I am a big fan of living history books that give an overview of people, places and time periods through stories. I never really understood history very well until I began homeschooling and learned about these books. There are several available.
A Child's History of the World - by V.M. Hillyer
A Child's History of the World is one of my favorites for younger children (2nd grade). The chapters are easy to understand and entertaining.
The Story of the World - by Susan Wise Bauer
This series of four books with project idea manuals is very popular. They are easy to get and not very expensive.
The Discover of New Worlds - by MB Synge
The works by MB Synge are currently in the public domain and therefore several of them are available for free on LibriVox and the Baldwin Project. The book linked above is the one we read which covered the Roman Empire to the discovery of the Americas.
MB Synge on the Baldwin Project
MB Synge on LibriVox
Genevieve Foster wrote a series of books about different time periods and the people living in them.
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