Best Kids Books About America

55 Kids Books About America

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
Catching Kisses book
#1
Catching Kisses
Written by Amy Gibson and illustrated by Maria van Lieshout
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

At any given moment/someone, somewhere is blowing a kiss. And somewhere/someone/is catching it. So begins this journey of the heart, as readers young and old follow a handful of kisses around the United States. From San Francisco to New Orleans to New York City, the text and stylized artwork celebrate all the ways kisses are shared.

Maya Angelou book
#2
Maya Angelou
Written by Lisbeth Kaiser and illustrated by Leire Salaberria
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the lives of outstanding people 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. The book follows Maya Angelou, from her early traumatic childhood to her time as a singer, actress, civil rights campaigner and, eventually, one of America's most beloved writers. This inspiring and informative little biography comes with extra facts about Maya's life at the back.

Thomas Jefferson and the Mammoth Hunt book
#3
Thomas Jefferson and the Mammoth Hunt
Written by Carrie Clickard and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In this rhyming, hilarious romp about a little-known facet of American history, Thomas Jefferson tries to disprove a French theory that those in the New World are puny and wussy by going in search of mammoth bones. In the New World called America big changes were a’brewing. Independence was declared with bold hurrahs and ballyhooing! The French feel threatened by America’s new freedom and confidence, as embodied by Count Buffon who claims that the “New World was a chilly, swampy place, filled with puny, scrawny creatures, every species, breed, and race.” Thomas Jefferson won’t stand his young country being insulted, so he sets out to prove Count Buffon wrong. He sends people across the country in search of an animal or animal bones to prove that creatures in the United States are big and strong and worthy. Hilarious, energetic, and a delight to read aloud, this book shines a light on this little-known slice of American history. Included in the back matter are an author’s note, who’s who and what’s what from American history, bibliography, and further reading.

Barnum's Bones book
#4
Barnum's Bones
Written by Tracey Fern and illustrated by Boris Kulikov
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Documents the work of an early 20th-century paleontologist, named after the famous circus icon by his ambitious parents, who grew up to work for the American Museum of Natural History and discovered the first documented skeletons of the Tyrannosaurus Rex and other noteworthy species. By the author of Pippo the Fool.

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

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

A Woman in the House (and Senate) book
#6
A Woman in the House (and Senate)
Written and illustrated by Ilene Cooper
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A chronicle of women's contributions to politics in the United States traces the period between the women's suffrage movement and the 2012 election, and includes portraits of such luminaries as Hattie Caraway, Patsy Mink, and Shirley Chisholm.

And Then what Happened, Paul Revere? book
#7
And Then what Happened, Paul Revere?
Written by Jean Fritz and illustrated by Margot Tomes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-9

A true American story for young readers by the Newbery-Honor winning author! Everyone knows about Paul Revere’s midnight ride. But not everyone knows the harrowing details and narrow escapes that occurred along the way. This timeless and witty book highlights little-known facts about patriot Paul Revere.

So You Want to be President? book
#8
So You Want to be President?
Written by Judith St. George and illustrated by David Small
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

This new version of the Caldecott-winning classic by illustrator David Small and author Judith St. George is updated with current facts and new illustrations to include our forty-second president, George W. Bush. There are now three Georges in the catalog of presidential names, a Bush alongside the presidential family tree, and a new face on the endpaper portraiture. Hilariously illustrated by Small, this celebration by St. George shows us the foibles, quirks and humanity of forty-two men who have risen to one of the most powerful positions in the world. Perfect for this election year–and every year!

Elizabeth Warren book
#9
Elizabeth Warren
Written by Susan Wood and illustrated by Sarah Green
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

"This picture book biography will outline the incredible history of Elizabeth Warren, the first female senator from Massachusetts. Elizabeth came from a struggling middle-class family in Oklahoma City. After a heart attack put Elizabeth's father out of work, Elizabeth helped out by babysitting, waitressing, and sewing dresses, all while skipping a grade and shining in her school's debate team. Debate taught Elizabeth how to fight with her words, a skill that eventually won her a state championship and a college scholarship. As a lawyer and law professor, Elizabeth learned why it was so difficult for working-class families like her own to advance economically, and today she continues to fight (with her words) for the poor and middle-class in her role as a politician. The text focuses on the importance of being outspoken--of fighting with words both for yourself and for those that need your help. The backmatter will include an author's note and resources list. Nevertheless, She Persisted is sure to appeal to members of the "resist-erhood" looking for stories of strong female leaders"--

Smart about the Presidents book
#10
Smart about the Presidents
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Kids will love discovering the floor plan of the White House, a list of presidential perks, and lots of interesting info about all the presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama. (Did you know he is the only president born in Hawaii?) Each page is jam-packed with trivia, fun facts, and information on the historical events of each presidency.

Looking at Lincoln book
#11
Looking at Lincoln
Written and illustrated by Maira Kalman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Abraham Lincoln is one of the first giants of history children are introduced to, and now Maira Kalman brings him to life with her trademark style and enthusiasm. Lincoln’s legacy is everywhere – there he is on your penny and five-dollar bill. And we are still the United States because Lincoln helped hold them together. But who was he, really? The little girl in this book wants to find out. Among the many other things, she discovers our sixteenth president was a man who believed in freedom for all, had a dog named Fido, loved Mozart, apples, and his wife’s vanilla cake, and kept his notes in his hat. From his boyhood in a log cabin to his famous presidency and untimely death, Kalman shares Lincoln’s remarkable life with young readers in a fresh and exciting way.

L Is for Liberty book
#12
L Is for Liberty
Written by Wendy Cheyette Lewison and illustrated by Laura Hines
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

For more than a century, the Statue of Liberty has stood proudly in New York Harbor, welcoming people from near and far. Perfect for reading together with a young child, L Is for Liberty uses simple language and bold illustrations to celebrate the statue, her history, and the freedom she stands for.

In the New World book
#13
In the New World
Written and illustrated by Christa Holtei
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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

George Did It book
#14
George Did It
Written by Suzanne Jurmain and illustrated by Larry Day
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Everyone wanted George Washington to be the president. He was responsible, led the army in a fight against the British, and helped write the Constitution. But being the president is a very important job, and George was too nervous. So, to everyone’s surprise, he said no! However, George had many supporters, and with the help of the cheering crowds and loyal advisers and dignitaries, George realized that he didn’t have time to think about how nervous he was, he just had to do his job. With little-known facts and a bit of humor, Suzanne Tripp Jurmain gives readers a glimpse into the more personal side of the first president of the United States.

Hannah Is My Name book
#15
Hannah Is My Name
Written and illustrated by Belle Yang
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

"Based on her own immigration story, Yang’s offering is a winner — a spot-on depiction of the immigration experience in America." — KIRKUS REVIEWS It’s a long way from Taiwan to San Francisco, but Hannah’s family has made the journey because they want to make America their home. In America, Baba tells his daughter, people are free to say what they think, and children can grow up to be whatever they choose. As Hannah takes a new name, starts a new school, learns a new language, and adjusts to a new way of life, they all wait — and hope — for the arrival of the green cards that will assure they are finally home to stay.

Thomas Jefferson book
#16
Thomas Jefferson
Written and illustrated by Maira Kalman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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

The Camping Trip That Changed America book
#17
The Camping Trip That Changed America
Written by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Mordecai Gerstein
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

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.

Ben's Revolution book
#18
Ben's Revolution
Written by Nathaniel Philbrick and illustrated by Wendell Minor
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-9

History comes alive in this gripping account of a young boy caught up in the start of the Revolutionary War. Based on an episode in National Book Award–winning author Nathaniel Philbrick’s New York Times bestseller Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution, this engrossing story allows readers to experience history from a child’s perspective, and Wendell Minor’s stunning paintings will transport readers back to the early days of the Revolutionary War. Benjamin Russell is in school on the morning of April 19th, 1775, when his teacher announces, “The war’s begun, and you may run!” Ben knew this day was coming; after all, tensions had been mounting between the colonists and the British troops ever since the Boston Tea Party. And now they have finally reached the breaking point. Ben and his friends excitedly rush out of their classroom to bear witness, and follow the throngs of redcoats marching out of Boston toward Concord. Much to Ben’s surprise, Boston is sealed off later that day—leaving the boys stuck outside the city, in the middle of a war, with no way to reach their families. But Ben isn’t worried—he’s eager to help the Patriots! He soon becomes a clerk to the jovial Israel Putnam, a general in the provincial army. For months he watches the militia grow into an organized army, and when the Battle of Bunker Hill erupts, Ben is awed by the bravery of the Patriots, although saddened by the toll war takes. He later goes on to become an apprentice at a Revolutionary newspaper, and it’s a happy day when they get to report on the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Electric Ben book
#19
Electric Ben
Written and illustrated by Robert Byrd
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A true Renaissance man, Benjamin Franklin was the first American celebrity. In pictures and text, master artist Robert Byrd documents Franklin’s numerous and diverse accomplishments, from framing the Constitution to creating bifocals. The witty, wise, and endlessly curious Franklin is the perfect subject for Byrd’s lively style and vibrant art. The pages pulse with facts, quotes, and captions, while the inventive design and intricately detailed illustrations make a striking tribute to the brilliant American.

Blue Sky White Stars book
#20
Blue Sky White Stars
Written by Sarvinder Naberhaus and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

An inspiring and patriotic tribute to the beauty of the American flag, a symbol of America’s history, landscape, and people, illustrated by New York Times bestselling and Caldecott-honor winning artist Kadir Nelson Wonderfully spare, deceptively simple verses pair with richly evocative paintings to celebrate the iconic imagery of our nation, beginning with the American flag. Each spread, sumptuously illustrated by award-winning artist Kadir Nelson, depicts a stirring tableau, from the view of the Statue of Library at Ellis Island to civil rights marchers shoulder to shoulder, to a spacecraft at Cape Canaveral blasting off. This book is an ode to America then and now, from sea to shining sea.

Mr. Men: Road Trip! book
#21
Mr. Men: Road Trip!
Written by Adam Hargreaves
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Hit the road with the Mr. Men Little Miss crew and get ready to laugh your way across the USA! The Mr. Men Little Miss crew is traveling across America on a road trip that has something for everyone, from Niagara Falls to the Grand Canyon to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. With visits to the biggest and most famous sights–like the Statue of Liberty, the Gateway Arch, and the Golden Gate Bridge–this team is sure to have an adventure anywhere they go!

Long May She Wave book
#22
Long May She Wave
Written by Kristen Fulton and illustrated by Holly Berry
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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

My Story, My Dance book
#23
My Story, My Dance
Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

A boy discovers his passion for dance and becomes a modern hero in this inspiring picture book biography of Robert Battle, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. When Robert Battle was a boy wearing leg braces, he never dreamed he’d study at Juilliard. Though most dancers begin training at an early age, it wasn’t until Robert was a teenager that his appreciation for movement—first from martial arts, then for ballet—became his passion. But support from his family and teachers paired with his desire and determination made it possible for Robert to excel. After years of hard work, the young man who was so inspired by a performance of Alvin Ailey’s Revelations became the artistic director of the very company that motivated him. Today, under Robert’s leadership, Alvin Ailey continues to represent the African American spirit through dance. Featuring illustrations brimming with vibrant color and swirling motion, this biographical picture book from husband-and-wife team James Ransome and Lisa Cline-Ransome includes a foreword from Robert Battle himself as well as a bibliography, suggested further reading, and an author’s note. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was founded in 1958 by choreographer Alvin Ailey. He envisioned a company dedicated to enriching the American modern dance heritage and preserving the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience. When Mr. Ailey began creating dances, he drew upon his “blood memories” of his home state of Texas, the blues, spirituals, and gospel inspiration, which resulted in the creation of his most popular and critically acclaimed work, Revelations. Since its founding, the company has performed in seventy-one countries on six continents. It’s repertory includes works by Mr. Ailey and ninety other choreographers, and new works are commissioned each year. Judith Jamison succeeded Mr. Ailey as artistic director, and in 2011, she selected Robert Battle to be her successor. Learn more at AlvinAiley.org.

The Little Pioneer book
#24
The Little Pioneer
Written and illustrated by Adam Hancher
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Perfect for fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, this picture book about one little girl’s journey westward is engaging and appropriate for younger readers. Children of all ages will be captivated by one brave girl’s adventures come to life as she relates the challenges, excitement, and dangers of the American frontier. Filled with drama and gorgeous, evocative illustrations, this first-person tale is a testament to the determination, solidarity, and courage of the early pioneers, each chasing their own American Dream.

F Is for Flag book
#25
F Is for Flag
Written by Wendy Lewison and illustrated by Barbara Duke
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

June 14 is Flag Day, but with so many American flags proudly displayed, every day seems like Flag Day. Perfect for reading together with a young child, F Is for Flag shows in simple terms how one flag can mean many things: a symbol of unity, a sign of welcome, and a reminder that-in good times and in bad-everyone in our country is part of one great big family.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.