Menu

Tanakh/Early Ancient

This time period covers the beginning of recorded history through approximately 350 BCE (about year 3,410 on the Jewish calendar).

This page provides an overview of the curriculum for this time period. See Ani Ve-Ami Curriculum Guide: Tanach for a detailed breakdown into monthly and weekly units, along with copy work, maps, literature, music, and art.

 

Torah Studies

Original Texts

Retellings & Midrashim

The full text of the Tanakh, in Hebrew, is available at Sefaria.org. Some of the books on Sefaria are accompanied by English translation.


Not sure whether to use original texts or midrashic retellings? See this blog post.

 

Elementary/Middle Grades

The Artscroll Children’s Book of Ruth

Artscroll Childrens Megillah

The Artscroll Children’s Book of Yonah

The Artscroll Children’s Tehillim

High School/College Level

The Living Torah : The Five Books of Moses and the Haftarot – A New Translation Based on Traditional Jewish Sources, with notes, introduction, maps, … & index (English and Hebrew Edition)

The Living Nach: Vol. 1- Early Prophets

The Living Nach: The Later Prophets

The Living Nach: Vol. 3- Sacred Writings

Elementary/Middle Grades

The Little Midrash Says: A Digest of the Weekly Torah-portion Based on Rashi, Rishonim, and Midrashim, New Midrashim and Stories (Five Vol. Set)

The Little Midrash Says: A Digest of the Book of Yehoshua Based Upon Rashi, Rishonim, and Midrashim, New Midrashim and Stories Adapted for Junior Readers and to Read Aloud

The Little Midrash Says – The Book Of Shoftim/Judges (The Family Midrash Says, 2)

The Family Midrash Says: The Book of Shmuel 1 (The Family Midrash Says, 3)

The Family Midrash Says: The Book of Shmuel 2 (The Family Midrash Says, 4)

The Family Midrash Says: The Book of Melachim/Kings 1 (The Family Midrash Says, 5)

The Family Midrash Says Melachim / Kings Volume 2

The Family Midrash Says The Book of Daniel by Rabbi Moshe Weissman

Middle School/High School

Let My World Survive  by Rabbi Yosef Deutsch

Let My Nation Descend: The Story of the Sale of Yosef, His Ascendancy to Power, and Bnei Yisrael’s Descent into Mitzrayim by Rabbi Yosef Deutsch

Let My Nation Go  by Rabbi Yosef Deutsch

Let My Nation Serve Me  by Rabbi Yosef Deutsch

Let My Nation Wander by Rabbi Yosef Deutsch

Let My Nation Ascend: The Story of the Jewish People’ Ascent to Eretz Yisrael  by Rabbi Yosef Deutsch

Let Me Join Your Nation: The Story of Ruth, from Moabite Princess to Matriarch of the Davidic Dynasty by Rabbi Yosef Deutsch

Let My Nation Be Warned by Rabbi Yosef Deutsch

Let My Nation Live: The Story of the Jewish Deliverance in the Days of Mordechai And Esther by Rabbi Yosef Deutsch

High School/College Level

People of the Book: From Adam to Yehoshua by Osher Chaim Levene

The Navi Journey Sefer Yehoshua  by Rabbi Ilan Ginian

The Navi Journey: Shoftim by Rabbi Ilan Ginian

The Navi Journey, Shmuel 1 by Rabbi Ilan Ginian

Navi Journey, Shmuel 2 by Rabbi Ilan Ginian

The Navi Journey, Megillas Rus  by Rabbi Ilan Ginian

The Navi Journey, Sefer Yonah  by Rabbi Ilan Ginian

History

Jewish

Secular

Understanding Jewish History by Sol Scharfstein

Brief Biblical History (online book) by Isaac Jacobs

Judges, Prophets, and Kings (online book) by Isaac Jacobs

 

Note: It was imperative to choose history selections that represented both the West and the East as Jewish history is very much tied to both. Susan Wise Bauer was the only narrative author of history that we felt met this criteria and also represented a secular view of history. These history books contain some mythology. Depending on the ages of your children, you might decide to skip those parts. Please see the note in the Mythology section.

Elementary/Middle Grades

The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor, Revised Edition by Susan Wise Bauer

The Story of the World, Activity Book 1: Ancient Times – From the Earliest Nomad to the Last Roman Emperor by Susan Wise Bauer

High School/College

The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome by Susan Wise Bauer

Study and Teaching Guide: The History of the Ancient World by Julia Kaziewicz

Literature

Jewish

Secular

Elementary

My Last Year in Mitzrayim: A Jewish Boy’s Ancient Diary  by Chaim Greenbaum

Shpeter I: A Latecomer in Early History, S/C by Meir Uri Gottesman

Shpeter II: From the Depths to the Heights, S/C by Meir Uri Gottesman

The Desert Diary by Gadi Pollack

Dovid Hamelech by Nachman Seltzer

The Money in the Honey: A Midrash About Young David, Future King of Israel by Aidel Backman

The Miracles of Elisha by Sterna Citron

The Secret Tunnel by Joy Nelkin Wieder

Middle Grades Level

Dual Discovery ; a Historical Drama by Zecharia Hoffman

The Lamp of Darkness: The Age of Prophecy Book 1  by Dave Mason and Mike Feuer

High School/College Level

The Young Moses: Prince of Egypt  by Asher Lehmann

The Gilded Cage: Queen Esther’s untold story  by Sorale Brownstein

Purim and the Persian Empire (English and Hebrew Edition) by Rabbi Yehuda Landy

The Decree; A Historical Novel Set During the Persian Rule  by Rebbetzin Sarah Feldbrand

Note: if your child is young and just beginning formal homeschooling, we recommend skipping secular literature for this time period and focusing on the Tanakh. Children under age seven do not yet have a sense of chronology, and they won’t make the connection between this time period and the next one. As this curriculum is meant to cycle through the time periods, your child will learn about ancient history on the next iteration of the cycle.

Elementary

Croco’Nile by Ron Gerrard

Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs (Rise and Shine) by James Rumford

Who Was King Tut? by Roberta Edwards

Boy of the Pyramids: A Mystery of Ancient Egypt by Ruth Fosdick Jones (note: this novel normalizes slavery, but we decided to include it, since slavery was considered normal in that time period)

Aesop for Children

What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras? by Julie Ellis

Pythagoras and the Ratios: A Math Adventure by Julie Ellis

King Midas and the Golden Touch by Charlotte Craft

Herodotus and the Road to History by Jeanne Bendick

Theras: The Story of an Athenian Boy by Caroline Dale Snedeker (note: the characters sacrifice to their gods, but the author points out that we no longer believe in them)

The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War by Emily Little

The Empress and the Silkworm by Lily Toy Hong

Middle Grades Level

The Riddle of the Rosetta Stone by James Cross Giblin

Pyramid by David Macaulay

National Geographic Investigates: Ancient Egypt: Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets of Egypt’s Past

The Curse of the Pharaohs : My Adventures with Mummies by Zahi Hawass

The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw (note: the characters in this novel are firm believers in Egyptian mythology and often mention their gods, but the book does not give them any credibility and mythology is not a major part of the plot)

National Geographic Investigates: Ancient Greece: Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets of Ancient Greece by Marni McGee

The Hero Schliemann: The Dreamer Who Dug for Troy by Laura Amy Schlitz

National Geographic Investigates: Ancient China: Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets of China’s Past

National Geographic Investigates: Ancient India: Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets of India’s Past by Anita Dalai

Warrior Scarlet by Rosemary Sutcliff (note: beautifully written novel set in Bronze Age; contains elements of mythology)

National Geographic Investigates: Ancient Celts: Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets of the Celts’ Past by Jen Green (note: mentions human sacrifice; preview for sensitive children)

The Golden Bull: A Mesopotamian Adventure by Marjorie Cowley

(Note: if your middle grade child would like more reading material on Ancient Greece, you can use Herodotus and the Road to History and Theras: The Story of an Athenian Boy, listed in the elementary level above.)

High School/College Level

Six Great Dialogues: Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Phaedrus, Symposium, The Republic (Dover Thrift Editions) by Plato

National Geographic The Greeks: An Illustrated History by Diane Harris Cline

Mythology

Note: The only surviving non-Jewish literature from this time period is mythology, or “other people’s religion,” according to Joseph Campbell. While some of these religions are no longer practiced, some still are. However, all ancient mythology has also played a significant role in the development of modern world culture, and a basic understanding of mythology is necessary for a college-prep education. Given all of this, it is important to consider when and how you choose to expose your children to stories that feature deities as characters interacting with human beings. Many families may wish to wait until they feel like their children have a solid foundation in their own religion (approximately age 15).

Picture Books

The Storyteller by Evan Turk

The Gilgamesh Trilogy: Gilgamesh the King; The Revenge of Ishtar; The Last Quest of Gilgamesh (3 Volume Set) by Ludmila Zeman

Egyptian Myths by Jacqueline Morley

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths

The Pot of Wisdom: Ananse stories

The Tortoise and the Geese and Other Fables of Bidpai (Yesterday’s Classics)

Chapter Books

Gilgamesh the Hero by Geraldine McCaughrean

Tales of Ancient Egypt by Roger Green

Tales of the Greek Heroes by Roger Green

The Age of Fable by Thomas Bullfinch

Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of ‘The Iliad’ by Rosemary Sutcliff

The Wanderings of Odysseus: The Story of the Odyssey by Rosemary Sutcliff

West African Folk-Tales (Yesterday’s Classics) by W.H. Barker

Ramayana: Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel

Treasury of Chinese Folk Tales: Beloved Myths and Legends from the Middle Kingdom by Shelly Fu

Original Sources

Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others (Oxford World’s Classics) translated by Stephanie Dalley

The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Papyrus of Ani in the British Museum by E.A. Wallis Budge

Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton

The Iliad translated by Robert Fagles

The Odyssey translated by E.V. Rieu

Greek Tragedies 1 edited by Grene & Lattimore

Ramayana by R.K. Narayan

Note: There are no original sources available for African and Chinese Mythology as our knowledge of them is based solely on later recordings of oral tradition; therefore, there are no recommendations of these for this level.

Additional Resources

Jewish

Secular

Fun to read books

Adventure in the City of David by Ahron Horovitz

 

The Elisha Davidson Trilogy by M. R. Attar — Jewish fantasy, which includes visits to King Solomon and the First Temple

Elisha Davidson and the Letters of Fire

Elisha Davidson and the Ispaklaria

Elisha Davidson and the Shamir

Fun to read books

Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Ancient Egypt by Joanna Cole

You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Sumerian Slave!: A Life of Hard Labor You’d Rather Avoid by Fiona McDonald

You Wouldn’t Want to Be an Egyptian Mummy!: Digusting Things You’d Rather Not Know by Fiona McDonald

You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Greek Athlete! by Fiona McDonald

You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Slave in Ancient Greece! by Fiona McDonald

Science in Ancient Greece by Kathlyn Gay

Hot on the Trail in Ancient Egypt (The Time Travel Guides) by Linda Bailey

Adventures in Ancient Greece (Good Times Travel Agency) by Linda Bailey

Mummies in the Morning (Magic Tree House, No. 3) by Mary Pope Osborne

Mummies and Pyramids: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House 3: Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne

Hour of the Olympics by Mary Pope Osborne

Ancient Greece and the Olympics: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker) by Mary Pope Osborne

Videos

Young Abraham

Out of Egypt – The Passover Story

Queen of Persia

The Return of King David’s Harp by the House of Harrari

Videos

Discovery Education offers many videos and images relevant to ancient history.

Khan Academy offers free multimedia self-study courses, including courses on ancient history.

While this list represents the best stories from this time period, please choose books from our Jewish Reading List and our Secular Reading List as your children/family have time.