Perl doesn't really need much of anything to compile. A Debian system with all the required and important packages (the ones the installer will install be default) plus the build-essential metapackage (which installs the libc headers, make, and some other things you won't need) is enough. That the INSTALL file in the perl source does not say much about the requirements (though it does now say you need a C89 compiler) is because there aren't many.
If all you want to install is the perl core, you don't need libncurses or libreadline, for nothing in the core wants to use these. Certainly nothing like sqlite, gdbm, Tk is needed. (Update: a core module does use libz though if configure detects that you have it, so install the zlib1g-dev package.)
Later you might need some such packages if you want to install modules, for example Bundle::Cpan lets you use a readline prompt in the cpan shell, so you need libreadline for that. (But then, who wants that when you can just run the cpan shell in rlwrap? A program needs to embed readline only if it actually does something with it, such as defines custom tab completion.) In general, modules from CPAN should tell you about any extra requirements in their INSTALL or README files. For example, if you look at the README in the XML-LibXML distribution, it tells you that it needs the libxml2 library. Installing some dependencies can become complicated in a few cases because you have to do so recursively, but luckily you get useful error messages from which you can figure out what's missing.