Some years ago, an Austin, Texas middle school teacher named Rick Riordan began writing novels based on Greek mythology as a way to inspire his students to read more about mythological gods and goddesses. Riordan also wanted to create a book that featured a main character with ADD, just like one of his own sons.
The result was “The Lightning Thief,” the first in the quintet of books about a boy named Percy Jackson whose mother is human and whose father is the Greek god Poseidon. Set in modern times, “The Lightning Thief” and the four other novels featuring Percy Jackson have become huge best-sellers with kids, who love Riordan’s action-packed stories. Kids also loved idea that the Greek gods are still alive and well and wreaking havoc in our world, and they quickly began looking for more information about Greek mythology so they could learn more about the stories behind the gods.
When Riordan next published a trilogy, “The Kane Chronicles,” based on Egyptian mythology, young readers also became interested in Egyptian gods. In his latest series, “The Heroes of Olympus,” Riordan combines Greek mythology and Roman mythology, setting off a new fascination with Roman gods among his fans.
Riordan’s books have sold millions of copies and his fans are legion. Because of that, we librarians have become adept at answering young readers’ requests for books about mythology. So I was ready when a patron recently asked me for suggestions for her son who wanted to read more about mythology.
The go-to book for young readers looking for a treasury of Greek mythology is “D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths” by Edgar and Ingri D’Aulaire. There are many other good treasuries as well, but this one is the classic volume, and remains quite popular with kids.
Kids interested in the connections between Greek and Roman mythology also will enjoy a newer book, “Gifts From the Gods: Ancient Words & Wisdom From Greek and Roman Mythology” written by Lise Lunge-Larsen and illustrated by Gareth Hinds.
Young readers who want a bit of a different twist on classic mythology will enjoy two series written by Joan Holub: “Goddess Girls” and “Heroes in Training.” In these books, Holub casts the gods and goddesses as characters to whom kids can readily relate. Books in the “Goddess Girls” series include “Athena the Wise,” “Pandora the Curious,” and “Artemis the Loyal;” “Heroes in Training” titles include “Poseidon and the Sea of Fury,” “Hades and the Helm of Darkness” and “Hyperion and the Great Balls of Fire.”