Historical Stories

Some of our favorite historical fiction for school-age children.


Compiled by:
Children's Services Staff

Younger Elementary

Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall, Thin Tale (introducing his forgotten frontier friend)

Deborah Hopkinson
(Juvenile Fiction - J Hopkins)

In Knob Creek, Kentucky, in 1816, seven-year-old Abe falls into a creek and is rescued by his best friend, Austin Gollaher. See more historical fiction by this author, such as the Klondike Kid Trilogy.


The Adventures of Sir Lancelot the Great

Gerald Morris
(Juvenile Fiction – J Morris)
Series: The Knights' Tales

Relates tales of Sir Lancelot, the bravest knight in King Arthur's court.


Dinosaur Hunter

Elaine Marie Alphin
(Juvenile First Chapter Books - J Alphin)

In Wyoming in the 1880s, a young boy fulfills his dream of finding a dinosaur skeleton on his father's ranch, outwits a man who would cheat him, and sells his find to a team of fossil hunters.


Hello Lighthouse

Sophie Blackall
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Bla)

Explores the life of one lighthouse as it beams its message out to sea through shifting seasons, changeable weather, and the tenure of its final keeper.


Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race

Laura Freeman
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 920 She)

Explores the previously uncelebrated but pivotal contributions of NASA's African American women mathematicians to America's space program, describing how Jim Crow laws segregated them despite their groundbreaking successes.


Sarah Plain and Tall

Patricia MacLachlan
(Juvenile Fiction - J Maclach)
Series: MacLachlan, Patricia. Sarah, plain and tall ; 1.

When Papa advertises for a new wife to join his prairie family, Sarah appears from Maine. The children, Caleb and Anna, grow to love her very much but fear she is too homesick and will soon leave them. Read more books by this author about the Witting family and their life on the frontier.


Older Elementary

Adam & Thomas

Aharon Appelfeld
(Juvenile Fiction – J Appelfe)

Adam and Thomas, two nine-year-old Jewish boys who survive World War II, take refuge in the forest where they learn to forage and survive, soon meeting and helping other fugitives fleeing for their lives.


Ahimsa

Supriya Kelkar
(Juvenile Fiction - J Kelkar)

When her mother is jailed for being one of Gandhi's freedom fighters, ten-year-old Anjali overcomes her own prejudices and continues her mother's social reform work, befriending Untouchable children and working to integrate her school.


Around the World

Matt Phelan
(Juvenile Graphic Novels - J Phelan)

Challenged with circling the world at the end of the nineteenth century, three very different adventurers--avid bicyclist Thomas Stevens, fearless reporter Nellie Bly, and retired sea captain Joshua Slocum--embark on epic journeys.


The Birchbark House

Louise Erdrich
(Juvenile Fiction - J Er)

Omakayas, a seven-year-old Native American girl of the Ojibwa tribe, lives through the joys of summer and the perils of winter on an island in Lake Superior in 1847. See also the sequel to this story: The Game of Silence.


Breaking Stalin's Nose

Eugene Yelchin
(Juvenile Fiction - J Yelchin)

In the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union, ten-year-old Sasha idolizes his father, a devoted Communist, but when police take his father away and leave Sasha homeless, he is forced to examine his own perceptions, values and beliefs.


Catherine Called Birdy

Karen Cushman
(Juvenile Fiction - J Cushman)

The thirteen-year-old daughter of an English country knight keeps a journal in which she records the events of her life, particularly her longing for adventures beyond the usual role of women and her efforts to avoid being married off. You might also like other historical novels by this author, such as The Loud Silence of Francine Green, The Midwife's Apprentice or Rodzina.


Chains

Laurie Halse Anderson
(Juvenile Fiction - J Anderso)

After being sold to a cruel couple in New York City, a slave named Isabel spies for the rebels during the Revolutionary War.


Echo: A Novel

Pam Munoz Ryan
(Juvenile Fiction - J Ryan)

Lost in the Black Forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and finds himself entwined in a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica--and decades later three children, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California find themselves caught up in the same thread of destiny in the darkest days of the twentieth century, struggling to keep their families intact, and tied together by the music of the same harmonica.


Esperanza Rising

Pam Muñoz Ryan
(Juvenile Fiction - J Ryan)

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.


Finding Langston

Lesa Cline-Ransome
(Juvenile Fiction - J Clinera)

Discovering a book of Langston Hughes' poetry in the library helps Langston cope with the loss of his mother, relocating from Alabama to Chicago as part of the Great Migration, and being bullied.


Ghost Boys

Jewell Parker Rhodes
(Juvenile Fiction - J Rhodes)

After seventh-grader Jerome is shot by a white police officer, he observes the aftermath of his death and meets the ghosts of other fallen black boys including historical figure Emmett Till.


Heart of a Samurai: Based on the True Story of Manjiro Nakahama

Margi Preus
(Juvenile Fiction - J Preus)

In 1841, rescued by an American whaler after a terrible shipwreck leaves him and his four companions castaways on a remote island, fourteen-year-old Manjiro, who dreams of becoming a samurai, learns new laws and customs as he becomes the first Japanese person to set foot in the United States.


The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on a True Story between a Boy and a Baseball Legend

Sharon Robinson
(Juvenile Fiction - J Robinso)

A tale based on a true story follows the experiences of a young Jewish boy in Brooklyn who befriends new neighbor and baseball icon Jackie Robinson before a well-intentioned mistake helps bridge disparate religious and cultural gaps.


Inside Out and Back Again

Thanhha Lai
(Juvenile Fiction - J Lai)

Through a series of poems, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother, and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama.


The Journey of Little Charlie

Christopher Paul Curtis
(Juvenile Fiction - J Curtis)

Striking a deal with a formidable local in the aftermath of his father's death, 12-year-old Charlie, the child of sharecroppers, agrees to track down a band of thieves only to confront a difficult moral choice when he learns the true identities and circumstances of his targets.


The Lions of Little Rock

Kristin Levine
(Juvenile Fiction - J Levine)

In 1958 Little Rock, Arkansas, painfully shy twelve-year-old Marlee sees her city and family divided over school integration, but her friendship with Liz, a new student, helps her find her voice and fight against racism.


A Long Way From Chicago

Richard Peck
(Juvenile Fiction - J Peck)

A boy recounts his annual summer trips to rural Illinois with his sister during the Great Depression to visit their larger-than-life grandmother. (Also read the award-winning sequel, A Year Down Yonder.)


The Marvels

Brian Selznick
(Juvenile Fiction – J Selznick)

In 1766, a boy, Billy Marvel, is shipwrecked, rescued, and goes on to found a brilliant family of actors that flourishes in London until 1900--and nearly a century later, Joseph Jervis, runs away from home, seeking refuge with his uncle in London, and is captivated by the Marvel house, with its portraits and ghostly presences.


Mr. Tucket

Gary Paulsen
(Juvenile Fiction - J Paulsen)

In 1848, while on a wagon train headed for Oregon, fourteen-year-old Francis Tucket is kidnapped by Pawnee Indians and then falls in with a one-armed trapper who teaches him how to live in the wild.


The Night Diary

Veera Hiranandani
(Juvenile Fiction - J Hiranan)

The 12-year-old daughter of a refugee family forced to flee their home in the aftermath of the 1947 separation of Pakistan and India embarks on a treacherous journey that she records in a series of letters written to her late mother.


Number the Stars

Lois Lowry
(Juvenile Fiction - J Lowry)

In 1943, during the German occupation of Denmark, ten-year-old Annemarie learns how to be brave and courageous when she helps shelter her Jewish friend from the Nazis.


One Crazy Summer

Rita Williams-Garcia
(Juvenile Fiction - J Williams)
Series: Gaither Sisters; 1

In the summer of 1968, eleven-year-old Delphine and her sisters travel from Brooklyn to Oakland, California to spend a month with their mother whom they barely know. There they discover their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.


Our Only May Amelia

Jennifer L. Holm
(Juvenile Fiction - J Holm)

As the only girl in a Finnish American family of seven brothers, May Amelia Jackson resents being expected to act like a lady while growing up in Washington state in 1899.


Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War

Helen Frost
(Juvenile Fiction - J Frost)

Twelve-year-olds Anikwa, of the Miami village of Kekionga, and James, of the trading post outside Fort Wayne, find their friendship threatened by the rising fear and tension brought by the War of 1812.


Smith

Leon Garfield
(Juvenile Fiction - J Gar)

Twelve-year-old Smith is a denizen of the mean streets of eighteenth-century London, living hand to mouth by virtue of wit and pluck. After deftly picking the pocket of an old man, he finds himself in a tough spot, which leads Smith on a breathtaking adventure.


Sophia’s War: A Tale of the Revolution

Avi
(Juvenile Fiction - J Avi)

In 1776, after witnessing the execution of Nathan Hale in New York City, newly occupied by the British army, young Sophia Calderwood resolves to do all she can to help the American cause, including becoming a spy. Look for more historical fiction titles by this author.


The War that Saved My Life

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
(Juvenile Fiction – J Bradley)

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.


Wolf Hollow

Lauren Wolk
(Juvenile Fiction – J Wolk)

Twelve-year-old Annabelle must learn to stand up for what's right in the face of a manipulative and violent new bully who targets people Annabelle cares about, including a homeless World War I veteran.