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History can be a tough subject to get kids engaged in. Many wonder why they must learn about people and events from so long ago.
Introducing events and key historical figures through picture books, however, is a very powerful way to long ago events to life. This collection of historical fiction books will help kids see how events from the past helped shape the world they know today.
Historical fiction Books for Kids
You can find these books at your local library or bookstore. If they’re unavailable, you can order them on Amazon by clicking the links provided.
Little House on the Prairie | The nine books in the timeless Little House series tell the story of Laura’s real childhood as an American pioneer, and are cherished by readers of all generations. They offer a unique glimpse into life on the American frontier, and tell the heartwarming, unforgettable story of a loving family.
Rush Revere and the American Revolution | The American Revolution has begun – and Rush Revere, Liberty the horse, and the time-traveling crew are ready to ride into the action!
The Matchlock Gun | In 1756, New York State was still a British colony, and the French and the Indians were constant threats to Edward and his family. When his father was called away to watch for a raid from the north, only Edward was left to protect Mama and little Trudy. His father had shown him how to use the huge matchlock gun, an old Spanish gun that was twice as long as he was, but would Edward be able to handle it if trouble actually came?
Lily’s Crossing | As in past years, Lily will spend the summer in Rockaway, in her family’s summer house by the Atlantic Ocean. But this summer of 1944, World War II has changed everyone’s life. Lily’s best friend, Margaret, has moved to a wartime factory town, and, much worse, Lily’s father is going overseas to the war.
Lewis and Clark and Me | In 1803, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set off on a journey to explore the vast territory of the United States west of the Mississippi River. Accompanying Lewis and Clark and their team of explorers through this uncharted wilderness was Lewis’ dog Seaman. Lewis and Clark and Me is Seaman’s story.
Stone Fox | When Grandfather falls ill, he is no longer able to work the farm, which is in danger of foreclosure. Little Willy is determined to win the National Dogsled Race—the prize money would save the farm and his grandfather. But he isn’t the only one who desperately wants to win. Willy and his brave dog Searchlight must face off against experienced racers, including a Native American man named Stone Fox, who has never lost a race.
Trouble River | As soon as Dewey Martin sees the Indian creeping toward the cabin—and toward his unsuspecting grandmother—he knows what to do: knock him down and take off before the rest of the raiding party arrives. The only means of escape is Dewey’s homemade raft, and lying in its path are rapids, wolves, Indians, and forty miles of uncharted river. Can a boy who’s never manned an oar and an old frontierswoman be the first to make it down Trouble River?
Sarah, Plain and Tall | This is the story of how Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton comes from Maine to the prairie to answer Papa’s advertisement for a wife and mother. Before Sarah arrives, Anna and her younger brother Caleb wait and wonder. Will Sarah be nice? Will she sing? Will she stay?
The Sign of the Beaver | Although he faces responsibility bravely, thirteen-year-old Matt is more than a little apprehensive when his father leaves him alone to guard their new cabin in the wilderness. When a renegade white stranger steals his gun, Matt realizes he has no way to shoot game or to protect himself. When Matt meets Attean, a boy in the Beaver clan, he begins to better understand their way of life and their growing problem in adapting to the white man and the changing frontier.
The Red Badge of Courage | The novel is told through the eyes of Henry Fleming, a young soldier caught up in an unnamed Civil War battle who is motivated not by the unselfish heroism of conventional war stories, but by fear, cowardice, and finally, egotism. However, in his struggle to find reality amid the nightmarish chaos of war, the young soldier also discovers courage, humility, and perhaps, wisdom.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry | Set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, this is the story of one family’s struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice. And it is also Cassie’s story—Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers over the course of an important year why having land of their own is so crucial to the Logan family, even as she learns to draw strength from her own sense of dignity and self-respect.
Bud, Not Buddy | It’s 1936, in Flint, Michigan. Ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but he’s on a mission. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: posters of Herman E. Calloway and his band. Bud’s got an idea that those posters will lead to his father.
The Hundred Dresses | At the heart of the story is Wanda Petronski, a Polish girl in a Connecticut school who is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Maddie, one of Wanda’s classmates, ultimately decides that she is “never going to stand by and say nothing again.”
In Grandma’s Attic | A young girl delights in her grandmother’s stories of days gone by, sparked by keepsakes and simple questions, Grandma shares marvelous stories of mischief , discovery, and laughter, such as the time she accidentally lost the family buggy.
Johnny Tremain | Fourteen-year-old Johnny Tremain, an apprentice silversmith with a bright future ahead of him, injures his hand in a tragic accident, forcing him to look for other work. In his new job as a horse-boy, riding for the patriotic newspaper, The Boston Observer, and as a messenger for the Sons of Liberty, he encounters John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Dr. Joseph Warren. Soon Johnny is involved in the pivotal events shaping the American Revolution from the Boston Tea Party to the first shots fired at Lexington.
My Brother Sam is Dead | All his life, Tim Meeker has looked up to his brother Sam. Sam’s smart and brave — and is now a part of the American Revolution. Not everyone in town wants to be a part of the rebellion. Most are supporters of the British — including Tim and Sam’s father. With the war soon raging, Tim know he’ll have to make a choice — between the Revolutionaries and the Redcoats . . . and between his brother and his father.
Across Five Aprils | The unforgettable story of young Jethro Creighton who comes of age during the turbulent years of the Civil War.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham | Enter the hilarious world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. There’s Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, and brother Byron, who’s thirteen and an “official juvenile delinquent.” When Byron gets to be too much trouble, they head South to Birmingham to visit Grandma, the one person who can shape him up. And they happen to be in Birmingham when Grandma’s church is blown up.
Rifles for Watie | Jefferson Davis Bussey is sixteen when the Civil War breaks out. He can’t wait to leave his Kansas farm and defend the Union against Colonel Watie, the leader of the dreaded Cherokee Indian rebels.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond | Sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler is marked by suspicion and disapproval from the moment she arrives on the unfamiliar shores of colonial Connecticut in 1687. Alone and desperate, she has been forced to leave her beloved home on the island of Barbados and join a family she has never met. Torn between her quest for belonging and her desire to be true to herself, Kit struggles to survive in a hostile place. Just when it seems she must give up, she finds a kindred spirit. But Kit’s friendship with Hannah Tupper, believed by the colonists to be a witch, proves more taboo than she could have imagined and ultimately forces Kit to choose between her heart and her duty.
By the Great Horn Spoon! | When Jack’s aunt is forced to sell her beloved mansion but is still unable to raise enough money to pay her debts, the twelve-year-old goes to California in search of gold to help her. Joined by his trusty butler, Praiseworthy, Jack finds adventure and trouble at every turn. Will Jack strike gold in San Francisco or come home empty-handed?
What are some of your favorite historical fiction books for American History? Leave me a comment and let me know! I’ll add it to my to-read pile.