First it was dinosaurs, then LEGOs, then Star Wars…
But when my son was 9, he went through a mythology stage. He read every mythology book he could get his hands on – fiction and non-fiction. He was so fascinated by it all. One day, I found him sketching out the family tree of the Greek Gods. For fun.
Eventually, his interest died down, but he still loves a good mythology book now and again. And having a basic knowledge of the Greek myths and other world mythology has helped him recognize those myths in so many other books he loves (like Harry Potter).
Here are some of the best we read. And again, I am not a literacy expert – these are just the ages that my son enjoyed these books:
For elementary-aged kids (7-10):
It’s All Greek to Me – Time Warp Trio #8 – by Jon Scieszka – The Time Warp Trio is a chapter book series about a group of time-traveling boys. The books are breezy and fun – with lots of quick comebacks and snappy dialogue. They are great for reluctant readers and boys who like funny books (Our favorite Jon Scieszka book is this one).
Usborne Illustrated Stories from the Greek Myths – by Howard Hughes – This Usborne book (or really any Usborne book) is great for younger readers. Lots of illustrations and a very “family-friendly” retelling of the Greek myths. This book includes the stories of ‘The Wooden Horse’, ‘The Minotaur’ and ‘The Odyssey’, as well as a guide to the Greek Gods.
Greek Mythology: Genius Guides by Ken Jennings – Ken Jennings, the former Jeopardy champion, has written a bunch of non-fiction books for kids on a multitude of topics: Greek mythology, U.S. presidents, outer space, the human body. My son read and enjoyed several of them. Lots of comic-like illustrations and breezy text make them great for kids of all ages.
For Middle Grade (9-12):
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) – by Rick Riordan – After finishing Harry Potter, this fiction series seemed like the next step. I tried reading The Lightning Thief to Jack, but I lost interest after 50 pages, and he thought it was a little scary. He picked it up again a year later, and tore through the whole series – and then started on Riordan’s other books. Just goes to show – sometimes it’s not the book – it’s just not the right time.
Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan – If you want to introduce the Greek myths to a 10-year-old – I would start here. Told in the voice of Percy Jackson – it is a highly-readable, fun, gossipy take on who’s who in the ancients – from Apollo to Zeus.
D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire – This is “the” classic book about Greek Mythology. I read this one to Jack when he was 9. Although I stumbled through the pronunciation of 80% of the Greek gods, Jack LOVED it. The illustrations are great and Jack especially loved the illustration of the family tree in the beginning of the book. But it’s not exactly “easy reading” and may be dry and difficult for kids to get through on their own.
D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths Hardcover by by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire – Another classic d’Aulaire book – but this one focuses on Norse mythology.
Gods and Heroes: Mythology Around the World – by Korwin Briggs – A new addition to our home library, this is an A-to-Z encyclopedia of mythology from around the world (includes stories from many cultures – Egyptian, Japanese, Chinese, Norse, Greek/Roman, Native American and others).
Older Middle Grade (12+):
The Olympians (graphic novel series) – by George O’Connor. Each book in this series of graphic novels focuses on a different Greek god (the first book is about Zeus). They are drawn like Marvel comics – and are a quick and exciting re-telling of the ancient myths. I think the content is more suited to an older reader (lots of scantily-clad women, includes some of the darker parts of the Greek myths).
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman – My son requested this from our local library and we found it shelved in the adult section. I haven’t read it, but Jack brought it everywhere until he finished – school, restaurants, basketball games – so he must have liked it.