okay, we’re back to bonkers again with the king of comedy, Jeremy Strong. Tony Lightspeed is a bit of a gem. He’s always bringing sick and injured animals back home, so when he pops back one day with an unconscious man wrapped up in stinky bandages, his family doesn't bat an eyelid. But this isn’t just any old, smelly man. Tony and the family soon learn that this man is an Egyptian pharaoh named Sennapod, who has been dead for over 4,000 years! He’s been brought back to life by two ghastly grave robbers and they’re now after him. Now where could the Lightspeeds hide him, we wonder? Warn your sides, will you? Because they’re about to split. 

Recommended reading age: 7-9 years old

The Story of the Amulet by E. Nesbit (1906)

The Story of the Amulet was penned by extraordinary children’s author E. Nesbit back in 1906, and well over 100 years later, this epic adventure lives on. In the finale to her trilogy that also includes Five Children and It and The Phoenix and the Carpet, our junior adventurers use a newly-discovered amulet from Ancient Egypt to embark on a time-travelling road trip adventure; a rip-roaring ride through, not just the past, but the future, too. Join these junior time travellers as they explore Ancient Egypt, Babylon, and the lost continent of Atlantis – with a few other notable stops along the way. 

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

Tales of Ancient Egypt by Roger Lancelyn Green (1967)

This enchanting collection features simplified retellings of great myths and legends, such as Amun-Ra, who created the universe and all of the creatures in it; the tale of Isis who searched the waters for her dead husband Osiris; and of the sacred Book of Thoth. There are also lesser-known stories for young historians to get lost in; including the first-ever Cinderella story. Bet you didn’t know that the world’s most famous fairy tale actually dates back thousands and thousands of years to the time of the ancient Egyptians, did you? 

Recommended reading age: 10 years old+

The Red Pyramid: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan & Orpheus Collar (2013)

It’s safe to say that this is no ordinary history book. It’s an epic, visual, heart-stopping adventure through time. The magic of Rick Riordan's bestselling novel The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles Book 1) explodes off the page in this beautiful graphic retelling of the story that follows Carter and Sadie Kane as they set off to save their dad from the god of chaos Set. If you haven’t picked up the original before, you’ll be sold from the first sentence: ‘I guess it started the night our dad blew up the British Museum.’

Recommended reading age: 9-16 years old

Brooklyn House Magician’s Manual by Rick Riordan (2018)

We’re rounding off our list with another treat of a read from Rick Riordan. However, this one is slightly different. This isn’t a story as such – it’s a training manual; direct from Brooklyn House. It’s packed full of quizzes, stories, and top-secret information on the Ancient Egyptian deities, which are for your eyes only. It’s time to take your first step down the path of the gods. But heed our warning: Egyptian magic is not to be played with. Because anything can happen in this ancient world.

Recommended reading age: 9-16 years old

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