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1800-1849: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about 1800-1849?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to 1800-1849. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about 1800-1849.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about 1800-1849, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like An Apple for Harriet Tubman to popular sellers like Island of the Blue Dolphins to some of our favorite hidden gems like Her Right Foot.

We hope this list of kids books about 1800-1849 can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

Top 10 Books About 1800-1849

Abe's Honest Words book
#1
Abe's Honest Words
Written by Doreen Rappaport & illustrated by Kadir Nelson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

From the time he was a young boy roaming the forests of the unsettled Midwest, Abraham Lincoln knew in his heart that slavery was deeply wrong. A voracious reader, Lincoln spent every spare moment of his days filling his mind with knowledge, from history to literature to mathematics, preparing himself to one day lead the country he loved toward greater equality and prosperity. Despite the obstacles he faced as a self-educated man from the back woods, Lincoln persevered in his political career, and his compassion and honesty gradually earned him the trust of many Americans. As president, he guided the nation through a long and bitter civil war and penned the document that would lead to the end of slavery in the United States. The passion for humanity that defined Lincoln’s life shines through in this momentous follow-up to Martin’s Big Words and John’s Secret Dreams. Told in Doreen Rappaport’s accessible, absorbing prose, and brought to life in powerful illustrations by Kadir Nelson, Abe’s Honest Words is an epic portrait of a truly great American president.

Elizabeth Leads the Way book
#2
Elizabeth Leads the Way
Written by Tanya Lee Stone & illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Elizabeth Cady Stanton stood up and fought for what she believed in. From an early age, she knew that women were not given rights equal to men. But rather than accept her lesser status, Elizabeth went to college and later gathered other like-minded women to challenge the right to vote. Here is the inspiring story of an extraordinary woman who changed America forever because she wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

Elizabeth Leads the Way is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children’s Book of the Year.

Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen book
#3
Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen
Written by Deborah Hopkinson & illustrated by Qin Leng
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A gorgeous and inspiring picture book biography of Jane Austen, one of the most beloved writers of all time, from award-winning author Deborah Hopkinson. It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of our greatest writers. But before that, she was just an ordinary girl. In fact, young Jane was a bit quiet and shy; if you had met her back then, you might not have noticed her at all. But she would have noticed you. Jane watched and listened to all the things people around her did and said, and locked those observations away for safekeeping. Jane also loved to read. She devoured everything in her father’s massive library and before long, she began creating her own stories. In her time, the most popular books were grand adventures and romances, but Jane wanted to go her own way…and went on to invent an entirely new kind of novel. Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen includes a timeline and quotes from Austen’s most popular novels. Parents and grandparents, as well as teachers and librarians, will enjoy introducing children to Jane Austen through this accessible, beautifully packaged picture book.

The House That Jane Built book
#4
The House That Jane Built
Written by Tanya Lee Stone & illustrated by Kathryn Brown
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

This is the story of Jane Addams, the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, who transformed a poor neighborhood in Chicago by opening up her house as a community center.

This Bridge Will Not Be Gray book
#5
This Bridge Will Not Be Gray
Written by Dave Eggers & illustrated by Tucker Nichols
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

In this delightfully original take on nonfiction, bestselling author Dave Eggers tackles one of the most famous architectural and natural monuments in the world: the Golden Gate Bridge. Cut-paper illustrations by Tucker Nichols ensures that this book feels like a special object, and the revised edition includes real-life letters from constituents making the case for keeping the bridge orange. The narrative’s sly humor makes the topic perfectly accessible for kids enthusiastic about nonfiction. This one-of-a-kind book transports readers to the glorious Golden Gate, no matter where they live.

Lit for Little Hands: Pride and Prejudice book
#6
Lit for Little Hands: Pride and Prejudice
Written by Brooke Jordan and Jane Austen & illustrated by David Miles
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Filled with interactive wheels and pull-tabs and lavishly illustrated, Lit for Little Hands: Pride and Prejudice is an unprecedented kid’s introduction to Jane Austen’s beloved classic novel. Unlike many board books that tackle the classics, Lit for Little Hands tells the actual story in simple, engaging prose. Goregous pastoral illustrations transport the reader to the fields and estates of Lizzy’s England, while tons of interactive elements invite kids to spin the dancers at the ball, care for Jane, open a shocking letter, and more! Austen fans will be delighted by the book’s attention to detail and clever use of original dialog. And the book’s use of super-sturdy board means everyone can enjoy this tale of wit and romance over . . . and over . . . and over again!

Her Right Foot book
#7
Her Right Foot
Written by Dave Eggers & illustrated by Shawn Harris
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

If you had to name a statue, any statue, odds are good you’d mention the Statue of Liberty. Have you seen her? She’s in New York. She’s holding a torch. And she’s taking one step forward. But why? In this fascinating, fun take on nonfiction, uniquely American in its frank tone and honest look at the literal foundation of our country, Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris investigate a seemingly small trait of America’s most emblematic statue. What they find is about more than history, more than art. What they find in the Statue of Liberty’s right foot is the powerful message of acceptance that is essential to an entire country’s creation. Can you believe that?

King of the Tightrope: When the Great Blondin Ruled Niagara book
#8
King of the Tightrope: When the Great Blondin Ruled Niagara
Written by Donna Janell Bowman & illustrated by Adam Gustavson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

In 1859, Jean-Francois Gravelet, known as The Great Blondin, walked across the Niagara River on a tightrope. What kind of man would do something like that? And more importantly, how do you become that man?

At the age of four, Jean-Francois Gravelet walked across his first balance beam. Later, he took to the tightrope like a spider to its web, and with his family troupe, he climbed toward stardom. Though his feats became more and more marvelous, he grew bored. That is, until he visited Niagara Falls and imagined doing something that no one else had ever accomplished. To cross the raging river, The Great Blondin needed an engineering process, determination, and a belief that what he could imagine, he could accomplish. In 1859, with all of the work completed, Blondin would step out onto the most dangerous tightrope walk he’d ever faced.

Author Donna Janell Bowman’s trademark in-depth research gives readers a clear and exciting look into the accomplishments of The Great Blondin, as well as the hard work, determination, and meticulous mathematic and scientific planning it took to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Adam Gustavson’s detailed illustrations turn this book into an experience that will inspire readers of all ages.

Thank You, Sarah book
#9
Thank You, Sarah
Written by Laurie Halse Anderson & illustrated by Matt Faulkner
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Relates how Sarah Hale, a magazine editor and author, persuaded President Lincoln to transform Thanksgiving Day into a national holiday.

Little Red Riding Hood book
#10
Little Red Riding Hood
Written & illustrated by Andrea Wisnewski
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

A version of the classic story about a little girl, her grandmother, and a not-so-clever wolf, set in nineteenth-century rural New England.

Table of Contents
Scroll to books about 1800-1849 and...

Books About 1800-1849 and Girls And Women

Elizabeth Leads the Way
Written by Tanya Lee Stone & illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Elizabeth Cady Stanton stood up and fought for what she believed in. From an early age, she knew that women were not given rights equal to men. But rather than accept her lesser status, Elizabeth went to college and later gathered other like-minded women to challenge the right to vote. Here is the inspiring story of an extraordinary woman who changed America forever because she wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

Elizabeth Leads the Way is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children’s Book of the Year.

The House That Jane Built
Written by Tanya Lee Stone & illustrated by Kathryn Brown
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

This is the story of Jane Addams, the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, who transformed a poor neighborhood in Chicago by opening up her house as a community center.

Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?
Written by Tanya Lee Stone & illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

An introduction to the life and achievements of the first American female doctor describes the limited career prospects available to women in the early nineteenth-century, the opposition Blackwell faced while pursuing a medical education, and her pioneering medical career that opened doors for future generations of women.

Honorable Mentions
  1. I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote - Full of humor and spunk – just like Esther! “I could do that,” says six-year-old Esther as she watches her mother making tea. Start her own business at the age of nineteen? Why, she could do that, too. But one thing Esther and other women could NOT do was vote. Only men could do that. With lively text and humorous illustrations as full of spirit as Esther herself, this striking picture book biography shows how one girl’s gumption propels her through a life filled with challenges until, in 1869, she wins the vote for women in Wyoming Territory – the first time ever in the United States! I Could Do That! is a 2006 Bank Street - Best Children’s Book of the Year.

  2. Elizabeth Started All the Trouble - She couldn’t go to college. She couldn’t become a politician. She couldn’t even vote. But Elizabeth Cady Stanton didn’t let that stop her. She called on women across the nation to stand together and demand to be treated as equal to men-and that included the right to vote. It took nearly seventy-five years and generations of women fighting for their rights through words, through action, and through pure determination . . . for things to slowly begin to change. With the help of these trailblazers’ own words, Doreen Rappaport’s engaging text, brought to life by Matt Faulkner’s vibrant illustrations, shows readers just how far this revolution has come, and inspires them to keep it going! Select praise for Doreen Rappaport: Martin’s Big Words

    • 2002 Caldecott Honor Book
    • 2002 Coretta Scott King Honor Book
    • Child Magazine Best Book of 2001
    • New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children’s Book of 2001
    • “A stunning, reverent tribute.” -School Library Journal, starred review
    Abe’s Honest Words
    • “Exceptional art, along with Rappaport’s and Lincoln’s words, makes this a fine celebration of a man who needs little introduction.” -Booklist, starred review
    Eleanor, Quiet No More
    • “Once again Rappaport celebrates a noble, heroic life in powerful, succinct prose, with prominent, well-chosen, and judiciously placed quotes that both instruct and inspire…Celebrate women in history and in politics with this picture-book life.” -School Library Journal, starred review
    Helen’s Big World
    • “Stirring and awe-inspiring.” -The Horn Book, starred review
    To Dare Mighty Things
    • “[T]his lavish picture-book biography deftly captures the legendary man’s bold, exuberant nature. . . . A truly inspiring tribute to a seemingly larger-than-life U.S. president.” -Kirkus Reviews, starred review
    • “Theodore Roosevelt’s big ideas and big personality come together in this splendid picture-book biography.” -Booklist, starred review
    • “Concisely written and yet poetic, this is a first purchase for every library.” -School Library Journal, starred review

Books About 1800-1849 and 1850-1899

This Bridge Will Not Be Gray
Written by Dave Eggers & illustrated by Tucker Nichols
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

In this delightfully original take on nonfiction, bestselling author Dave Eggers tackles one of the most famous architectural and natural monuments in the world: the Golden Gate Bridge. Cut-paper illustrations by Tucker Nichols ensures that this book feels like a special object, and the revised edition includes real-life letters from constituents making the case for keeping the bridge orange. The narrative’s sly humor makes the topic perfectly accessible for kids enthusiastic about nonfiction. This one-of-a-kind book transports readers to the glorious Golden Gate, no matter where they live.

Her Right Foot
Written by Dave Eggers & illustrated by Shawn Harris
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

If you had to name a statue, any statue, odds are good you’d mention the Statue of Liberty. Have you seen her? She’s in New York. She’s holding a torch. And she’s taking one step forward. But why? In this fascinating, fun take on nonfiction, uniquely American in its frank tone and honest look at the literal foundation of our country, Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris investigate a seemingly small trait of America’s most emblematic statue. What they find is about more than history, more than art. What they find in the Statue of Liberty’s right foot is the powerful message of acceptance that is essential to an entire country’s creation. Can you believe that?

King of the Tightrope: When the Great Blondin Ruled Niagara
Written by Donna Janell Bowman & illustrated by Adam Gustavson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

In 1859, Jean-Francois Gravelet, known as The Great Blondin, walked across the Niagara River on a tightrope. What kind of man would do something like that? And more importantly, how do you become that man?

At the age of four, Jean-Francois Gravelet walked across his first balance beam. Later, he took to the tightrope like a spider to its web, and with his family troupe, he climbed toward stardom. Though his feats became more and more marvelous, he grew bored. That is, until he visited Niagara Falls and imagined doing something that no one else had ever accomplished. To cross the raging river, The Great Blondin needed an engineering process, determination, and a belief that what he could imagine, he could accomplish. In 1859, with all of the work completed, Blondin would step out onto the most dangerous tightrope walk he’d ever faced.

Author Donna Janell Bowman’s trademark in-depth research gives readers a clear and exciting look into the accomplishments of The Great Blondin, as well as the hard work, determination, and meticulous mathematic and scientific planning it took to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Adam Gustavson’s detailed illustrations turn this book into an experience that will inspire readers of all ages.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek - In Knob Creek, Kentucky, in 1816, seven-year-old Abe Lincoln falls into a creek and is rescued by his best friend, Austin Gollaher.

  2. Honey, the Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln - Based on a little-known tale from Abraham Lincoln’s childhood, this charming picture book written by debut author Shari Swanson and illustrated by acclaimed artist Chuck Groenink tells a classic story of a boy, his dog, and a daring rescue. Deeply researched and charmingly told, this is the true story of one extra-special childhood rescue—a dog named Honey. Long before Abraham Lincoln led the nation or signed the Emancipation Proclamation, he was just a barefoot kid running around Knob Creek, Kentucky, setting animals free from traps and snatching frogs out of the jaws of snakes. One day, young Abe found a stray dog with a broken leg and named him Honey. He had no idea that the scruffy pup would find his way into Abe’s heart, become his best friend, and—one fateful day—save his life.

  3. Abraham Lincoln Comes Home - When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, the country grieved for the courageous president who had guided them through the Civil War. Over the course of thirteen somber days, people paid homage as Lincoln’s funeral train made its way from Washington, D.C., to Springfield, Illinois. In moving prose and stunning paintings, a young boy experiences the deep feelings evoked by the assassination and death of a major historical figure, during a time of great change in the country.

  4. In the New World - The story of Robert and Margarete and their children Johannes and Dorothea, who emigrate from Germany to the United States in 1850. After landing in New Orleans and joining a wagon train headed west to Nebraska, the family establishes a farm outside Omaha. The book ends with a switch to modern day with descendants of Robert and Margarete living on the same farm. They make the decision to investigate their roots and visit Germany, reversing the trip their ancestors made.

Books About 1800-1849 and Slavery

Abe's Honest Words
Written by Doreen Rappaport & illustrated by Kadir Nelson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

From the time he was a young boy roaming the forests of the unsettled Midwest, Abraham Lincoln knew in his heart that slavery was deeply wrong. A voracious reader, Lincoln spent every spare moment of his days filling his mind with knowledge, from history to literature to mathematics, preparing himself to one day lead the country he loved toward greater equality and prosperity. Despite the obstacles he faced as a self-educated man from the back woods, Lincoln persevered in his political career, and his compassion and honesty gradually earned him the trust of many Americans. As president, he guided the nation through a long and bitter civil war and penned the document that would lead to the end of slavery in the United States. The passion for humanity that defined Lincoln’s life shines through in this momentous follow-up to Martin’s Big Words and John’s Secret Dreams. Told in Doreen Rappaport’s accessible, absorbing prose, and brought to life in powerful illustrations by Kadir Nelson, Abe’s Honest Words is an epic portrait of a truly great American president.

So Tall Within
Written by Gary D. Schmidt & illustrated by Daniel Minter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From celebrated author Gary D. Schmidt comes a picture book biography of a giant in the struggle for civil rights, perfectly pitched for readers today. Sojourner Truth was born into slavery but possessed a mind and a vision that knew no bounds. So Tall Within traces her life from her painful childhood through her remarkable emancipation to her incredible leadership in the movement for rights for both women and African Americans. Her story is told with lyricism and pathos by Gary D. Schmidt, one of the most celebrated writers for children in the twenty-first century, and brought to life by award winning and fine artist Daniel Minter. This combination of talent is just right for introducing this legendary figure to a new generation of children.

An Apple for Harriet Tubman
Written by Glennette Tilley Turner & illustrated by Susan Keeter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Biography of a little slave girl whipped for eating an apple, who later grew up to become a famous “conductor” for the underground railroad.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Who Was Harriet Tubman? - Born a slave in Maryland, Harriet Tubman knew first-hand what it meant to be someone’s property; she was whipped by owners and almost killed by an overseer. It was from other field hands that she first heard about the Underground Railroad which she travelled by herself north to Philadelphia. Throughout her long life (she died at the age of ninety-two) and long after the Civil War brought an end to slavery, this amazing woman was proof of what just one person can do.

  2. Priscilla and the Hollyhocks - Priscilla is only four years old when her mother is sold to another master. All Priscilla has to remember her mother by are the hollyhocks she planted by the cow pond. At age ten, Priscilla is sold to a Cherokee family and continues her life as a slave. She keeps hope for a better life alive by planting hollyhocks wherever she goes. At last, her forced march along the Trail of Tears brings a chance encounter that leads to her freedom. Includes an author’s note with more details about this fascinating true story as well as instructions for making hollyhock dolls.

  3. Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter - Learn about the inspiring life of Harriet Tubman in this early reader biography. Harriet Tubman was a brave woman who was born enslaved in Maryland in the 1800s. After risking everything to escape from her slave master and be free, Harriet went on to lead many people to freedom on a journey known today as the Underground Railroad. This book covers some of the amazing aspects of Tubman’s life: She led 13 escapes—all successful and at great personal risk—between 1850 and 1860. This book also covers some of the lesser-known amazing aspects of her life: During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman enlisted African American men to be soldiers. She served as a spy. AND she led a battle under the command of a Union Army colonel! Beginning readers will learn about the milestones in Harriet Tubman’s life in this Level Two I Can Read biography. This biography includes a timeline and historical illustrations all about the life of this inspiring figure, as well as a rare historical photograph of her. Much mythology and conflicting lore exists about Harriet Tubman. This book was carefully vetted by noted Harriet Tubman expert Dr. Kate Larson. Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter is a Level Two I Can Read, geared for kids who read on their own but still need a little help.

  4. Never Caught, The Story Of Ona Judge - A National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction, Never Caught is the eye-opening narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington’s runaway slave, who risked everything for a better life—now available as a young reader’s edition! In this incredible narrative, Erica Armstrong Dunbar reveals a fascinating and heartbreaking behind-the-scenes look at the Washingtons’ when they were the First Family—and an in-depth look at their slave, Ona Judge, who dared to escape from one of the nation’s Founding Fathers. Born into a life of slavery, Ona Judge eventually grew up to be George and Martha Washington’s “favored” dower slave. When she was told that she was going to be given as a wedding gift to Martha Washington’s granddaughter, Ona made the bold and brave decision to flee to the north, where she would be a fugitive. From her childhood, to her time with the Washingtons and living in the slave quarters, to her escape to New Hampshire, Erica Armstrong Dunbar (along with Kathleen Van Cleve), shares an intimate glimpse into the life of a little-known, but powerful figure in history, and her brave journey as she fled the most powerful couple in the country.

Want to see books about slavery?

Books About 1800-1849 and 18th Century

Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen
Written by Deborah Hopkinson & illustrated by Qin Leng
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A gorgeous and inspiring picture book biography of Jane Austen, one of the most beloved writers of all time, from award-winning author Deborah Hopkinson. It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of our greatest writers. But before that, she was just an ordinary girl. In fact, young Jane was a bit quiet and shy; if you had met her back then, you might not have noticed her at all. But she would have noticed you. Jane watched and listened to all the things people around her did and said, and locked those observations away for safekeeping. Jane also loved to read. She devoured everything in her father’s massive library and before long, she began creating her own stories. In her time, the most popular books were grand adventures and romances, but Jane wanted to go her own way…and went on to invent an entirely new kind of novel. Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen includes a timeline and quotes from Austen’s most popular novels. Parents and grandparents, as well as teachers and librarians, will enjoy introducing children to Jane Austen through this accessible, beautifully packaged picture book.

A Picture Book of Alexander Hamilton
Written by David A. Adler & illustrated by Matt Collins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

How the extraordinary patriot made soaring accomplishments but then met his devastating end, the life of Alexander Hamilton for picture book readers. From his youth in the Caribbean to his immigration to New York City, this picture book covers the highlights of Alexander Hamilton’s legacy, including his part in the American revolution, his influence on the monetary system we still use today, and his tragic death. Matt Collin’s hyperrealistic art style will transport readers right alongside Hamilton, while David A. Adler deftly chronicles pivotal moments in the Founding Father’s short but hugely influential life. A time line is included.

Little People, Big Dreams: Jane Austen
Written & illustrated by Isabel Sanchez Vegara
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

New in the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the remarkable life of Jane Austen, the British novelist, in this true story of her life. Little Jane grew up in a big family that loved learning and she often read from her father’s library. In her teenage years she began to write in bound notebooks and craft her own novels. As an adult, Jane secretly created stories that shone a light on the British upper classes and provided a witty social commentary of the time, creating a new dialogue for female characters in books. With stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, this empowering series celebrates the important life stories of wonderful women of the world. From designers and artists to scientists, all of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. These books make the lives of these role models accessible for children, providing a powerful message to inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world!

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Queen and the First Christmas Tree - Queen Charlotte brought her family’s festive holiday yule bough from Germany to England. While planning a Christmas Day party in 1800 at Windsor Castle for over 100 children, she realized a single bough isn’t enough. So she brought in the whole tree instead, making it the first known Christmas Tree in England. This story tells a little known fact about a favorite holiday tradition.

  2. Brave Jane Austen - This picture book biography of the groundbreaking female novelist Jane Austen, recognized as one of the most important and influential writers of all time, is ideal for Women’s History Month. Full color.

  3. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch - Readers today are still fascinated by “Nat,” an eighteenth-century nautical wonder and mathematical wizard. Nathaniel Bowditch grew up in a sailor’s world—Salem in the early days, when tall-masted ships from foreign ports crowded the wharves. But Nat didn’t promise to have the makings of a sailor; he was too physically small. Nat may have been slight of build, but no one guessed that he had the persistence and determination to master sea navigation in the days when men sailed only by “log, lead, and lookout.” Nat’s long hours of study and observation, collected in his famous work, The American Practical Navigator (also known as the “Sailors’ Bible”), stunned the sailing community and made him a New England hero.

  4. Thomas Jefferson - Renowned artist Maira Kalman sheds light on the fascinating life and interests of the Renaissance man who was our third president. Thomas Jefferson is perhaps best known for writing the Declaration of Independence—but there’s so much more to discover. This energetic man was interested in everything. He played violin, spoke seven languages and was a scientist, naturalist, botanist, mathematician and architect. He designed his magnificent home, Monticello, which is full of objects he collected from around the world. Our first foodie, he grew over fifteen kinds of peas and advocated a mostly vegetarian diet. And oh yes, as our third president, he doubled the size of the United States and sent Lewis and Clark to explore it. He also started the Library of Congress and said, “I cannot live without books.” But monumental figures can have monumental flaws, and Jefferson was no exception. Although he called slavery an “abomination,” he owned about 150 slaves. As she did in Looking at Lincoln, Maira Kalman shares a president’s remarkable, complicated life with young readers, making history come alive with her captivating text and stunning illustrations.

Books About 1800-1849 and Culture

Lit for Little Hands: Pride and Prejudice
Written by Brooke Jordan and Jane Austen & illustrated by David Miles
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Filled with interactive wheels and pull-tabs and lavishly illustrated, Lit for Little Hands: Pride and Prejudice is an unprecedented kid’s introduction to Jane Austen’s beloved classic novel. Unlike many board books that tackle the classics, Lit for Little Hands tells the actual story in simple, engaging prose. Goregous pastoral illustrations transport the reader to the fields and estates of Lizzy’s England, while tons of interactive elements invite kids to spin the dancers at the ball, care for Jane, open a shocking letter, and more! Austen fans will be delighted by the book’s attention to detail and clever use of original dialog. And the book’s use of super-sturdy board means everyone can enjoy this tale of wit and romance over . . . and over . . . and over again!

Island of the Blue Dolphins
Written & illustrated by Scott O'Dell
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Far off the coast of California looms a harsh rock known as the island of San Nicholas. Dolphins flash in the blue waters around it, sea otter play in the vast kep beds, and sea elephants loll on the stony beaches.

Here, in the early 1800s, according to history, an Indian girl spent eighteen years alone, and this beautifully written novel is her story. It is a romantic adventure filled with drama and heartache, for not only was mere subsistence on so desolate a spot a near miracle, but Karana had to contend with the ferocious pack of wild dogs that had killed her younger brother, constantly guard against the Aleutian sea otter hunters, and maintain a precarious food supply.

More than this, it is an adventure of the spirit that will haunt the reader long after the book has been put down. Karana’s quiet courage, her Indian self-reliance and acceptance of fate, transform what to many would have been a devastating ordeal into an uplifting experience. From loneliness and terror come strength and serenity in this Newbery Medal-winning classic.

Major Impossible (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #9)
Written by Nathan Hale
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The ninth book in the bestselling series tells the story of John Wesley Powell, the one-armed geologist who explored the Grand Canyon John Wesley Powell (1834-1902) always had the spirit of adventure in him. As a young man, he traveled all over the United States exploring. When the Civil War began, Powell went to fight for the Union, and even after he lost most of his right arm, he continued to fight until the war was over. In 1869 he embarked with the Colorado River Exploring Expedition, ten men in four boats, to float through Grand Canyon. Over the course of three months, the explorers lost their boats and supplies, nearly drowned, and were in peril on multiple occasions. Ten explorers went in, only six came out. Powell would come to be known as one of the most epic explorers in history! Equal parts gruesome and hilarious, this latest installment in the bestselling series takes readers on an action-packed adventure through American history.

Honorable Mentions
  1. V Is for Vittles: A Wild West Alphabet - From the creators of BabyLit®: V Is for Vittles: A Wild West Primeris part of a unique new series that opens a window on history while teaching toddlers the ABCs. Different eras of history—including the nineteenth-century American West, medieval Europe, and Victorian England—are brought to life by Greg Paprocki’s fun and enticing illustrations in this new series of board books for brilliant babies.

  2. Great Expectations: A Babylit Storybook - In Great Expectations: A BabyLit Storybook, preschoolers follow Pip’s story, learning about the value of family and friends, fortune and loss, and love. Easy-to-follow, engaging text combined with original quotes and beautiful artwork create a book to be treasured through childhood and beyond. BabyLit(R) primers have become the chic, smart way to introduce babies to the most beloved and readable literature of our time. Gibbs Smith is now presenting a delightful collection of picture books, lovingly designed and crafted for young children. Each book retells a story from the literary canon, bringing a classic to life for an entirely new audience. Stephanie Clarkson began her writing career as a journalist at Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper and continues to write for the British press while dreaming up stories for children. Steph has written everything from pocket money books to gift titles and is the author of Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-ups. She lives in Surrey, England. Mike Byrne lives in the Surrey countryside with his wife, cat, and two young sons where he spends his days doodling and illustrating children’s books fuelled only by tea and biscuits. Mike is the illustrator of Sproutzilla vs. Christmas and My Colourful Chameleon.

  3. Pride and Prejudice: A BabyLit Storybook - BabyLit Storybooks are a great way to introduce young readers to the classics, with easy to read storylines and bright illustrations. They are part of the bestselling BabyLit series, which provides a literary education for your brilliant children. In Pride & Prejudice, children are invited into the Regency period to meet the Bennet sisters, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley, and other beloved characters from Jane Austen’s classic tale. Elegant balls, surprise proposals, and a visit to Pemberley are just a few events to look forward to in this story about appearances, misunderstandings, and love. Quotes from the original text are woven throughout this retelling, and the imaginative artwork will engage readers of all ages. This is a book to be treasured throughout childhood and beyond. BabyLit® primers have become the chic, smart way to introduce babies to the most beloved and readable literature of our time. Now presenting a delightful collection of hardcover lap books for early readers and their parents. Each book in the BabyLit Storybook series retells a story from literary canon with easy-to-follow text and engaging artwork. These delightful, engaging books are ideal for ages 3 to 7, with their oversized trim and sturdy pages, but will be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

  4. On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894 - A detailed diary from the author of the beloved Little House series, chronicling her journey with her family from South Dakota to Missouri. In 1894, Laura Ingalls Wilder, her husband, Almanzo, and their daughter, Rose, packed their belongings into their covered wagon and set out on a journey from De Smet, South Dakota, to Mansfield, Missouri. They heard that the soil there was rich and the crops were bountiful—it was even called “the Land of the Big Red Apple.” With hopes of beginning a new life, the Wilders made their way to the Ozarks of Missouri. During their journey, Laura kept a detailed diary of events: the cities they passed through, the travelers they encountered on the way, the changing countryside and the trials of an often difficult voyage. Laura’s words, preserved in this book, are a fascinating account of life and travel at the turn of the twentieth century, and reveal Laura’s inner thoughts as she traveled with her family in search of a new home in Mansfield, where Laura would write her Little House books.

Books About 1800-1849 and History

Thank You, Sarah
Written by Laurie Halse Anderson & illustrated by Matt Faulkner
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Relates how Sarah Hale, a magazine editor and author, persuaded President Lincoln to transform Thanksgiving Day into a national holiday.

Alamo All-Stars
Written & illustrated by Nathan Hale
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

“”Remember the Alamo!” That rallying cry has been a part of Texas lore for generations. But who were the ragtag group of adventurers behind the famous slogan, and how did they end up barricaded in a fort against a Mexican army? Who survived, who died, and how? This sixth book in the bestselling Hazardous Tales series tracks the Lone Star State’s bloody fight for independence from the Mexican government. It features the exploits of the notorious Jim Bowie, as well as Stephen Austin, Davy Crockett, and other settlers and soldiers who made the wild frontier of Texas their home—all told with the inimitable style and humor for which Nathan Hale is known”—

Locomotive
Written & illustrated by Brian Floca
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-10

All aboard! From the creator of the “stunning” (Booklist) Moonshot, a rich and detailed sensory exploration of America’s early railroads. It is the summer of 1869, and trains, crews, and family are traveling together, riding America’s brand-new transcontinental railroad. These pages come alive with the details of the trip and the sounds, speed, and strength of the mighty locomotives; the work that keeps them moving; and the thrill of travel from plains to mountain to ocean. Come hear the hiss of the steam, feel the heat of the engine, watch the landscape race by. Come ride the rails, come cross the young country!

Honorable Mentions
  1. Samuel Morse, That's Who! - Back in the 1800s, information traveled slowly. Who would dream of instant messages? Samuel Morse, that’s who! Who traveled to France, where the famous telegraph towers relayed 10,000 possible codes for messages depending on the signal arm positions—only if the weather was clear? Who imagined a system that would use electric pulses to instantly carry coded messages between two machines, rain or shine? Long before the first telephone, who changed communication forever? Samuel Morse, that’s who! This dynamic and subtsantive biography celebrates an early technology pioneer. Perfect for fans of Gene Barretta’s popular inventor series.

  2. A Green Place to Be: the Creation of Central Park - How did Central Park become a vibrant gem in the heart of New York City? Follow the visionaries behind the plan as it springs to green life. In 1858, New York City was growing so fast that new roads and tall buildings threatened to swallow up the remaining open space. The people needed a green place to be — a park with ponds to row on and paths for wandering through trees and over bridges. When a citywide contest solicited plans for creating a park out of barren swampland, Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted put their heads together to create the winning design, and the hard work of making their plans a reality began. By winter, the lake opened for skating. By the next summer, the waterside woodland known as the Ramble opened for all to enjoy. Meanwhile, sculptors, stone masons, and master gardeners joined in to construct thirty-four unique bridges, along with fountains, pagodas, and band shells, making New York’s Central Park a green gift to everyone. Included in the end matter are bios of Vaux and Olmsted, a bibliography, and engaging factual snippets.

  3. Rescuing the Declaration of Independence: How We Almost Lost the Words That Built America - He saved the words that built America! Emmy Award–winning journalist Anna Crowley Redding and Sibert Honor illustrator Edwin Fotheringham bring to life the riveting true story about the lowly clerk who saved the Declaration of Independence from being destroyed by the British army in the War of 1812. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These are the words that helped found our nation. Today the Declaration of Independence is one of the United States’ most heavily guarded treasures, but during the War of 1812 it would have been destroyed if not for one man whose story has nearly been forgotten by time. Come along on this historic adventure and learn how one ordinary clerk did a truly extraordinary thing. As a clerk for the State Department, Stephen Pleasonton spent his days quietly immersed in paperwork. He never expected to receive an urgent message telling him that the British army was on its way to the capital. And that the documents that Stephen was entrusted with—such as the original Declaration of Independence and the original Constitution—were all in danger! It fell on Stephen to get our nation’s most cherished and priceless artifacts safely out of Washington!

  4. Silent Night - A warm and wonderful story of the creation of the timeless hymn, Silent Night, and its creator Joseph Mohr. Silent Night celebrates the 200th anniversary of the beloved hymn, and shares the story behind the creation of one of the world’s most recognizable tunes.

Books About 1800-1849 and Historical Figures

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
Written by Vashti Harrison
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

A NEW YORK TIMES INSTANT BESTSELLER!A USA TODAY BESTSELLER! This beautifully illustrated book introduces readers of all ages to 40 women who changed the world. Featuring forty trailblazing black women in American history, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of breaking boundaries and achieving beyond expectations. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash. Among these biographies, readers will find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things - bold women whose actions and beliefs contributed to making the world better for generations of girls and women to come. Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled in these pages were all taking a stand against a world that didn’t always accept them. The leaders in this book may be little, but they all did something big and amazing, inspiring generations to come.

Our Flag Was Still There
Written & illustrated by Jessie Hartland
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“So much to like about this, including the folk art–style artwork with childlike appeal, the emphasis on the women who constructed the flag, and the important ways a symbol can influence a country for generations.” —Booklist (starred review) From beloved author-illustrator Jessie Hartland comes a whimsical nonfiction picture book that tells the story of the American flag that inspired the poem and our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” If you go to the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, you can see a massive American flag: thirty feet tall and forty-two feet long. That’s huge! But how did it get there? And where did it come from? Well… The story of this giant flag begins in 1812 and stars a major on the eve of battle, a seamstress and her mighty helpers, and a poet named Francis Scott Key. This isn’t just the story of one flag. It’s the story of “The Star Spangled-Banner,” a poem that became our national anthem, too. Dynamically told and stunningly illustrated, Jessie Hartland brings this fascinating and true story to life.

Ballots for Belva
Written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen & illustrated by Courtney A. Martin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

A timely true tale for the 2008 presidential election In 1884, when men were the only people allowed to vote in national elections, Belva Lockwood took a bold but legal step: She ran for president! Women did not have the same rights as men, but Belva went on undeterred—and she got votes! Her run for office was based on experience and merit: Unlike many women of the time, she went to college, then to law school, and even argued cases before the Supreme Court. Though her campaign was difficult, Belva never wavered in her commitment to equality, earning the respect of many fellow citizens. A little-known but richly deserving American historical figure, Belva is an inspiration for modern-day readers. Despite all the changes in society since Belva’s time, there is still a lot to fight for, and Belva shows the way. The book also includes a glossary and a timeline of women’s suffrage events. F&P level: Q

Honorable Mentions
  1. Where's Your Hat, Abe Lincoln? - Abe Lincoln is worried. He cannot find his hat anywhere. Will his friends help him find it? Frederick Douglass is busy writing a book. Clara Barton is busy nursing wounded soldiers. What will Abe do? From Harriett Tubman to Ulysses S. Grant, nobody seems to have the time to join the search. Will Abraham Lincoln find his hat in time to deliver the Gettysburg Address? This colorful and humorous board book primer features some of the most prominent figures of American history and introduces historians of all ages to the incredible beginning of the United States of America.

  2. What's So Special about Dickens? - From the Artful Dodger to Miss Havisham to Scrooge, Charles Dickens brought some of our favorite fictional characters to life. But what inspired him? Who was the man behind the pen? Michael Rosen s chatty and engaging narrative helps answer these questions and explores the world of Dickens and four of his best-loved books: A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and Great Expectations.

  3. Lizzie Borden - Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it takes to be considered one of the worst figures in history, with this fourth book in a nonfiction series that focuses on the most nefarious historical figures. Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one. On August 4, 1892, the murders of wealthy and prominent Andrew and Abby Borden rocked the small town of Fall River, Massachusetts. The accused? Mild-mannered and highly respected Lizzie Borden, daughter of Andrew and stepdaughter of Abby. But did she actually do it? And if she did, why? Lizzie had as much to gain from the death of her father as anyone. Despite his wealth, Andrew did not believe in spending money and Lizzie had grown frustrated with the situation. And her actions in the days before the murder—trying to buy a type of strong poison—as well as those after the murder—burning a dress she claimed was stained—didn’t help. On August 11, Lizzie was arrested. But after a sensational trial, she was found not guilty. Rumors lingered. Stories persisted. And Lizzie continues to fascinate even today.

Books About 1800-1849 and African Americans

Molly, by Golly!
Written by Dianne Ochiltree & illustrated by Kathleen Kemly
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Introduces the first known female firefighter, Molly Williams, an African American cook for New York City’s Fire Company 11, who one winter day in 1818 with many volunteers sick with influenza jumped into action to stop a house fire.

Freedom in Congo Square
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford & illustrated by R Gregory Christie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Chosen as a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2016, this poetic, nonfiction story about a little-known piece of African American history captures a human’s capacity to find hope and joy in difficult circumstances and demonstrates how New Orleans’ Congo Square was truly freedom’s heart. Mondays, there were hogs to slop, mules to train, and logs to chop. Slavery was no ways fair. Six more days to Congo Square. As slaves relentlessly toiled in an unjust system in 19th century Louisiana, they all counted down the days until Sunday, when at least for half a day they were briefly able to congregate in Congo Square in New Orleans. Here they were free to set up an open market, sing, dance, and play music. They were free to forget their cares, their struggles, and their oppression. This story chronicles slaves’ duties each day, from chopping logs on Mondays to baking bread on Wednesdays to plucking hens on Saturday, and builds to the freedom of Sundays and the special experience of an afternoon spent in Congo Square. This book will have a forward from Freddi Williams Evans (freddievans.com), a historian and Congo Square expert, as well as a glossary of terms with pronunciations and definitions.

Night Running: How James Escaped with the Help of His Faithful Dog
Written by Elisa Carbone & illustrated by Earl B. Lewis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

It’s 1838, and James has made a secret plan to escape Master Graham’s farm–and slavery. James tells his dog Zeus he has to stay behind: he’s simply too noisy to bring along on a dangerous nighttime journey. But when two white men capture James soon after he runs, he’s grateful his faithful hunting dog didn’t obey. Zeus has followed behind, and the scrappy hound rescues James from his captors. An author’s note describes the real life inspiration behind the book: James Smith, a slave who escaped with the help of his dog and went on to become a farmer and Baptist minister.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Slave Dancer - One day, thirteen-year-old jessie Bollier is earning pennies playing his fife on the docks of New Orleans; the next, he is kidnapped and thrown aboard a slave ship, where his job is to provide music while shackled slaves “dance” to keep their muscles strong and their bodies profitable. As the endless voyage continues, Jessie grows increasingly sickened by the greed, brutality, and inhumanity of the slave trade, but nothing prepares him for the ultimate horror he will witness before his nightmare ends — a horror that will change his life forever.

  2. How Sweet the Sound - One stormy night at sea, a wayward man named John Newton feared for his life. In his darkest hour he fell to his knees and prayed —and somehow the battered ship survived the storm. Grateful, he changed his ways and became a minister, yet he still owned a slave ship. But in time, empathy touched his heart. A changed man, he used his powerful words to help end slavery in England. Those words became the hymn “Amazing Grace,” a song that has lifted the spirit and given comfort across time and all over the world.

Books About 1800-1849 and 19th Century

Long May She Wave
Written by Kristen Fulton & illustrated by Holly Berry
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Discover the story of the girl who sewed the American flag that inspired the lyrics of the National Anthem in this beautifully illustrated celebration of our country’s iconic symbol for freedom. Caroline Pickersgill came from a family of the best flag makers in Baltimore. She and her family proudly stitched the grand flag that gallantly whipped in the wind over Fort McHenry. But when the British attacked Baltimore on September 12, 1814, would those broad stripes and bright stars still wave strong? Would America still be free and remain the home of the brave?

Lizzy Bennet's Diary
Written & illustrated by Marcia Williams
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Jane Austen’s beloved heroine Lizzy Bennet tells the story of Pride and Prejudice in her own words in an illustrated diary created by Marcia Williams.

When Lizzy Bennet’s father gives her a diary, she fancies she will use it to write a novel, as her real life is exceedingly dull. Then the handsome Mr. Bingley moves to nearby Netherfield Park, and suddenly life is every bit as thrilling as a novel would be. Who will he dance with at the Meryton ball? Who is his haughty friend? Will Lizzy ever receive a marriage proposal? Readers will have to read her diary to find out! Marcia Williams offers a lively introduction to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in a highly illustrated scrapbook-diary format, featuring such novelties as foldout notes from sisters and suitors, an elegant bill of fare, and an invitation to the ball.

Cowboys and Cowgirls
Written & illustrated by Gail Gibbons
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

In words and pictures, this book captures all the excitement and adventure of the Wild West. Gibbons’s colorful watercolors deftly recreate cowboys clothing, equipment, and lifestyle, and the lively text includes descriptions of famous cowboys and cowgirls, as well as historical facts. Full color.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Wagons Ho! - Two girls move from Missouri to Oregon—one in 1846 and one in 2011. One trip takes five months and the other five days. One trip is in a covered wagon, the other in a car. But both girls will miss their old homes and worry about the long trip. Both girls stop at well-known landmarks and travel the Rocky Mountains. And as each girl reaches her new home, she finds her new room and her new friends. Wagons Ho! is a unique look at both history and the concerns all kids have when moving to a new home.

  2. Time Dogs: Seaman and the Great Northern Adventure - An exciting new illustrated chapter book series for dog-loving readers! When a pack of senior dogs find themselves transported back in time—and turned into puppies!—they must make their way back home, helping real-life historical dogs along the way. In this second adventure, Baxter, Trevor, Newton, Titch, and Maia—the time dogs!—find themselves transported through time and space to 1805 on the Missouri River. There, deep in the wilderness, the puppies must help Seaman, the dog of legendary explorers Lewis and Clark.

  3. John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall - The now iconic figure John Muir, while living at the base of Yosemite Falls in California, ventures up the trail from his cabin one night and has a harrowing waterfall adventure. Back matter roots the story in Muir’s life’s work as a conservationist and naturalist.

  4. The Courage Test - Will has no choice. His father drags him along on a wilderness adventure in the footsteps of legendary explorers Lewis and Clark—whether he likes it or not. All the while, Will senses that something about this trip isn’t quite right. Along the journey, Will meets fascinating strangers and experiences new thrills, including mountain cliffs, whitewater rapids, and a heart-hammering bear encounter. It is a journey into the soul of America’s past, and the meaning of family in the future. In the end, Will must face his own, life-changing test of courage. A father-and-son journey along the Lewis and Clark Trail—from Fort Mandan to the shining sea—offers readers a genre-bending blend of American history, thrilling action, and personal discovery. This title has Common Core connections.

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