World History Reading List with Books on Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Christopher Columbus,the Tudor Kings, Reformation Leaders


We have several books on Da Vinci for you here, with the historical novel, The Second Mrs. Giaconda, as the first choice for the older student. For elementary ages, our favorite is by Diane Stanley, with lots of colorful illustrations.

Good kids books on Christopher Columbus, can be harder and harder to find, so we give you some of our choices here.

The list also give you several titles on individual Reformation leaders. Choose from Erasmus, Martin Luther, William Tyndale, Menno Simons, and the Anabaptists (Mennonites).

Lastly, this time period fits perfectly with the book The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain. This fictional story is loosely based on King Edward VI and English society during his reign. It’s a fun read!

World History Crafts


Leonardo da Vinci by Diane Stanley. Morrow Junior Books, 1996. E-UE+
Brightly colored, full-page illustrations could fool you into thinking this book is just for younger children, but the thorough research on the topic proves otherwise. Gives a complete picture of Da Vinci’s talents, his influence, and his world.

Life of Leonardo Da Vinci. 3-VIDEO set.
Da Vinci’s life dramatized with accuracy and detail. Well done!

The Second Mrs. Giaconda by E.L. Konigsburg. Aladdin Paperbacks, 1975. JH+
Leonardo’s genius in art and beyond is revealed in this story. Its theme explains why he painted the Mona Lisa, an ordinary woman, as opposed to the many members of aristocracy who were vying for his time.


Christopher Columbus (Step into Reading, Step 3) by Stephen Krensky, ill. Norman Green. Random House, 1991. E
Story is limited to Columbus’ first voyage, but includes behind-the-scenes details such as the sailors’ fears, the boring diet on board ship, and the close mutiny.

Christopher Columbus: Great Explorer (First Biography series) by David A. Adler, ill. Lyle Miller. Holiday House, 1991. E-UE
Not forgotten here is that Columbus sailed across the ocean on 4 separate occasions. All the voyages are told in this thorough, easy-to-understand biography and illustrated with black & white line drawings.

Columbus by Ingri & Edgar Parin D’Aulaire. Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1955. E-UE+
This story keeps going where most others end, giving the complete scenario of his life both before & after 1492. Every page is illustrated, some color and some black and white.

A Long and Uncertain Journey: The 27,000 Mile Voyage of Vasco Da Gama (Great Explorers) by Joan Elizabeth Goodman. 2001. E-UE
Informational book. Very thorough & well done. Large, color illustrations.

Michelangelo by Diane Stanley. HarperCollins, 2000. E-UE+
Diane Stanley’s biographies are not to be missed. Historically thorough with full-page, color illustrations.

Pedro’s Journal: A Voyage With Christopher Columbus August 3, 1492-February 14, 1493 by Pam Conrad. Scholastic, 1991. E-UE

Christopher Columbus books

A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus (Picture Book Biography series) by David A. Adler, illus. John & Alexandra Wallner. Holiday House, 1991. E-UE+
Simply told, yet still full of important details and information.

Where Do You Think You’re Going, Christopher Columbus? By Jean Fritz, illus. Margot Tomes. UE-JH

WORLD HISTORY: 1500-1510

Man Who Laid the Egg by Louise Vernon

Tudor Odours (Smelly Old History, Scratch N Sniff Your Way Through the Past) by Mary Dobson, illus. Chris Smedley. Oxford Univ. Press. E-UE
A humorous look at the absence of cleanliness in England’s Tudor society.


King Henry VIII (First Book) by Robert Green. Franklin Watts, 1998. UE-JH+
Easy-to-read, informative, with an excellent explanation for his 6 marriages. Illustrated with period artwork.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther by May McNeer & Lynd Ward. Abingdon Press, 1953. UE+
Reads like a good story book with plenty of illustrations. Tactfully explains Luther’s work to correct the abuses in the Roman Catholic church of that day.

Spy for the Night Riders (Trailblazer Books) by Dave & Neta Jackson. Bethany House Publishers, 1992. E-JH
Travel with Martin Luther to see how his teaching impacted his life and those of countless others.

Thunderstorm in Church by Louise Vernon
(Martin Luther)


Bible Smuggler by Louise Vernon
(William Tyndale)

The Hawk That Dare Not Hunt by Day by Scott O’Dell. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1975. UE+
The story of William Tyndale, who risked his life to translate the Bible for the common man, of those who smuggled his work into England, and of those who hunted him for the prize on his head.

The Pretzel Hero: A Story of Old Vienna by Barbara Rinkoff, illus. Charles Mikolaycak. E-UE
Fun, fictional story based on Austrian legend. When Vienna was attempting to ward off attacking Turks, a baker’s apprentice saved his city by alerting soldiers to the sounds of the enemy tunneling underground.

The Queen’s Smuggler (Trailblazer Books) by Dave & Neta Jackson. Bethany House Publishers, 1991. E-UE+
Christian historical fiction centered around William Tyndale. Mentions Henry VIII and Anne Boylen and their connection to his Bible.


The Betrayer’s Fortune (Trailblazer Books) by Dave & Neta Jackson. Bethany House Publishers, 1994. E-UE+
Christian historical fiction based on Menno Simons, leader of the early Anabaptists or Mennonites, and several of his followers, some of whom gave their lives rather than recant their faith.

On Fire for Christ: Stories of Anabaptist Martyrs by Dave & Neta Jackson
Retelling of selected stories from Martyrs Mirror, written in 1660.

Night Preacher by Louise Vernon.
(Menno Simons)

Secret Church by Louise Vernon.
(Reformation-era Anabaptists or Mennonites)


The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain. JH-HS
A stretch of imagination, this is a classic “what if” adventure. The prince portrayed is Edward VI, who unwillingly experiences the ugly life of the lower classes.

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