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1900-1949: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about 1900-1949?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to 1900-1949. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about 1900-1949.

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 1900-1949, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The House of Sixty Fathers to popular sellers like Number the Stars to some of our favorite hidden gems like Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

We hope this list of kids books about 1900-1949 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 1900-1949

The Crayon Man book
#1
The Crayon Man
Written by Natascha Biebow & illustrated by Steven Salerno
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Celebrating the inventor of the Crayola crayon! This gloriously illustrated picture book biography tells the inspiring story of Edwin Binney, the inventor of one of the world’s most beloved toys. A perfect fit among favorites like The Day the Crayons Quit and Balloons Over Broadway. purple mountains’ majesty, mauvelous, jungle green, razzmatazz… What child doesn’t love to hold a crayon in their hands? But children didn’t always have such magical boxes of crayons. Before Edwin Binney set out to change things, children couldn’t really even draw in color. Here’s the true story of an inventor who so loved nature’s vibrant colors that he found a way to bring the outside world to children – in a bright green box for only a nickel! With experimentation, and a special knack for listening, Edwin Binney and his dynamic team at Crayola created one of the world’s most enduring, best-loved childhood toys – empowering children to dream in COLOR!

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.

What Is Given from the Heart book
#3
What Is Given from the Heart
Written by Patricia C. McKissack & illustrated by April Harrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This final, magnificent picture book from three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and Newbery Honor author Patricia McKissack is a poignant and uplifting celebration of the joy of giving.

“Misery loves company,” Mama says to James Otis. It’s been a rough couple of months for them, but Mama says as long as they have their health and strength, they’re blessed. One Sunday before Valentine’s Day, Reverend Dennis makes an announcement during the service— the Temples have lost everything in a fire, and the church is collecting anything that might be useful to them. James thinks hard about what he can add to the Temple’s “love box,” but what does he have worth giving? With her extraordinary gift for storytelling, McKissack—with stunning illustrations by Harrison—delivers a touching, powerful tale of compassion and reminds us all that what is given from the heart, reaches the heart.

Amelia Earhart book
#4
Amelia Earhart
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Mariadiamantes
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Meet Amelia, the fearless female flier! Now available as a board book in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the life of Amelia Earhart, from her childhood as a tomboy to becoming the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean to her eventual disappearance. 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!

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry book
#5
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Written & illustrated by Mildred D. Taylor
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Winner of the Newbery Medal, this remarkably moving novel has impressed the hearts and minds of millions of readers.

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.

  • “[A] vivid story…. Entirely through its own internal development, the novel shows the rich inner rewards of black pride, love, and independence.”—Booklist, starred review
The House That Jane Built book
#6
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.

Marie Curie book
#7
Marie Curie
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Frau Isa
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Meet Marie, the Nobel Prize winning scientist! New in board book format in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the life of Marie Curie, from her childhood in Poland to conducting pioneering research on radioactivity and going on to become the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. 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!

Number the Stars book
#8
Number the Stars
Written by Lois Lowry
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

As the German troops begin their campaign to “relocate” all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family.

Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war.

Hedy Lamarr's Double Life book
#9
Hedy Lamarr's Double Life
Written by Laurie Wallmark & illustrated by Katy Wu
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

To her adoring public, Hedy Lamarr was a glamorous movie star. But in private, she was something more: a brilliant inventor. Now Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu, who collaborated on Sterling’s critically acclaimed picture-book biography Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code, tell the inspiring story of how, during World War Two, Lamarr developed a groundbreaking communications system that still remains essential to the security of today’s technology.

Mary Wears What She Wants book
#10
Mary Wears What She Wants
Written & illustrated by Keith Negley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Once upon a time (but not too long ago), girls only wore dresses. And only boys wore pants. Until one day, a young girl named Mary had a bold idea: She would wear whatever she wanted. And she wanted to wear pants! Inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing doctor who was arrested many times for wearing pants, this fresh, charming picture book encourages readers to think for themselves while gently challenging gender and societal norms.

Table of Contents
Scroll to books about 1900-1949 and...

Books About 1900-1949 and Activism

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.

Before She Was Harriet
Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome & illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A lush and lyrical biography of Harriet Tubman, written in verse. An evocative poem and opulent watercolors come together to honor a woman of humble origins whose courage and compassion make her larger than life.

Honorable Mentions
  1. For Spacious Skies: Katharine Lee Bates and the Inspiration for "America the Beautiful" - Katharine Lee Bates first wrote the lines to “America the Beautiful” after a stirring visit to Pikes Peak in 1893. But the story behind the song begins with Katharine herself, who pushed beyond conventional expectations of women to become an acclaimed writer, scholar, suffragist, and reformer. Katharine believed in the power of words to make a difference, and in “America the Beautiful,” her vision of the nation as a great family, united from sea to shining sea, continues to uplift and inspire us all.

  2. Write to Me - “Dear Miss Breed . . .” A touching story about Japanese American children who corresponded with their beloved librarian while they were imprisoned in World War II internment camps. When Executive Order 9066 is enacted after the attack at Pearl Harbor, children’s librarian Clara Breed’s young Japanese American patrons are to be sent to prison camp. Before they are moved, Breed asks the children to write her letters and gives them books to take with them. Through the three years of their internment, the children correspond with Miss Breed, sharing their stories, providing feedback on books, and creating a record of their experiences. Using excerpts from children’s letters held at the Japanese American National Museum, author Cynthia Grady presents a difficult subject with honesty and hope.

  3. Soldier for Equality - Award-winning author Duncan Tonatiuh brings to life the story of a Mexican-American war hero Jos. de la Luz S.enz (1888-1953)—or Luz—believed in fighting for what was right. Although he was born in the United States, he and his family experienced prejudice because of their Mexican heritage. When World War I broke out, Luz volunteered to join the fight. Because of his ability to quickly learn languages, he became part of the Intelligence Office in Europe. However, despite his hard work and intellect, Luz often didn’t receive credit for his contributions. Upon his return to the US, he joined other Mexican-Americans whom he had met in the army to fight for equality. His contribution, along with others, ultimately led to the creation of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which is the oldest Latino civil rights organization. Soldier for Equality is based in part on Luz’s diary during the war. It includes a biography of Luz’s later years, an author’s note, a timeline, a bibliography, and an index.

  4. 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

Want to see books about activism?

Books About 1900-1949 and Social Themes

What Is Given from the Heart
Written by Patricia C. McKissack & illustrated by April Harrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This final, magnificent picture book from three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and Newbery Honor author Patricia McKissack is a poignant and uplifting celebration of the joy of giving.

“Misery loves company,” Mama says to James Otis. It’s been a rough couple of months for them, but Mama says as long as they have their health and strength, they’re blessed. One Sunday before Valentine’s Day, Reverend Dennis makes an announcement during the service— the Temples have lost everything in a fire, and the church is collecting anything that might be useful to them. James thinks hard about what he can add to the Temple’s “love box,” but what does he have worth giving? With her extraordinary gift for storytelling, McKissack—with stunning illustrations by Harrison—delivers a touching, powerful tale of compassion and reminds us all that what is given from the heart, reaches the heart.

Bud, Not Buddy
Written & illustrated by Christopher Paul Curtis
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

The Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award-winning classic about a boy who decides to hit the road to find his father—from Christopher Paul Curtis, author of The Watsons Go To Birmingham—1963, a Newbery and Coretta Scott King Honoree.

It’s 1936, in Flint Michigan. Times may be hard, and ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but Bud’s got a few things going for him:

  1. He has his own suitcase full of special things.
  2. He’s the author of Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself.
  3. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: flyers advertising Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!!

Bud’s got an idea that those flyers will lead him to his father. Once he decides to hit the road to find this mystery man, nothing can stop him—not hunger, not fear, not vampires, not even Herman E. Calloway himself.

AN ALA BEST BOOK FOR YOUNG ADULTS AN ALA NOTABLE CHILDREN’S BOOK AN IRA CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARD WINNER NAMED TO 14 STATE AWARD LISTS

“The book is a gem, of value to all ages, not just the young people to whom it is aimed.” —The Christian Science Monitor

“Will keep readers engrossed from first page to last.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred

“Curtis writes with a razor-sharp intelligence that grabs the reader by the heart and never lets go. . . . This highly recommended title [is] at the top of the list of books to be read again and again.” —Voice of Youth Advocates, Starred

Child of St Kilda
Written & illustrated by Beth Waters
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-9

Norman John Gillies was one of the last children ever born on St Kilda, five years before the whole population was evacuated forever to the British mainland. People had lived on these islands for over four thousand years, developing a thriving, tightly-knit society that knew nothing of crime or money, and took care of its weakest members without hesitation. At the mercy of the seasons and the elements, a unique lifestyle evolved, based around resilience, mutual trust and caring. What was it like to grow up in such harsh conditions? Why and how did this ancient way of life suddenly cease in 1930? Where did the islanders go, and what became of them? And what became of Norman John, child of St Kilda?

Honorable Mentions
  1. The War I Finally Won - A New York Times bestseller Like the classic heroines of Sarah, Plain and Tall, Little Women, and Anne of Green Gables, Ada is a fighter for the ages. Her triumphant World War II journey continues in this sequel to the Newbery Honor-winning The War that Saved My Life When Ada’s clubfoot is surgically fixed at last, she knows for certain that she’s not what her mother said she was—damaged, deranged, crippled mentally as well as physically. She’s not a daughter anymore, either. Who is she now? World War II rages on, and Ada and her brother, Jamie, move with their guardian, Susan, into a cottage with the iron-faced Lady Thorton and her daughter, Maggie. Life in the crowded home is tense. Then Ruth moves in. Ruth, a Jewish girl, from Germany. A German? Could Ruth be a spy? As the fallout from war intensifies, calamity creeps closer, and life during wartime grows even more complicated. Who will Ada decide to be? How can she keep fighting? And who will she struggle to save?

  2. Gittel's Journey - Gittel and her mother were supposed to immigrate to America together, but when her mother is stopped by the health inspector, Gittel must make the journey alone. Her mother writes her cousin’s address in New York on a piece of paper. However, when Gittel arrives at Ellis Island, she discovers the ink has run and the address is illegible! How will she find her family? Both a heart-wrenching and heartwarming story, Gittel’s Journey offers a fresh perspective on the immigration journey to Ellis Island. The book includes an author’s note explaining how Gittel’s story is based on the journey to America taken by Lesléa Newman’s grandmother and family friend.

  3. Coming on Home Soon - Ada Ruth’s mama must go away to Chicago to work, leaving Ada Ruth and Grandma behind. It’s war time, and women are needed to fill the men’s jobs. As winter sets in, Ada Ruth and her grandma keep up their daily routine, missing Mama all the time. They find strength in each other, and a stray kitten even arrives one day to keep them company, but nothing can fill the hole Mama left. Every day they wait, watching for the letter that says Mama will be coming on home soon. Set during World War II, Coming On Home Soon has a timeless quality that will appeal to all who wait and hope.

  4. The Wolf Wilder - A girl and the wolves who love her embark on a rescue mission through Russian wilderness in this lyrical tale from the author of the acclaimed Rooftoppers and Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms. Feo’s life is extraordinary. Her mother trains domesticated wolves to be able to fend for themselves in the snowy wilderness of Russia, and Feo is following in her footsteps to become a wolf wilder. She loves taking care of the wolves, especially the three who stay at the house because they refuse to leave Feo, even though they’ve already been wilded. But not everyone is enamored with the wolves, or with the fact that Feo and her mother are turning them wild. And when her mother is taken captive, Feo must travel through the cold, harsh woods to save her—and learn from her wolves how to survive. From the author of Rooftoppers, which Booklist called “a glorious adventure,” and Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms, which VOYA called “a treasure of a book,” comes an enchanting novel about love and resilience.

Books About 1900-1949 and 1930's

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Written & illustrated by Mildred D. Taylor
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Winner of the Newbery Medal, this remarkably moving novel has impressed the hearts and minds of millions of readers.

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.

  • “[A] vivid story…. Entirely through its own internal development, the novel shows the rich inner rewards of black pride, love, and independence.”—Booklist, starred review
Out of the Dust
Written by Karen Hesse
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 11-14

Out of the Dust joins the Scholastic Gold line, which features award-winning and beloved novels. Includes exclusive bonus content!

“Dust piles up like snow across the prairie. . . .”

A terrible accident has transformed Billie Jo’s life, scarring her inside and out. Her mother is gone. Her father can’t talk about it. And the one thing that might make her feel better — playing the piano — is impossible with her wounded hands.

To make matters worse, dust storms are devastating the family farm and all the farms nearby. While others flee from the dust bowl, Billie Jo is left to find peace in the bleak landscape of Oklahoma — and in the surprising landscape of her own heart.

It Rained Warm Bread
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-14

Moishe was thirteen when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 and he was sent to Auschwitz. His home was ravaged, his family torn apart by illness and abduction. Years of brutality drew on as Moishe moved from one labor camp to the next. Finally, towards the end of the war and at the peak of Moishe’s deepest despair, a simple act of kindness by a group of courageous Czech women redeemed his faith that goodness could survive the trials of war: That was the day it rained warm bread. Deftly articulated and beautifully illustrated, this is a strong addition to the ever-important genre of Holocaust testimonies.

Honorable Mentions
  1. A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis - On the eve of World War II, African American boxer Joe Louis fought German Max Schmeling in a bout that had more at stake than just the world heavyweight title; for much of America their fight came to represent America’s war with Germany. This elegant and powerful picture book biography centers around the historic fight in which Black and White America were able to put aside prejudice and come together to celebrate our nation’s ideals.

  2. Moon Over Manifest - Winner of the 2011 Newbery Award. The movement of the train rocked me like a lullaby. I closed my eyes to the dusty countryside and imagined the sign I’d seen only in Gideon’s stories: Manifest—A Town with a rich past and a bright future. Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was. Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.” Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town. Powerful in its simplicity and rich in historical detail, Clare Vanderpool’s debut is a gripping story of loss and redemption.

  3. Spies, Lies, and Disguise - In the late 1930s, times were desperate. The world found itself at war again, less than twenty years after the first World War had ended. No one could quite believe it. The leaders of every country involved were left with no choice. They had to try to end the war as fast as possible, using whatever means they could. That meant coming up with secret operations meant to deceive, deflect, and confuse their enemies. Poison the cattle that the Germans eat? Deliberately float a corpse dressed as a spy across the water to have it wash up on Germany’s shore? These were all real tactics attempted with the ultimate goal of defeating Hitler. Readers will be captivated by the classified and covert efforts made by each side as they tried to gain the upper hand and win the war.

  4. A Long Way from Chicago - A boy recounts his annual summer trips to rural Illinois with his sister during the Great Depression to visit their larger-than-life grandmother.

Want to see books about 1930's?

Books About 1900-1949 and Inventions

The Crayon Man
Written by Natascha Biebow & illustrated by Steven Salerno
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Celebrating the inventor of the Crayola crayon! This gloriously illustrated picture book biography tells the inspiring story of Edwin Binney, the inventor of one of the world’s most beloved toys. A perfect fit among favorites like The Day the Crayons Quit and Balloons Over Broadway. purple mountains’ majesty, mauvelous, jungle green, razzmatazz… What child doesn’t love to hold a crayon in their hands? But children didn’t always have such magical boxes of crayons. Before Edwin Binney set out to change things, children couldn’t really even draw in color. Here’s the true story of an inventor who so loved nature’s vibrant colors that he found a way to bring the outside world to children – in a bright green box for only a nickel! With experimentation, and a special knack for listening, Edwin Binney and his dynamic team at Crayola created one of the world’s most enduring, best-loved childhood toys – empowering children to dream in COLOR!

Hedy Lamarr's Double Life
Written by Laurie Wallmark & illustrated by Katy Wu
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

To her adoring public, Hedy Lamarr was a glamorous movie star. But in private, she was something more: a brilliant inventor. Now Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu, who collaborated on Sterling’s critically acclaimed picture-book biography Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code, tell the inspiring story of how, during World War Two, Lamarr developed a groundbreaking communications system that still remains essential to the security of today’s technology.

Who Was Thomas Alva Edison?
Written by Who HQ and Margaret Frith & illustrated by John O'Brien
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

One day in 1882, Thomas Edison flipped a switch that lit up lower Manhattan with incandescent light and changed the way people live ever after. The electric light bulb was only one of thousands of Edison’s inventions, which include the phonograph and the kinetoscope, an early precursor to the movie camera. As a boy, observing a robin catch a worm and then take flight, he fed a playmate a mixture of worms and water to see if she could fly! Here’s an accessible, appealing biography with 100 black-and-white illustrations.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Whoosh! - A cool idea with a big splash You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy. A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.

  2. Marie Curie - Celebrated author and artist Demi beautifully portrays the life and story of Marie Curie, the revolutionary scientist and winner of two Nobel Prizes. Maria Salomea Sklodowaska was born on November 7, 1867. Her family called her Manya, but the world would remember her by another name: Marie Curie, one of the greatest scientists who ever lived. In a time when few women attended college, Marie earned degrees in physics and mathematics and went on to discover two elements: radium and polonium. She also invented a new word along the way: radioactive. This book celebrates her momentous achievements while also educating its readers about her scientific accomplishments and their implications.

  3. The Wright Brothers: Nose-Diving into History - A hilarious nonfiction look at two of history’s most epic “failures”: the Wright brothers, whose countless crashes and biggest failures led to ultimate success. Although the Wright Brothers are now celebrated as heroes for their groundbreaking contributions to science and engineering as the first men to successfully manage powered, piloted flight, their eventual success was built on the back of a lot of nosedives. It took the self-taught engineers years of work and countless crashes before they managed to remain airborne for a mere twelve seconds! In this hilarious first installment of the Epic Fails series, Ben Thompson and Erik Slader take readers through the the Wright Brothers’ many failed attempts at flight before achieving their groundbreaking success, laying the foundation for aviation as we know it today.

  4. When Sparks Fly: The True Story of Robert Goddard, the Father of US Rocketry - Robert Goddard may be known as the father of US rocketry, but back in the 1880s, he was just a kid in Worcester, Massachusetts. Even as a youngster, his eyes glimmered with scientific interest and the thrill of discovery. With BAMS! POPS! BANGS! he experimented time and time again with one mission: make his rockets fly! Join Kristen Fulton and Diego Funck as they take you on one explosive journey about a young kid who shot for the moon, never gave up, and let his creative sparks of curiosity burn bright.

Want to see books about inventions?

Books About 1900-1949 and Girls And Women

Mary Wears What She Wants
Written & illustrated by Keith Negley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Once upon a time (but not too long ago), girls only wore dresses. And only boys wore pants. Until one day, a young girl named Mary had a bold idea: She would wear whatever she wanted. And she wanted to wear pants! Inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing doctor who was arrested many times for wearing pants, this fresh, charming picture book encourages readers to think for themselves while gently challenging gender and societal norms.

I Dreamed I was a Ballerina
Written by Anna Pavlova & illustrated by Edgar Degas
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Every girl remembers her first trip to the ballet: the anticipation beforehand, the orchestra’s first notes, the ethereal beauty of the ballerinas. This is a tale of one such girl who was caught up in ballet’s mesmerizing spell and became one of the greatest ballerinas of all time.

In a story drawn from her memoirs, Anna Pavlova describes her first visit to the ballet to see the Sleeping Beauty. With simple, childlike language, she captures her love for her mother, the splendor of the ballet, and the moments that changed her life. The words are matched with paintings, pastels, and drawings of the French Impressionist Edgar Degas, to give this story all the magic of a fairytale.

Complete with short biographies of Pavlova and Degas, I Dreamed I Was a Ballerina will delight any child with ballerina dreams.

Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles
Written by Mara Rockliff & illustrated by Hadley Hooper
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

The author of Mesmerized delivers another fascinating glimpse into history, this time the story of two brave suffragists on a trek across America to spread the word: Votes for Women! In April 1916, Nell Richardson and Alice Burke set out from New York City in a little yellow car, embarking on a bumpy, muddy, unmapped journey ten thousand miles long. They took with them a teeny typewriter, a tiny sewing machine, a wee black kitten, and a message for Americans all across the country: Votes for Women! The women’s suffrage movement was in full swing, and Nell and Alice would not let anything keep them from spreading the word about equal voting rights for women. Braving blizzards, deserts, and naysayers—not to mention a whole lot of tires stuck in the mud—the two courageous friends made their way through the cities and towns of America to further their cause. One hundred years after Nell and Alice set off on their trip, Mara Rockliff revives their spirit in a lively and whimsical picture book, with exuberant illustrations by Hadley Hooper bringing their inspiring historical trek to life.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Dancing Through Fields of Color - They said only men could paint powerful pictures, but Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) splashed her way through the modern art world. Channeling deep emotion, Helen poured paint onto her canvas and danced with the colors to make art unlike anything anyone had ever seen. She used unique tools like mops and squeegees to push the paint around, to dazzling effects. Frankenthaler became an originator of the influential “Color Field” style of abstract expressionist painting with her “soak stain” technique, and her artwork continues to electrify new generations of artists today. Dancing Through Fields of Color discusses Frankenthaler’s early life, how she used colors to express emotion, and how she overcame the male-dominated art world of the 1950s.

  2. Maria Montessori: My First Maria Montessori - This board book version of _Maria Montessori_—from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to the incredible life of this pioneering teacher and researcher. Maria grew up in Italy at a time when girls didn’t receive an equal education to boys. But Maria’s mother was supportive of her dreams, and Maria went on to study medicine. She later became an early childhood expert—founding schools with her revolutionary educational theories and changing the lives of many children. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating educator and innovator, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own. Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children. Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

  3. Fearless Mary - “The true story of Mary Fields, aka “Stagecoach Mary,” a trailblazing African American woman who helped settle the American West.”—Provided by the Publisher.

  4. Sylvia's Bookshop - Meet the trailblazer and book lover who started the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris, France, in this beautifully illustrated picture book that celebrates stories, reading, and the importance of sharing ideas. “Books are my treasures—the best that I’ve got.” Books are like rivers that flow through my head. Books are like roads,” she just might have said. “Roads that connect my old self to my new. Unlocking our hearts to what’s noble and true.” Told by the bookstore itself, Sylvia’s Bookshop tells the story of the legendary Shakespeare and Company, its owner Sylvia Beach, and the many great writers who gathered there to meet, read, and remind us that books are more than the words on the page.

Books About 1900-1949 and Female Role Models

Lumber Jills
Written by Alexandra Davis & illustrated by Katie Hickey
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In World War II, Great Britain needed lumber to make planes, ships, and even newspapers—but there weren’t enough men to cut down the trees. Enter the fearless Lumber Jills! These young women may not have had much woodcutting experience, but they each had two hands willing to work and one stout heart, and they came together to do their part. Discover this lyrical story of home front heroism and female friendship.

Swan
Written by Laurel Snyder & illustrated by Julie Morstad
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

“Spare, poetic words sit as lightly as snowflakes.”—Wall Street Journal “An enchanting glimpse of a dancer whose name has come to be synonymous with her most famous role.”—School Library Journal, starred review One night, young Anna’s mother takes her to the ballet, and everything is changed. So begins the journey of a girl who will one day grow up to be the most famous prima ballerina of all time, inspiring legions of dancers after her: the brave, the generous, the transcendently gifted Anna Pavlova. Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova is a heartbreakingly beautiful picture book biography perfect for aspiring ballerinas of all ages.

Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit
Written by Linda Marshall & illustrated by Ilaria Urbinati and Linda Marshall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“An exceptionally accurate portrait of Beatrix Potter told with humor and surprise. Beautifully done.” Linda Lear, author of Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature

Through she’s universally known as the creator of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter did so much more. This is the true story about how she helped save the English countryside!

Growing up in London, Beatrix Potter felt the restraints of Victorian times. Girls didn’t go to school and weren’t expected to work. But she longed to do something important, something that truly mattered. As Beatrix spent her summers in the country and found inspiration in nature, it was through this passion that her creativity flourished.

There, she crafted The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She would eventually move to the countryside full-time, but developers sought to change the land. To save it, Beatrix used the money from the success of her books and bought acres and acres of land and farms to prevent the development of the countryside that both she and Peter Rabbit so cherished. Because of her efforts, it’s been preserved just as she left it.

This beautiful picture book shines a light on Beatrix Potter’s lesser-known history and her desire to do something for the greater good.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Little Guides to Great Lives: Marie Curie - Marie Curie was a brilliant scientist who coined the term ‘radioactivity’, discovered polonium and radium, and helped develop treatments for cancer. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, but her dedication to physics ultimately caused her death from radiation. From artists to aviators and scientists to revolutionaries, Little Guides to Great Lives is a brand new series of small-format guides introducing children to the most inspirational figures from history in a fun, accessible way. Launching with Leonardo da Vinci, Marie Curie, Nelson Mandela, and Amelia Earhart, Little Guides to Great Lives tells the stories of the most amazing people from all over the world and across history, with full-color illustrations and fresh design to bring their incredible stories to life.

  2. Alice Across America: The Story of the First Women's Cross-Country Road Trip - Writer Sarah Glenn Marsh and illustrator Gilbert Ford’s Alice Across America is a nonfiction picture book account of maverick Alice Ramsey, the first woman to drive a car across America in 1909. When Alice Ramsey was little, she loved to ride horses. As she grew up, more people were driving cars. From the moment Alice slid behind the wheel, she was crazy about cars. So when the Maxwell-Briscoe Company challenged her to drive one of their new cars across the country as a promotional ploy to prove that even a lady could do it, Alice daringly accepted. With several women by her side, these brazen drivers sustained many hardships over the course of a remarkable two-month journey and far surpassed all expectations. With a clever blend of women’s history, technological history, and American roading geography, this is a celebration of unstoppable women making strides in twentieth-century America. Christy Ottaviano Books

Books About 1900-1949 and Friendship

Number the Stars
Written by Lois Lowry
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

As the German troops begin their campaign to “relocate” all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family.

Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war.

Portrait in Poems: The Storied Life of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas
Written by Evie Robillard & illustrated by Rachel Katstaller
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Here’s an insider’s tour of the fascinating lives of Gertrude Stein and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, amusingly addressed directly to the reader (“The next time you go to Paris …”). It explores the couple’s art collection, their famous writer and artist friends and even their dog, Basket. It also describes how Gertrude’s book The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas was not about Alice, but was more about Gertrude herself! A celebration of creativity and the creative process, this original and very readable picture book biography champions two women who dared to live unconventional lives.

In playful free verse, author Evie Robillard offers a unique introduction to one of the most influential figures of twentieth-century art and literature. It includes twelve child-friendly quotations from Stein’s work, such as: “It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.” Illustrator Rachel Katstaller’s fun yet detailed art delightfully evokes the time and place of the text. Touching on literature, history, writing and the visual arts, this biography offers loads of direct curriculum applications. Back matter includes a time line, “snapshots,” sources and an author’s note with further background.

The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan
Written by Patricia Bailey
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Life in a Nevada mining town in 1905 is not easy for 13-year-old Kit Donovan, who is trying to do right by her deceased mother and become a proper lady. When Kit discovers Papa’s boss at the gold mine is profiting from unsafe working conditions, she realizes being a lady is tougher than it looks. With a man’s hat and a printing press, Kit puts her big mouth and all the life skills she’s learned from reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to work, defying threats of violence and finding that justice doesn’t always look like she imagined it would.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Lassie Come-Home - For more than eighty years, Lassie Come-Home has been the quintessential friendship story between a boy and his dog. From books to television to the silver screen, Lassie remains one of the most adventurous, courageous and loyal friends in the history of popular culture. Twelve-year-old Joe Carraclough can’t imagine life without his family’s dog and beloved friend, Lassie. The pair are inseparable, from walks home from school together every afternoon to epic explorations of the Yorkshire countryside. Then Joe’s family falls on hard times, and his father is forced to sell their prized collie to the Duke of Rudling. Joe thinks there’s no chance he will ever see his best friend again. But, Lassie has other plans. Driven by natural instinct and an extraordinary love, Lassie escapes from her new owners and makes a perilous journey back to Greenall Bridge to reunite with Joe. Across hundreds of miles and against staggering odds, Lassie rises to every occasion as she races back to her home…and her family. This special collector’s edition celebrates the enduring origin story of our favorite collie, with an introduction by New York Times-bestselling author Ann M. Martin, pen-and-ink illustrations by Marguerite Kirmse, and a stunning new package.

  2. The Bracelet - In 1942 America, seven-year-old Emi and her Japanese-American family are forced to leave their home, a situation that becomes even more devastating when she loses a precious gold bracelet, a gift from her best friend.

  3. Ruby in the Ruins - From beloved British storyteller Shirley Hughes comes a touching tale of unconditional love as a family puts itself back together in postwar London. Ruby and Mum cling to each other while they live through the terrifying London Blitz, waiting for Dad to come home from the war. Day after day they hope for his return — but when the moment to meet him at the station finally comes, Ruby hardly recognizes the tall man who steps off the train. He’s big and sunburned, and he doesn’t seem to be as engaged as he once was. It’s easier to play outside in the wreckage of the bombings than to stay at home with a dad she doesn’t know anymore. But when Ruby hurts her knee in the ruins, there’s only one person who can rescue her and make her feel all right.

Want to see books about friendship?

Books About 1900-1949 and Transportation

Amelia Earhart
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Mariadiamantes
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Meet Amelia, the fearless female flier! Now available as a board book in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the life of Amelia Earhart, from her childhood as a tomboy to becoming the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean to her eventual disappearance. 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!

Lifeboat 12
Written by Susan Hood
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-13

In the tradition of The War That Saved My Life and Stella By Starlight, this poignant novel in verse based on true events tells the story of a boy’s harrowing experience on a lifeboat after surviving a torpedo attack during World War II. With Nazis bombing London every night, it’s time for thirteen-year-old Ken to escape. He suspects his stepmother is glad to see him go, but his dad says he’s one of the lucky ones—one of ninety boys and girls to ship out aboard the SS City of Benares to safety in Canada. Life aboard the luxury ship is grand—nine-course meals, new friends, and a life far from the bombs, rations, and his stepmum’s glare. And after five days at sea, the ship’s officers announce that they’re out of danger. They’re wrong. Late that night, an explosion hurls Ken from his bunk. They’ve been hit. Torpedoed! The Benares is sinking fast. Terrified, Ken scrambles aboard Lifeboat 12 with five other boys. Will they get away? Will they survive? Award-winning author Susan Hood brings this little-known World War II story to life in a riveting novel of courage, hope, and compassion. Based on true events and real people, Lifeboat 12 is about believing in one another, knowing that only by banding together will we have any chance to survive.

Raid of No Return (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #7)
Written & illustrated by Nathan Hale
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Nathan Hale tackles a topic fans have been asking about for years: World War II. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, officially bringing the United States into World War II. A new generation of pilots were recruited to fly bombing missions for the United States, and from that group, volunteers were requested for a dangerous secret assignment. For the first time in American history, Army bombers would be launched from an aircraft carrier. Once at sea, they were told their mission was a retaliation strike against targets in Tokyo. But on the day of the raid, a Japanese patrol boat spotted them and they had to launch early, with barely enough fuel to get them past their target. After the bombing, some pilots crashed, some were captured, and many ended up in mainland China and were carried to safety by Chinese villagers, being hunted by Japanese forces all the while. With tales of high-flying action and bravery, Raid of No Return is a story of heartbreak and survival during wartime.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Little Guides to Great Lives: Amelia Earhart - The first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, Amelia Earhart was a superstar of aviation in the 1920s and 1930s and a pioneer of women’s rights. Her disappearance in 1937, while attempting to fly around the world, remains an unsolved mystery. From artists to aviators and scientists to revolutionaries, Little Guides to Great Lives is a brand new series of small-format guides introducing children to the most inspirational figures from history in a fun, accessible way. Launching with Leonardo da Vinci, Marie Curie, Nelson Mandela, and Amelia Earhart, Little Guides to Great Lives tells the stories of the most amazing people from all over the world and across history, with full-color illustrations and fresh design to bring their incredible stories to life.

  2. The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont - Profiles Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, who made great strides in the invention of flight.

  3. A Dream of Flight - Years before the invention of the modern airplane, Alberto Santos-Dumont dreamed of flying. As a boy, he was mesmerized by the machinery on his father’s coffee plantation in Brazil and went on to study science and engineering in France. Soon his groundbreaking—and sometimes silly—inventions became the talk of Paris, especially after he set his sights on building an airship that could bring the world’s people together. His small stature and big ideas earned him the nickname “Le Petite Santos.” This is the story of Santos’s successful race for the Deutsche Prize, and his many failures along the way. Chock-full of cool diagrams, charming Parisian scenes, and graphic novel-style spot illustrations, A Dream of Flight will have young readers looking to the sky and scheming up their own aerial inventions.

  4. The Bravest Man in the World - One afternoon, Jonathan Harker Weeks didn’t feel like practicing the piano. So his grandfather decided to tell him a story to show how much of an impact music can have. When he was a child growing up poor in Ireland, his mother made sure he learned to play the fiddle, despite their challenges. After his mother passed away and he was on his own, Jonathan’s grandfather fell asleep hiding in a mail sack and was taken to a ship. When he woke up, he realized he was on the Titanic on its maiden voyage, and it was there that he met Wallace Hartley and Mrs. Weeks, a kind man and woman who took him in. Then one night, the majestic ship hit an iceberg. He and Mrs. Weeks were put on a lifeboat—and Mr. Hartley and his band bravely continued to play to calm the crew and passengers. The story of Wallace Hartley is true and he is known throughout the world as a hero. The New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of The Keeping Quilt Patricia Polacco offers this stunning and heartbreaking picture book to celebrate the memory and bravery of a single man who used the power of music to comfort thousands of people during a catastrophic situation.

Books About 1900-1949 and Science And Technology

Marie Curie
Written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & illustrated by Frau Isa
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Meet Marie, the Nobel Prize winning scientist! New in board book format in the Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the life of Marie Curie, from her childhood in Poland to conducting pioneering research on radioactivity and going on to become the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. 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!

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.

Snowflake Bentley
Written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin & illustrated by Mary Azarian
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“Of all the forms of water the tiny six-pointed crystals of ice called snow are incomparably the most beautiful and varied.” — Wilson Bentley (1865-1931)

From the time he was a small boy in Vermont, Wilson Bentley saw snowflakes as small miracles. And he determined that one day his camera would capture for others the wonder of the tiny crystal. Bentley’s enthusiasm for photographing snowflakes was often misunderstood in his time, but his patience and determination revealed two important truths: no two snowflakes are alike; and each one is startlingly beautiful. His story is gracefully told and brought to life in lovely woodcuts, giving children insight into a soul who had not only a scientist’s vision and perseverance but a clear passion for the wonders of nature. Snowflake Bentley won the 1999 Caldecott Medal.

Honorable Mentions
  1. DK Biography: Marie Curie: A Photographic Story of a Life - DK Biography: Marie Curie tells the story of the discoverer of radium, from her childhood in Warsaw, to her experiments with radioactivity in Paris, to her recognition as one of the preeminent scientists of her time. Filled with archival photographs and amazing fact boxes, this groundbreaking series introduces young readers to some of history’s most interesting and influential characters. Supports the Common Core State Standards.

  2. Marie Curie - Marie Curie, the woman who coined the term radioactivity, won not just one Nobel Prize but two?in physics and chemistry, both supposedly girl-phobic sciences.

  3. Pocket Bios: Marie Curie - A colorfully illustrated, pocket-size picture book biography of influential physicist and chemist Marie Curie. Marie Curie, the first woman ever to win a Nobel Prize and only person to win it in two different scientific fields, was a physicist and chemist. As she conducted pioneering research, Marie Curie coined the term “radioactivity,” developed some of the first techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes. She also discovered two elements: polonium and radium, and developed mobile X-ray units for use in field hospitals during World War I. In 1934, at the age of sixty-six, she died of complications from long-term exposure to radiation. Pocket Bios are full of personality, introducing readers to fascinating figures from history with simple storytelling and cheerful illustrations. Titles include men and women from history, exploration, the sciences, the arts, the ancient world, and more.

Books About 1900-1949 and Military And Wars

Navajo Code Talkers
Written by Blake Hoena
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-14

During World War II U.S. forces had to keep battle plans and other top secret information out of the enemy’s hands. Coded messages were often used, but secret codes could be broken. To solve this problem, the U.S. military turned to an unexpected source to create an unbreakable code. The Navajo people spoke a complex language that few outsiders knew how to speak. Several Navajo soldiers were recruited to develop a code based on the Navajo language. The result was a complex code that could not be solved by the enemy. Learn all about the brave Navajo Code Talkers and how their unbreakable code helped defeat the enemy and win the war.

Night Witches at War
Written by Bruce Berglund
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-14

Flying combat missions in wartime is always dangerous. But imagine doing so in a slow, rickety biplane, at night, with no lights or navigational equipment of any kind. Sound impossible? It wasn’t for the Soviet Night Witches. This unit of incredibly brave women flew hundreds of missions to attack German forces on the front lines during World War II. Learn all about these brave women and how their skill and courage in battle helped defeat the Nazis to win the war.

Infinite Hope
Written & illustrated by Ashley Bryan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 10-13

In May of 1942, at the age of eighteen, Ashley Bryan was drafted to fight in World War II. For the next three years, he would face the horrors of war as a black soldier in a segregated army. He endured the terrible lies white officers told about the black soldiers to isolate them from anyone who showed kindness—including each other. He received worse treatment than even Nazi POWs. He was assigned the grimmest, most horrific tasks, like burying fallen soldiers…but was told to remove the black soldiers first because the media didn’t want them in their newsreels. And he waited and wanted so desperately to go home, watching every white soldier get safe passage back to the United States before black soldiers were even a thought. For the next forty years, Ashley would keep his time in the war a secret. But now, he tells his story. The story of the kind people who supported him. The story of the bright moments that guided him through the dark. And the story of his passion for art that would save him time and time again. Filled with never-before-seen artwork and handwritten letters and diary entries, this illuminating and moving memoir by Newbery Honor–winning illustrator Ashley Bryan is both a lesson in history and a testament to hope.

Honorable Mentions
  1. A Meeting in the Sky - On December 20, 1943, a German pilot escorted an American bomber to safety; this remarkable, secret meeting in the sky inspired a lifelong quest to reunite as the two former enemies became friends.

  2. The Brave Cyclist - Once a skinny and weak child, Gino Bartali rose to become a Tour de France champion and one of cycling’s greatest stars. But all that seemed unimportant when his country came under the grip of a brutal dictator and entered World War II on the side of Nazi Germany. Bartali might have appeared a mere bystander to the harassment and hatred directed toward Italy’s Jewish people, but secretly he accepted a role in a dangerous plan to help them. Putting his own life at risk, Bartali used his speed and endurance on a bike to deliver documents Jewish people needed to escape harm. His inspiring story reveals how one person could make a difference against violence and prejudice during the time of the Holocaust.

  3. Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code - As a young Navajo boy, Chester Nez had to leave the reservation and attend boarding school, where he was taught that his native language and culture were useless. But Chester refused to give up his heritage. Years later, during World War II, Chester—and other Navajo men like him—was recruited by the US Marines to use the Navajo language to create an unbreakable military code. Suddenly the language he had been told to forget was needed to fight a war. This powerful picture book biography contains backmatter including a timeline and a portion of the Navajo code, and also depicts the life of an original Navajo code talker while capturing the importance of heritage.

  4. U. S. Ghost Army - When you need to mislead the enemy, who are you going to call? The Ghost Army of course! During World War II this top secret group of artists and special effects experts worked to deceive German forces on the front lines. Using fake combat vehicles and artillery, dummies dressed as soldiers, and broadcasting the sounds of troops and equipment, the Ghost Army often tricked the Germans into believing U.S. forces were about to attack in one place while the real troops moved against another target. Learn all about these master illustionists’ efforts to trick the Nazis and help win the war.

Books About 1900-1949 and War

Finding Winnie
Written by Lindsay Mattick & illustrated by Sophie Blackall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Before Winnie-the-Pooh, there was a real bear named Winnie. In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian on his way to tend horses in World War I, followed his heart and rescued a baby bear. He named her Winnie, after his hometown of Winnipeg, and he took the bear to war. Harry Colebourn’s real-life great-granddaughter tells the true story of a remarkable friendship and an even more remarkable journey—from the fields of Canada to a convoy across the ocean to an army base in England… And finally to the London Zoo, where Winnie made another new friend: a real boy named Christopher Robin. Here is the remarkable true story of the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh.

The Boy on the Wooden Box
Written by Leon Leyson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-14

Traces the story of Holocaust survivor Leon Leyson, who was the youngest child in his family and possibly the youngest of the hundreds of Jews rescued by Oskar Schindler.

Renato and the Lion
Written & illustrated by Barbara Dilorenzo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

The touching, magical story of a boy in a war-torn country and the stone lion that rescues him.

Renato loves his home in Florence, Italy. He loves playing with his friends in the Piazza della Signoria. He loves walking home by the beautiful buildings and fountains with his father in the evenings. And he especially loves the stone lion who seems to smile at him from a pedestal in the piazza. The lion makes him feel safe.

But one day his father tells him that their family must leave. Their country is at war, and they will be safer in America. Renato can only think of his lion. Who will keep him safe?

With luminous watercolor paintings, Barbara DiLorenzo captures the beauty of Florence in this heartwarming and ultimately magical picture book.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Watcher - After Wendy is kidnapped, the only way she can survive World War II Germany is with the help of a special dog and the family she never knew she had in this historically accurate, standalone companion to Shadows on the Sea that Kirkus Reviews calls “a stimulating blend of suspense and history.” 1942. Berlin, Germany. How did Wendy end up in such a place? Just a few months ago, she was enjoying her time in Maine, supporting the American war effort. But she was kidnapped, then betrayed by her own mother, who is actually a Nazi spy. As a new Berliner—and now a German—Wendy is expected to speak in a language she’s never known and support a cause she doesn’t believe in. There are allies, though, among the Germans. Allies who have been watching over Wendy since she arrived. And Wendy, along with her new German shepherd puppy, must confront them. If only she can find them. Her life depends on it.

  2. The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery - Flossie Birdwhistle is the Turnkey at London’s Highgate Cemetery. As Turnkey, it’s Flossie’s job to ensure that all the souls buried in the cemetery stay at rest. Not an easy job for a young ghost, but a task made especially difficult by World War II: London is being attacked every night by enemy bombers, and even the dead are unsettled. When Flossie encounters the ghost of a German soldier carrying a mysterious object that seems to exist in both the living and spirit worlds, she becomes suspicious—what is the officer up to? Before long, Flossie uncovers a sinister plot that could destroy not only her cemetery, but also her beloved country. Can Flossie and her ghostly friends stop the soldier before it’s too late? History collides with the supernatural in this exciting, ethereal mystery from Allison Rushby.

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Books About 1900-1949 and America

The William Hoy Story
Written by Nancy Churnin & illustrated by Jez Tuya
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

All William Ellsworth Hoy wanted to do was play baseball. After losing out on a spot on the local deaf team, William practiced even harder—eventually earning a position on a professional team. But his struggle was far from over. In addition to the prejudice Hoy faced, he could not hear the umpires’ calls. One day he asked the umpire to use hand signals: strike, ball, out. That day he not only got on base but also changed the way the game was played forever. William “Dummy” Hoy became one of the greatest and most beloved players of his time!

Twice As Good- William Powell
Written by Richard Michelson & illustrated by Eric Velasquez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Willie Powell had been told, “If you are going to get ahead in this world, you can’t be as good as the white children; you have to be twice as good.” He took this advice to heart.

Willie dreamed of becoming a professional golfer, but his accomplishments went far beyond playing the game of golf. Willie was often denied the opportunity to play golf because he was African American. Determined, he decided to build his own course, and welcome people of all color to play golf.

Babe Ruth Saves Baseball!
Written by Frank Murphy & illustrated by Richard Walz
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

All across the country in 1919, people are throwing down their bats, and giving up America’s national pastime, so it is up to Babe Ruth to win back fans and save baseball. Simultaneous.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Camping Trip That Changed America - Caldecott medalist Mordicai Gerstein captures the majestic redwoods of Yosemite in this little-known but important story from our nation’s history. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt joined naturalist John Muir on a trip to Yosemite. Camping by themselves in the uncharted woods, the two men saw sights and held discussions that would ultimately lead to the establishment of our National Parks.

  2. Harry Houdini (First Names #1) - Discover the man behind the magic and see how Houdini pulled off his most daring escapes Before Harry Houdini (1874-1926) became the greatest magician in the world, he was just little Ehrich Weisz, a Hungarian-born immigrant who moved to America with his family and performed stage tricks for a little extra cash. He started off with card tricks and then eventually began performing the escape acts that would make him famous. Known for his daring and death-defying illusions, he would do some of the greatest tricks ever: escaping from a milk can, being buried alive, and being locked inside a crate and thrown into a river. He conquered each of these seemingly impossible feats and showed the world the power of a little magic. Fun, fast-paced, and highly illustrated, Harry Houdini tells the story of the curious boy who became the world’s greatest magician and reveals how Houdini did some of his most stunning escapes. It includes a timeline, glossary, and index.

  3. Milton Hershey - Did you know that the man behind Hershey’s chocolate used to work in an ice cream parlor? Or that he had to try over and over again to get his now-famous chocolate to taste as delicious as it does today? Milton Hershey’s life wasn’t always a bowl of chocolate Kisses. When he was in fourth grade, he even had to drop out of school and work to help his poor family make ends meet. Read all about how the man we know as the famous young chocolatier finally struck it rich — in money, love, and chocolate!

  4. The Adventures of John Muir - Introduce your baby to the fascinating adventures of famous naturalist John Muir. John Muir was a Scottish-born American naturalist, author who became known as “Father of the National Parks.” Millions have read his letters, essays, and books of his adventures in nature, and his advocacy was essential in helping to preserve many beautiful parts of the West—especially Yosemite National Park. Kate Coombs’ enchanting poem and Seth Lucas’ adorable illustrations share Muir’s love of the Sierras, the Sequoias and Redwoods, and the birds and animals of the West with the next generation of little nature-lovers, fostering a life-long appreciation of the world around them. Kate Coombs has written several books for children, including the award winning poetry collection Water Sings Blue and most recently Goodnight Mr. Darcy. A former teacher of every grade from kindergarten through college, Kate makes her home in Utah. Seth Lucas is an illustrator and designer with a BFA in graphic design. He is the co-creator of Ello There Outdoors selling prints and accessories supporting the National Parks and outdoors. He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with his wife and daughter.

Books About 1900-1949 and New York

Rachel's Roses
Written by Ferida Wolff & illustrated by Margeaux Lucas
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Rachel Berger needs twenty-five cents to make her dream come true. But for Rachel, twenty-five cents is a fortune—and she’s running out of time. Third-grader Rachel Berger longs to be different. At the very least, she’d like to be set apart from her copycat little sister, Hannah. The second Rachel spots the glass rose buttons at Mr. Solomon’s button shop, her heart stops. They’ll be the perfect, unique touch on the skirt her mother is making her for Rosh Hashanah. There’s just one problem: Rachel can’t afford them. With her focus set on earning enough to buy them before the holiday, will Rachel lose sight of what’s really important? Themes of sisterhood, sibling rivalry, and strong family values are organically woven in to this charmingly illustrated chapter book set on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the early twentieth century.

Before the Devil Breaks You
Written by Libba Bray
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 15-99

The Diviners are back in this thrilling and eerie third installment by #1 New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray. New York City.1927.Lights are bright.Jazz is king.Parties are wild.And the dead are coming… After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that early claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough of lies. They’re more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward’s Island, far from the city’s bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten—ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows. With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over, and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them fact-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they’ve ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation—a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves. Heart-pounding action and terrifying moments will leave you breathless in the third book of the four-book Diviners series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray.

Sugar Hill
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford & illustrated by R Gregory Christie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Take a walk through Harlem’s Sugar Hill and meet all the amazing people who made this neighborhood legendary. With upbeat rhyming, read-aloud text, Sugar Hill celebrates the Harlem neighborhood that successful African Americans first called home during the 1920s. Children raised in Sugar Hill not only looked up to these achievers but also experienced art and culture at home, at church, and in the community. Books, music lessons, and art classes expanded their horizons beyond the narrow limits of segregation. Includes brief biographies of jazz greats Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Sonny Rollins, and Miles Davis; artists Aaron Douglas and Faith Ringgold; entertainers Lena Horne and the Nicholas Brothers; writer Zora Neale Hurston; civil rights leader W. E. B. DuBois and lawyer Thurgood Marshall.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Doll Shop Downstairs - Nine-year-old Anna and her sisters love to play with the dolls in their parents’ doll repair shop. But when World War I begins, an embargo on German-made goods-including the parts Papa needs to repair the dolls-threatens to put the family’s shop out of business. Fortunately, Anna has an idea that just might save the day. Inspired by the true story of Madame Alexander, this is a timeless tale of family and imagination. This beautiful gift edition of The Doll Shop Downstairs, featuring an eye-catching foil embossed cover, will make a perfect holiday present for dreamers and doll lovers everywhere.

  2. Harlem Hellfighters - They went by many names, but the world came to know them best as the Harlem Hellfighters. Two thousand strong, these black Americans from New York picked up brass instruments—under the leadership of famed bandleader and lieutenant James Reese Europe—to take the musical sound of Harlem into the heart of war. From the creators of the 2012 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award Honor Book, And the Soldiers Sang, this remarkable narrative nonfiction rendering of WWI — and American — history uses free-verse poetry and captivating art to tell century-old story of hellish combat, racist times, rare courage, and inspired music.

  3. When Everybody Wore a Hat - This is the story of when I was a boy, almost 100 years ago, when fire engines were pulled by horses, boys did not play with girls, kids went to libraries for books, there was no TV, you could see a movie for a nickel, and everybody wore a hat.

Want to see books about New York?

Books About 1900-1949 and 1920's

The Story Seeker
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Viviani Fedeler, proud resident of the New York Public Library, has set her sights on becoming a star reporter. She’s thrilled when Miss Hutch announces a story contest where the winner gets their essay printed in The New York Times!

But when it’s time to write, Viviani is out of stories. As she struggles to find inspiration, the library is struck with a string of mysterious disappearances. Rare medical texts keep vanishing off the shelves, nowhere to be found! Will Viviani be able to return the books to their rightful shelves and find the perfect story to impress the Times?

The Story Seeker delivers an unforgettable mystery adventure set in the iconic New York Public Library during the Roaring Twenties.

Ella's Big Chance: A Jazz-Age Cinderella
Written & illustrated by Shirley Hughes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The classic story of Cinderella gains even more charm in this glamorous retelling by world-famous picture book writer and illustrator Shirley Hughes. Ella Cinders loves helping her father in his dress shop and laughing with her friend Buttons, the store’s delivery boy. Then comes the terrible day when her father remarries and everything changes. Her stepmother makes her sew in the dreary basement. Her stepsisters mock her shabby dress. And to top it off, the new Mrs. Cinders forbids Ella to attend the duke’s grand ball. Heartbroken, Ella is sure that her life will never be what she dreamed. But with the help of a fairy godmother and some sparkling courage of her own, this Cinderella discovers that dreams can come true in the most unexpected of ways. Join Ella amidst the dazzle and fashion of the roaring twenties as she takes happily ever after into her own hands!

Balto and the Great Race
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Recounts how the sled dog Balto saved Nome, Alaska, in 1925 from a diphtheria epidemic by delivering medicine through a raging snowstorm. Simultaneous.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Esperanza Rising - Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth and privilege in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California, where they must adapt to the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers on the eve of the Great Depression.

  2. Lord of the Mountain - Nate’s family has a secret, and it’s wrapped up in a song. The problem is, his preacher father hates music, and when he catches Nate hanging around downtown Bristol with musicians like Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, he comes down hard on him. So Nate sets out in search of himself and the song he thinks will heal his family. Set during the “big bang” of country music in the late 1920s, Nate’s journey of self-discovery parallels that of a region finding its voice for the first time.

  3. The Story Collector - Eleven-year-old Viviani Fedeler grew up surrounded by books, but now she’s ready for her own story to begin. As thedaughter of the Library superintendent, Viviani has explored every nook, cranny, and room—except the ones her father keeps locked.When Viviani suspects that the Library is haunted, she decides to spook her friends and new girl Merit Mubarak with a harmless little prank. But what begins as a joke quickly gets out of hand. Soon Viviani and her friends have to solve two big mysteries: Is there really a ghost in the Library?And who stole the expensive stamp collection?

  4. Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze - When Young Fu arrives with his mother in bustling 1920s Chungking, all he has seen of the world is the rural farming village where he has grown up. He knows nothing of city life. But the city, with its wonders and dangers, fascinates the 13-year-old boy, and he sets out to make the best of what it has to offer him. First published in 1932, Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze was one of the earliest Newbery Medal winners. Although China has changed since that time, Young Fu’s experiences are universal: making friends, making mistakes, and making one’s way in the world.

Want to see books about 1920's?

Books About 1900-1949 and Historical Figures

I Am Gandhi
Written & illustrated by Brad Meltzer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

As a young man in India, Gandhi saw firsthand how people were treated unfairly. Refusing to accept injustice, he came up with a brilliant way to fight back through quiet, peaceful protest. He used his methods in South Africa and India, where he led a nonviolent revolution that freed his country from British rule. Through his calm, steady heroism, Gandhi changed the lives of millions and inspired civil rights movements all over the world, proving that the smallest of us can be the most powerful.

Who Was Anne Frank?
Written by Ann Abramson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Looks closely at Anne Frank’s life before the secret annex, what life was like in hiding from the Nazis, and the legacy of her diary.

I Am Albert Einstein
Written by Brad Meltzer & illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Presents the life of the world-renowned German scientist, describing how his life-long curiosity and ability to question accepted theories led him to develop his famous theory of relatvitiy and win the Noble Prize for Physics.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Who Was Babe Ruth - Just in time for baseball season! Babe Ruth came from a poor Baltimore family and, as a kid, he was a handful. It was at a reform school that Babe discovered his talent for baseball, and by the age of nineteen, he was on his way to becoming a sports legend. Babe was often out of shape and even more often out on the town, but he had a big heart and an even bigger swing! Kids will learn all about the Home Run King in this rags-to- riches sports biography. With black-and-white illustrations throughout, a true sports legend is brought to life.

  2. Lights! Camera! Alice! - Meet Alice Guy-Blaché. She made movies—some of the very first movies, and some of the most exciting! Blow up a pirate ship? Why not? Crawl into a tiger’s cage? Of course! Leap off a bridge onto a real speeding train? It will be easy! Driven by her passion for storytelling, Alice saw a potential for film that others had not seen before, allowing her to develop new narratives, new camera angles, new techniques, and to surprise her audiences again and again. With daring and vision, Alice Guy-Blaché introduced the world to a thrilling frontier of imagination and adventure, and became one of filmmaking’s first and greatest innovators. Mara Rockliff tells the story of a girl who grew up loving stories and became an acclaimed storyteller and an inspiration in her own right.

  3. Library on Wheels - If you can’t bring the man to the books, bring the books to the man. Mary Lemist Titcomb (1852-1932) was always looking for ways to improve her library. As librarian at the Washington County Free Library in Maryland, Titcomb was concerned that the library was not reaching all the people it could. She was determined that everyone should have access to the library—not just adults and those who lived in town. Realizing its limitations and inability to reach the county’s 25,000 rural residents, including farmers and their families, Titcomb set about to change the library system forever with the introduction of book-deposit stations throughout the country, a children’s room in the library, and her most revolutionary idea of all—a horse-drawn Book Wagon. Soon book wagons were appearing in other parts of the country, and by 1922, the book wagon idea had received widespread support. The bookmobile was born!

  4. Gandhi - Mohandas Gandhi’s 24-day March to the Sea, from March 12 to April 5, 1930, was a pivotal moment in India’s quest to become an independent country no longer ruled by Great Britain. With over 70 marchers, Gandhi walked from his hometown near Ahmedabab to the sea coast by the village of Dandi. The march was a non-violent means to protest the taxes that Great Britain had imposed on salt — not the salt that the Indians could get from the sea, but the salt that Great Britain forced them to buy. Gandhi believed that peaceful protests were an effective way to challenge British law, and his peaceful but ultimately successful movement became known as Satyagraha.

Books About 1900-1949 and Orphans

The War That Saved My Life
Written & illustrated by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A young disabled girl and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II, where they find life to be much sweeter away from their abusive mother.

The Orphan Band of Springdale
Written & illustrated by Anne Nesbet
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

With the United States on the verge of World War II, eleven-year-old Gusta is sent from New York City to Maine, where she discovers small-town prejudices — and a huge family secret. It’s 1941, and tensions are rising in the United States as the Second World War rages in Europe. Eleven-year-old Gusta’s life, like the world around her, is about to change. Her father, a foreign-born labor organizer, has had to flee the country, and Gusta has been sent to live in an orphanage run by her grandmother. Nearsighted, snaggletoothed Gusta arrives in Springdale, Maine, lugging her one precious possession: a beloved old French horn, her sole memento of her father. But in a family that’s long on troubles and short on money, how can a girl hang on to something so valuable and yet so useless when Gusta’s mill-worker uncle needs surgery to fix his mangled hand, with no union to help him pay? Inspired by her mother’s fanciful stories, Gusta secretly hopes to find the coin-like “Wish” that her sea-captain grandfather supposedly left hidden somewhere. Meanwhile, even as Gusta gets to know the rambunctious orphans at the home, she feels like an outsider at her new school — and finds herself facing patriotism turned to prejudice, alien registration drives, and a family secret likely to turn the small town upside down.

Annie
Written by Thomas Meehan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

It’s a hard-knock life for America’s favorite orphan! Everyone knows the story of the irrepressible Annie, who lives at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage until she beats the odds and finds a new life with the benevolent and wealthy Daddy Warbucks. Annie has enchanted millions of readers from her original comic strip appearance to the hit Broadway musical. Now, with a Tony-nominated revival playing on Broadway, Puffin is reissuing this novelization of the classic story, with a new introduction by Tony and Emmy Award-winning author Thomas Meehan. This is an adaptation that delves even deeper into Annie’s story, as she lives on the streets during the Great Depression, finds Sandy the dog, and encounters characters both familiar and new.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Mystery Ranch - Eccentric Aunt Jane needs help on her ranch. The Aldens overturn a plot against her.

  2. Dear America: Like the Willow Tree - Two-time Newbery Award-winning author Lois Lowry brings a brand-new, beautiful diary to the Dear America series! Suddenly orphaned by the Spanish flu epidemic in the fall of 1918, eleven-year-old Lydia Pierce and her fourteen-year-old brother, Daniel, of Portland, Maine, are taken by their uncle to be raised in the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake. Thrust into the Shakers’ unfamiliar way of life, Lydia must grapple with a new world that is nothing like the one she used to know. Now separated from her beloved brother, for men and women do not mix in this community, Lydia must adjust to many changes. But in time, and with her courageous spirit, she learns to find the joy in life again.

Want to see books about orphans?

Books About 1900-1949 and Places And Regions

Mountain Chef
Written by Annette Bay Pimentel & illustrated by Rich Lo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

The true story of a Chinese American mountain man who fed thirty people for ten days in the wilderness—and helped inspire the creation of the National Park Service. Tie Sing was born in the mountains. The mountains were in his blood. But because he was of Chinese descent at a time in America when to be Chinese meant working in restaurants or laundries, Tie Sing’s prospects were limited. But he had bigger plans. He began cooking for mapmakers and soon built a reputation as the best trail cook in California. When millionaire Stephen Mather began his quest to create a national park service in 1915, he invited a group of influential men—writers, tycoons, members of Congress, and even a movie star—to go camping in the Sierras. Tie Sing was hired to cook. Tie Sing planned diligently. He understood the importance of this trip. But when disaster struck—twice!—and Tie Sing’s supplies were lost, it was his creative spirit and quick mind that saved the day. His sumptuous menus had to be struck and Tie Sing had to start over in order to feed the thirty people in the group for ten whole days. His skills were tested and Tie Sing rose to the challenge. On the last night, he fed not just the campers’ bodies, but also their minds, reminding them to remember and protect the mountains. 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, created by Congress on August 25, 1916. Today, you can hike to Sing Peak, named for Tie Sing, in Yosemite National Park.

Barbed Wire Baseball
Written by Marissa Moss & illustrated by Yuko Shimizu
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Traces the childhood dream of Japanese-American baseball pioneer Kenichi Zenimura of playing professionally and his family’s struggles in a World War II internment camp where he introduces baseball to raise hope.

Mahatma Gandhi: My First Mahatma Gandhi
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

This board book version of _Mahatma Gandhi_—from the critically acclaimed, mulitimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to the incredible life of the father of India.

As a young teenager in India, Gandhi led a rebellious life and went against his parents’ values. But as a young man, he started to form beliefs of his own that harked back to the Hindu principles of his childhood. Gandhi began to dream of unity for all peoples and religions. Inspired by this idea, he led peaceful protests to free India from British rule and unite the country—ending violence and unfair treatment. His bravery and free-thinking made him one of the most iconic people of peace in the world, known as Mahatma, meaning “great soul.” Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this amazing activist, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own.

Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.

This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children.

Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

Honorable Mentions
  1. Carlos Santana - Discover the childhood story of Carlos Santana in Gary Golio’s “”Sound of the Heart, Song of the World””, featuring illustrations by Rudy Gutierrez, the internationally celebrated artist who created the iconic Santana “”Shaman”” CD cover. Carlos Santana grew up surrounded by music. His father, a beloved mariachi performer, teaches his son how to play the violin when he is only six years old. But when Carlos discovers American blues, he is captivated by the raw honesty of the music. Unable to think of anything else, he loses all interest in the violin. When Carlos finally receives his first guitar, his whole life begins to change. From his early exposure to mariachi to his successful fusing of rock, blues, jazz, and Latin influences, here is the childhood story of a legendary musician.

  2. The House of Sixty Fathers - Meindert DeJong is the winner of the 1954 Newbery Award for The Wheel on the School. The New York Herald Tribune praised this book for “its insight that stimulates the imagination and its clear beauty, like that of a Vermeer painting.” The scene of this latest book by Mr. DeJong is China, during the Japanese occupation. Young Tien Pao is alone on his family’s sampan when the boat breaks loose from its moorings and is caught by the rushing waters of the river. When the sampan finally lands, Tien Pao is in Japanese territory. With only his pig for company, he starts on the long and difficult journey back to Hengyang and his parents. The House of Sixty fathers could be the story of any child in any war.In his expressive pictures Maurice Sendak has caught the essence of TienPao and his faith, courage, and unwillingness to surrender his belief in the impossible. The House of Sixty Fathers isbased on Meindert DeJong’s actual experience, During World War 11 Mr. DeJong was official historian for the Chinese-American Composite Wing, which was part of Cbennault’s famous Fourteenth Air Force. A young Chinese war orphan, the Tien Pao of this story, was adopted by DeJong’s outfit. The boy chose DeJong as his special “father,” and the two were devoted to one another. Mr. DeJong wanted to bring the boy back to the United States with him, but because of legal complications he was unable to do so. However, the men in the outfit left the youngster well provided for when they returned to America. The Communists then took over that section of China, and DeJong has never heard what happened to the boy.

Books About 1900-1949 and Action And Adventure

Soldier Dogs #1: Air Raid Search and Rescue
Written by Marcus Sutter & illustrated by Pat Kinsella
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The paw-biting start to a thrilling new adventure series perfect for fans of Max and the I Survived books, inspired by the brave military dogs who helped our troops win World War II. When Matt’s older brother enlisted in the army, he left Matt his German Shepherd, Chief, a retired fire dog and the best pet EVER. So Matt isn’t happy when Chief starts paying attention to his foster sister Rachel instead of him. But when Nazi planes begin bombing the city, Matt finds himself in an impossible situation. Can he be a hero to his sister when it matters most? And when they get caught outside during the air raid, will Chief be there to save the day? This paper-over-board edition includes a collectible poster and a pull-out map!

Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus
Written by R. L. LaFevers & illustrated by Yoko Tanaka
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Being able to detect black magic isn’t all tea and crumpets—and for Theodosia Throckmorton, it can be a decidedly tricky business! When Sticky Will drags Theo to a magic show featuring the Great Awi Bubu, she quickly senses there is more to the magician than he lets on, setting in motion a chain of events she never could have bargained for.

Meanwhile, back at the Museum of Legends and Antiquities, Henry is home for the spring holidays and makes an accidental discovery of an artifact that alchemists have been hunting for centuries. Soon, every black-cloaked occultist in London is trying to get their hands on it . . .

Tonight on the Titanic
Written by Mary Pope Osborne & illustrated by Sal Murdocca
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Titanic trouble! Jack and Annie are in for an exciting, scary, and sad adventure when the Magic Tree House whisks them back to the decks of the Titanic. Is there anything they can do to help the ill-fated ship? Will they be able to save anyone? Will they be able to save themselves?

Honorable Mentions
  1. Under the Ashes - Eleven-year-old Elizabeth “Littlebeth” Morgan would rather race the boys, chase skunks, and read about bandits than act like a lady. So her parents send her to her maiden aunt in San Francisco to be tamed and refined. But when an earthquake hits and she’s separated from her aunt, Littlebeth must use her fearless nature and quick-thinking to survive in a city that’s broken and burning.

  2. A Whale in Paris - A hopeful and heroic girl befriends a small, lost whale during World War II and together they embark on a journey to liberate France and find their families in this charming debut novel.

  3. Art Of The Swap - Freaky Friday meets Downton Abbey in this middle grade mystery that features a modern day twelve-year-old switching bodies with a Gilded Age heiress in order to solve a famous art heist. Hannah Jordan lives in a museum…well, sort of. She is the daughter of the caretaker for mansion-turned-museum The Elms in Newport, Rhode Island. Hannah’s captivated by stories of The Elms’s original occupants, especially Maggie Dunlap, the tween heiress subject of a painting that went missing during a legendary art heist in 1905. But when a mysterious mirror allows Hannah and Maggie to switch places in time, suddenly Hannah is racing to stop the heist from happening, while Maggie gets an introduction to iPhones, soccer (which girls can play!), and freedoms like exploring without supervision. Not to mention the best invention of all: sweatpants (so long, corsets!). As the hours tick away toward the art heist, something’s not adding up. Can the girls work together against time—and across it—to set things right? Or will their temporary swap become a permanent trade?

Books About 1900-1949 and World War I

The Whispering Town
Written by Jennifer Elvgren & illustrated by Fabio Santomauro
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-9

The dramatic story of neighbors in a small Danish fishing village who, during the Holocaust, shelter a Jewish family waiting to be ferried to safety in Sweden. It is 1943 in Nazi-occupied Denmark. Anett and her parents are hiding a Jewish woman and her son, Carl, in their cellar until a fishing boat can take them across the sound to neutral Sweden. The soldiers patrolling their street are growing suspicious, so Carl and his mama must make their way to the harbor despite a cloudy sky with no moon to guide them. Worried about their safety, Anett devises a clever and unusual plan for their safe passage to the harbor. Based on a true story.

The Unbreakable Zamperini
Written & illustrated by Nel Yomtov
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-14

In the 1930s Louis Zamperini was a promising Olympic track athlete. But when World War II broke out, he enlisted and served as a bombardier with the U.S. Army Air Corps. In 1943 Zamperini miraculously survived when his bomber crashed in the Pacific Ocean. But that was just the beginning of his ordeal. After surviving for more than six weeks on a raft at sea, he was captured by Japanese forces and sent to a POW camp. For the next two years Zamperini endured brutal treatment at the hands of the Japanese officer who chose to make an example of him. But no matter how horrible things things became, Zamp refused to be broken. Learn all about Louis Zamperini and his unbreakable spirit as a prisoner of war in World War II.

Aim
Written & illustrated by Joyce Moyer Hostetter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

As World War II threatens the United States in 1941, fourteen-year-old Junior Bledsoe fights his own battles at home. Junior struggles with school and with anger—at his father, his insufferable granddaddy, his neighbors, and himself—as he desperately tries to understand himself and find his own aim in life. But he finds relief in escaping to the quiet of the nearby woods and tinkering with cars, something he learned from his Pop, and a fatherly neighbor provides much-needed guidance. This heartfelt and inspiring prequel to the author’sBlue andComfort also includes an author’s note and bibliography.

Honorable Mentions
  1. War Boy: A Country Childhood - The author, an illustrator of children’s books, recounts his childhood experiences growing up on the east coast of England during World War II

  2. My Chocolate Year - In 1945 Chicago, as her Jewish family anxiously awaits news of relatives left behind in Europe, ten-year-old Dorrie learns new recipes in the hope of winning a baking competition at school. Includes recipes for various foods, from chocolate pudding to chocolate mandelbread.

Books About 1900-1949 and Family Life

A Prickly Problem: Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet
Written by Jacqueline Kelly
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

In this story in the Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet chapter book series, Callie must help the family dog out of a prickly situation. When the Tate family dog, Ajax, has a run-in with a porcupine, things get prickly—and dangerous—quickly. It’ll take Callie’s quick thinking and doctoring, along with a little help from Dr. Pritzker, to make things right. Will Ajax learn to leave other critters alone? - GODWIN BOOKS -

Sweet Home Alaska
Written by Carole Estby Dagg
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-10

In 1934, eleven-year-old Trip’s father signs up for President Roosevelt’s Palmer Colony project, uprooting the family from Wisconsin to become pioneers in Alaska, where Terpsichore refuses to let rough conditions and first impressions get in the way of her grand adventure.

Counting Sheep: Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet
Written & illustrated by Jacqueline Kelly
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

In rural Texas in 1901, thirteen-year-old Callie nurses a butterfly with a broken wing and delivers a baby lamb, despite her mother’s disapproval of Callie’s “unladylike behavior.”

Honorable Mentions
  1. Who Gives a Hoot?: Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet - Calpurnia and her grandfather rescue a barn owl from the river and, with the help of Dr. Pritzker, dead mice, and some detective work, nurse it back to health.

  2. Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos - Theodosia Throckmorton has her hands full at the Museum of Legends and Antiquities in London. Her father may be head curator, but it is Theo—and only Theo—who is able to see all the black magic and ancient curses that still cling to the artifacts in the museum. When Theo’s mother returns from her latest archaeological dig bearing the Heart of Egypt—a legendary amulet belonging to an ancient tomb—Theo learns that it comes inscribed with a curse so black and vile that it threatens to crumble the British Empire from within and start a war too terrible to imagine. Intent on returning the malevolent artifact to its rightful place, Theo devises a daring plan to put things right. But even with the help of her younger brother, a wily street urchin, and the secret society known as the Brotherhood of the Chosen Keepers, it won’t be easy . . . she quickly finds herself pursued down dark alleys, across an ocean, through the bustling crowds of Cairo, and straight into the heart of an ancient mystery. Theo will have to call upon everything she’s ever learned in order to prevent the rising chaos from destroying her country—and herself!

  3. Anna All Year Round - Eight-year-old Anna enjoys one exciting experience after another in this charming story set in Baltimore just before World War I. She gets a new winter coat that’s even better than Rosa’s, rollerskates down the steepest hill in the neighborhood, and rides the trolley all by herself. And she delights in the changes occurring in the world around her, as motorcars and electric lights appear for the first time on her street. Based on the childhood experiences of the author’s mother, these heartwarming episodes touch on timeless themes of family, friends, and the wonders of growing up.

  4. Skunked!: Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet - “When Travis discovers an abandoned baby skunk, he can’t help but bring it home and take care of it. Stinky, as Travis names him, settles in pretty well. But when Travis discovers Stinky’s litter-mate, Winky, who is in need of some help, things get complicated around the Tate house”—

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