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Historical Fiction: Books For Kids

This list of the best kids books about historical fiction is sure to include a new favorite for the voracious young reader in your life! From I Am Rosa Parks to How Sweet the Sound there's something here for everyone's tastes. Do you have a favorite book about historical fiction? Let us know!

I Am Rosa Parks book
#1
I Am Rosa Parks
Written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Recounts Rosa Parks' daring effort to stand up for herself and other African Americans by helping to end segregation on public transportation.

Maccabee!: The Story of Hanukkah book
#2
Maccabee!: The Story of Hanukkah
Written by Tilda Balsley and illustrated by David Harrington
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Judah and the little army of Maccabees fight to free Jerusalem from the cruel King Antiochus in this vibrant and action-filled rhyming version of the famous Hanukkah story.

I Am Abraham Lincoln book
#3
I Am Abraham Lincoln
Written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Follows Abraham Lincoln from his childhood to the presidency, showing how he spoke up about fairness and eventually led the country to abolish slavery.

Library on Wheels book
#4
Library on Wheels
Written and illustrated by Sharlee Glenn
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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!

Stonewall book
#5
Stonewall
Written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Jamey Christoph
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising with the very first picture book to tell of its historic and inspiring role in the gay civil rights movement. From Rob Sanders, author of the acclaimed Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, comes this powerful and timeless true story that will allow young readers to discover the rich and dynamic history of the Stonewall Inn and its role in the gay civil rights movement--a movement that continues to this very day. In the early-morning hours of June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn was raided by police in New York City. Though the inn had been raided before, that night would be different. It would be the night when empowered members of the LGBTQ+ community--in and around the Stonewall Inn--began to protest and demand their equal rights as citizens of the United States. Movingly narrated by the Stonewall Inn itself, and featuring stirring and dynamic illustrations, Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution is an essential and empowering civil rights story that every child deserves to hear.

  1. A Royal Ride - Join Catherine the Great on a fun-filled ride as she schemes to invent the roller coaster in this inventive, STEM-based nonfiction picture book! Empress Catherine the Great, Queen of Russia loved her country, especially the snowy winters. Giant ice slides meant daring drops and thrilling rides for all! But every spring, warm weather melted the snow and the slides. What could Catherine the Great do to ensure fun all year round? With some ingenuity and some royal thinking, Catherine the Great would create her greatest invention!

  2. 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.

  3. Nevers - Resourceful fourteen-year-old Odette is on the move again, traveling as a stowaway on a cheese cart with her hapless mother, Anneline. They are in Burgundy, France, in 1799, fleeing yet another calamity caused by Anneline (who is prone to killing people accidentally). At dawn they find themselves in a town called Nevers, which is filled with eccentric characters, including a man who obsessively smells hands, another who dreams of becoming a chicken, and a donkey that keeps the town awake at night, braying about his narrow life. As Odette establishes a home in an abandoned guardhouse, she makes a friend in the relaxed Nicois and finds work as a midwife’s assistant. She and Nicois uncover a mystery that may lead to riches and, more important for Odette, a sense of belonging.

  4. Lost Boys - Based on historical events, this unforgettable and inspiring tale for middle-grade readers is about a young boy torn from the only life he’s ever known and held captive as a prisoner of war. In 1982, twelve-year-old Reza has no interest in joining Iran’s war effort. But in the wake of a tragedy and at his mother’s urging, he decides to enlist, assured by the authorities that he will achieve paradise should he die in service to his country. War does not bring the glory the boys of Iran have been promised, and Reza soon finds himself held in a prisoner-of-war camp in Iraq, where the guards not only threaten violence—they act upon it. Will Reza make it out alive? And if he does, will he even have a home to return to? In this unforgettable tale of friendship and survival against the odds, Reza finds solace through music and forges his own path, wherever that might take him. Lost Boys is a stunning debut from Darcey Rosenblatt. It is perfect for readers interested in current events, history, and the Middle East. Praise for Lost Boys: “In Rosenblatt’s ambitious debut novel, Reza, a 12-year-old Iranian boy, clings to friendship and his love of music as the Iran-Iraq War tears his world apart. . . . Reza’s story is compelling . . . .” —Kirkus Reviews “This hard-hitting first novel opens in Iran in 1982 during the Ayatollah Khomeini’s oppressive rule and that nation’s war with Iraq. . . . The larger political context becomes personal when a devastating public rejection of Reza and his fellow survivors by Iran leaves the boys without a country. . . . [T]he resilience of Rosenblatt’s protagonist strikes a strong chord.” —Publishers Weekly

The Rhino in Right Field book
#10
The Rhino in Right Field
Written and illustrated by Stacy DeKeyser
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A boy who loves baseball must get past his hard-working immigrant parents—and the rhino in the outfield—to become a batboy in this laugh-out-loud middle-grade novel in the tradition of The Sandlot.

Stella by Starlight book
#11
Stella by Starlight
Written and illustrated by Sharon Draper
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

When a burning cross set by the Klan causes panic and fear in 1932 Bumblebee, North Carolina, fifth-grader Stella must face prejudice and find the strength to demand change in her segregated town.

Jefferson's Sons book
#12
Jefferson's Sons
Written and illustrated by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A fictionalized look at the last twenty years of Thomas Jefferson's life at Monticello through the eyes of three of his slaves, two of whom were his sons by his slave, Sally Hemings.

Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite book
#13
Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite
Written by Anna Harwell Celenza and illustrated by Don Tate
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

It's a challenge to transform the "Nutcracker Suite's" romantic orchestra into jumpin' jazz melodies, but that's exactly what Duke Ellington and his collaborator, Billy Strayhorn, did. Ellington's band memebers were not so sure that a classical ballet could become a cool-cat jazz number. But Duke and Billy, inspired by their travels and by musical styles past and present, infused the composition with Vegas glitz, Hollywood glamour, and even a little New York jazz. CD recording of the Ellington/Strayhorn composition included.

The Liberation of Gabriel King book
#14
The Liberation of Gabriel King
Written and illustrated by K. L. Going
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-14

Gabriel King was a born chicken. He’s afraid of spiders, corpses, loose cows, and just about everything related to the fifth grade. Gabe’s best friend, Frita Wilson, thinks Gabe needs some liberating from his fears. Frita knows something about being brave— she’s the only black kid in school in a town with an active Ku Klux Klan. Together Gabe and Frita are going to spend the summer of 1976 facing down the fears on Gabe’s list. But it turns out that Frita has her own list, and while she’s helping Gabe confront his fears, she’s avoiding the thing that scares her the most.

  1. Who Wants to Be a Princess? - "A comparison of the life of a fairy tale princess vs. that of a real medieval princess"--

  2. 42 Is Not Just a Number The Odyssey of Jackie Robinson, American Hero - Jackie Robinson’s athletic talents would have easily landed another man a career in pro sports, but such opportunities were closed to athletes like Jackie for one reason: his skin was the wrong color. Jackie settled for playing baseball in the Negro Leagues until 1946, when the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers recruited him for a position that would cause him to face cruel and sometimes violent hatred and discrimination: Jackie Robinson was going to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball. In this compelling biography, award-winning author Doreen Rappaport chronicles the extraordinary life of Jackie Robinson and how his achievements won over—and changed—a segregated nation.

  3. The Long Way Home - Henry Whiskers and his cousin, Jeremy, must find their way back home—Queen Mary’s dollhouse—and to Windsor Castle with the help of a mysterious treasure map in this fun, fast-paced follow up to The Adventures of Henry Whiskers. Little Henry Whiskers is thrilled when he discovers an old, crinkly map, complete with a giant X marking a spot, full of treasure—at least, that’s what Henry thinks. All he knows is that this map is something BIG—he can feel it right down to the tip of his tail. But before he can share his exciting find with his cousin and best friend, Jeremy, they find themselves in the danger zone: The Windsor Castle Kitchen. And after being unceremoniously caught and thrown out of the castle, with nothing but the map, the two little mice realize they have bigger problems than being caught in the kitchen! How will they get back to the dollhouse? With the help of his cousin, Jeremy and a fellow field mouse named Wisely, the cousins battle a hungry falcon, an endless and stormy lake, and the maze of landmarks on the Windsor Castle Grounds as they try to find his way back home—and discover the mysterious map is more connected to the Whiskers family than either of them could have ever imagined.

  4. Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town - When Dede sees a notice offering land for black people in Kansas, her family decides to quit sharecropping and become homesteading pioneers.Inspired by the true story of Nicodemus, Kansas, a town founded in the late 1870s by Exodusters—former slaves leaving the Jim Crow South in search of a new beginning— this fictional story follows Dede and her parents as they set out to stake and secure a claim, finally allowing them to have a home to call their own.

Hunger book
#19
Hunger
Written by Donna Jo Napoli
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

It is the autumn of 1846 in Ireland. Lorraine and her brother are waiting for the time to pick the potato crop on their family farm leased from an English landowner. But this year is different—the spuds are mushy and ruined. What will Lorraine and her family do? Then Lorraine meets Miss Susannah, the daughter of the wealthy English landowner who owns Lorraine’s family’s farm, and the girls form an unlikely friendship that they must keep a secret from everyone. Two different cultures come together in a deserted Irish meadow. And Lorraine has one question: how can she help her family survive? A little known part of history, the Irish potato famine altered history forever and caused a great immigration in the later part of the 1800s. Lorraine’s story is a heartbreaking and ultimately redemptive story of one girl’s strength and resolve to save herself and her family against all odds.

The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher book
#20
The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher
Written by Jessica Lawson and illustrated by Iacopo Bruno
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In 1860, eleven-year-old Becky Thatcher, new to St. Petersburg, Missouri, joins the boys at school in a bet to steal from the Widow Douglas in hopes of meeting a promise to have adventures that she made her brother, Jon, before he died.

King Louie's Shoes book
#21
King Louie's Shoes
Written by D.J. Steinberg and illustrated by Robert Neubecker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Get to know the hilarious true story of King Louis XIV of France and his famous high-heeled shoes! King Louie was a very BIG king in all ways but one: He was five-feet-four-inches short. So Louie and his royal cobbler cooked up the perfect high-heeled solution to help Louie appear taller. But after an embarrassing tumble (on the dance floor, no less!) Louie learned that his subjects were loyal no matter how big—or how shrimpy—their beloved Louie might have been. Readers young and old will relate to this silly and sweet story of King Louie XIV—a man who had it all, but still felt small.

Pocket Bios: Marie Curie book
#22
Pocket Bios: Marie Curie
Written and illustrated by Al Berenger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

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.

How Sweet the Sound book
#23
How Sweet the Sound
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Frank Morrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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

    Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!