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1930's: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about 1930's?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to 1930’s. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about 1930’s.

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. 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.

When it comes to children’s stories about 1930’s, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Bud, Not Buddy to popular sellers like The Invention of Hugo Cabret to some of our favorite hidden gems like Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

We hope this list of kids books about 1930’s 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.

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.

Joltin' Joe DiMaggio
Written by Jonah Winter & illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Bestselling author Jonah Winter and award-winning illustrator James E. Ransome knock it out of the park with this tribute to one of the greatest baseball players who ever lived, Joe DiMaggio. In the golden age of baseball, sports announcers ruled the radio, winning and losing was front-page news, and just about every young boy wanted to grow up to wear Yankee pinstripes, including Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio, Jr., a first generation Italian from San Francisco. “Baseball is not a job,” said young Joe’s dad, but through hard work and dedication, Joe grew up to make headlines as a top centerfielder and ace hitter—Joltin’ Joe, the Yankee Clipper. And when the paychecks started rolling in and the newspaper reporters wouldn’t stop calling, you can bet Pop was mighty proud! During the Depression and WWII the country needed something to cheer for, and Joe was the star player who outshone the rest, even marrying movie star Marilyn Monroe—all by keeping his mouth shut and his eye on the ball.

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

Sweet Land of Liberty
Written by Deborah Hopkinson & illustrated by Leonard Jenkins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This inspiring story of little-known civil rights champion Oscar Chapman reminds readers that one person can truly make a difference. On Easter Sunday 1939, Marian Anderson performed at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial for a crowd of over 75,000 people. The person largely responsible for putting her there was a white man, Oscar Chapman. When Chapman learned that Marian Anderson was not allowed to sing at Constitution Hall because of the color of her skin, Chapman helped produce a landmark concert that?for at least one evening?bridged the color divide to bring a city and much of the nation together. Award-winning author Deborah Hopkinson tells the inspirational story of Oscar Chapman’s lifelong commitment to ending bigotry. Illustrator Leonard Jenkins’s remarkable illustrations recreate a bygone era and pay tribute to remarkable real-life people and a magical moment in modern history. An author’s note provides additional historical context.

  • It Rained Warm Bread - 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.

  • A Picture Book of Jesse Owens - A comprehensive look at the life of the man who has often been called the World’s Fastest Human. Jesse Owens was born on a farm to a large family with many siblings. His grandparents had been slaves, and his sharecropper parents were poor. But against all odds, Jesse went on to become one of the greatest athletes in history. He learned to run with such grace that people said he was a “floating wonder.” After setting multiple world records as a college athlete, Jesse competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Adolf Hitler intended for the games to display Aryan superiority, but Jesse disrupted that plan. He became the first American track-and-field athlete to receive four gold medals, and established his legacy as a hero in the face of prejudice. This child friendly entry in David A. Adler’s well-known series contains an accessible mix of biography, facts, and history supported with lifelike illustrations. Back matter includes an author’s note and a timeline.

  • That Book Woman - Offers the story of the Pack Horse Librarian who traveled to remote regions throughout the United States during the Depression to deliver books and a stubborn boy who refused to give reading a try. 50,000 first printing.

  • Anne Frank (Little Guides to Great Lives) - Anne Frank was an ordinary girl living in extraordinary times. Forced to go into hiding to escape the Nazis’ persecution of Jews in World War II, Anne kept a diary that would become one of the most famous books in the world. Meet one of history’s most inspiring figures in this beautifully-illustrated guide to her amazing life. 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.

Al Capone Does My Shirts
Written & illustrated by Gennifer Choldenko
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

A twelve-year-old boy named Moose moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935 when guards’ families were housed there, and has to contend with his extraordinary new environment in addition to life with his autistic sister Natalie. A Newbery Honor Book & ALA Notable Book. Reprint. Jr Lib Guild & Children’s BOMC.

Ice Breaker
Written by Rose Viña & illustrated by Claire Almon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

In the 1930s, only white figure skaters were allowed in public ice rinks and to compete for gold medals, but Mabel Fairbanks wouldn’t let that stop her. With skates two sizes too big and a heart full of dreams, Mabel beat the odds and broke down color barriers through sheer determination and athletic skill. After skating in ice shows across the nation and helping coach and develop the talents of several Olympic champions, Mabel became the first African-American woman to be inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

Goodbye, Mr. Spalding
Written & illustrated by Jennifer Robin Barr
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Set in Philadelphia during the Great Depression, this middle-grade historical novel tells the story of a twelve-year-old boy and his best friend as they attempt to stop a wall from being built at Shibe Park, home of the Philadelphia Athletics, that would block the view of the baseball field from their rooftops. In 1930s Philadelphia, twelve-year-old Jimmy Frank and his best friend Lola live across the street from Shibe Park, home of the Philadelphia Athletics baseball team. Their families and others on the street make extra money by selling tickets to bleachers on their flat rooftops, which have a perfect view of the field. However, falling ticket sales at the park prompt the manager and park owner to decide to build a wall that will block the view. Jimmy and Lola come up with a variety of ways to prevent the wall from being built, knowing that not only will they miss the view, but their families will be impacted from the loss of income. As Jimmy becomes more and more desperate to save their view, his dubious plans create a rift between him and Lola, and he must work to repair their friendship.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Written by Brian Selznick
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

Gandhi
Written by Alice B. McGinty & illustrated by Thomas Gonzales
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

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.

  • Al Capone Does My Homework - Alcatraz Island in the 1930s isn’t the most normal place to grow up, but it’s home for Moose Flanagan, his autistic sister, Natalie, and all the families of the guards. When Moose’s dad gets promoted to Associate Warden, despite being an unlikely candidate, it’s a big deal. But the cons have a point system for targeting prison employees, and his dad is now in serious danger. After a fire starts in the Flanagan’s apartment, Natalie is blamed, and Moose bands with the other kids to track down the possible arsonist. Then Moose gets a cryptic note from the notorious Al Capone himself. Is Capone trying to protect Moose’s dad too? If Moose can’t figure out what Capone’s note means, it may be too late.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

A Long Way from Chicago
Written by Richard Peck
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

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

Hoodoo
Written & illustrated by Ronald L. Smith
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-12

Winner of the 2016 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher was born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic: hoodoo, as most people call it. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can’t seem to cast a simple spell. When a mysterious man called the Stranger comes to town, Hoodoo starts dreaming of the dead rising from their graves. Even worse, he soon learns the Stranger is looking for a boy. Not just any boy. A boy named Hoodoo. The entire town is at risk from the Stranger’s black magic, and only Hoodoo can defeat him. He’ll just need to learn how to conjure first. Set amid the swamps, red soil, and sweltering heat of small town Alabama in the 1930s, Hoodoo is infused with a big dose of creepiness leavened with gentle humor.

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