Staff Picks

Historical Stories

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

Children's Services Staff

Younger Elementary

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

Dinosaur Hunter     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.

Escape by Night: A Civil War Adventure     Escape by Night: A Civil War Adventure    
Laurie Myers
    (Juvenile Fiction - J Myers)

Tommy, the son of a Presbyterian minister in Augusta, Georgia, during the Civil War, must search his conscience to decide whether he should help a Yankee soldier escape and return home.

Pirate Diary: The Journal of Jack Carpenter     Pirate Diary: The Journal of Jack Carpenter    
Richard Platt
    (Juvenile Fiction - J Platt)

The fictional diary of a nine-year-old boy who, in 1716 sets off from North Carolina to become a sailor, but ends up a pirate instead. Look for these other historical diaries by this author: Castle Diary and Egyptian Diary.

Sarah Plain and Tall     Sarah Plain and Tall    
Patricia MacLachlan
    (Juvenile Fiction - J Maclach)
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.

The Adventures of Sir Gawain the True     The Adventures of Sir Gawain the True    
Gerald Morris
    (Juvenile Fiction - J Morris)

Follow the adventures of Sir Gawain, the only undefeated knight in King Arthur's court, who eventually learns the value of friendship, courtliness, and courtesy after a challenge from the Green Knight.

The Star Maker     The Star Maker    
Laurence Yep
    (Juvenile Fiction - J Yep)

In 1950s San Francisco Chinatown, 8 year-old Artie succeeds in fulfilling a foolish fireworks promise with the help of his Uncle Chester.

Older Elementary

A Long Way From Chicago     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.)

Around the World     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.

Breaking Stalin's Nose     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     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     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.

Countdown     Countdown    
Deborah Wiles
    (Juvenile Fiction - J Wiles)
Wiles, Deborah. Sixties trilogy ; 1.

It's 1962, and it seems the whole country is living in fear. Franny Chapman just wants some peace - but that's hard to get! Told with a visually stunning tapestry of Cold War news, ads, and “duck and cover” educational materials.

Esperanza Rising     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.

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

Inside Out and Back Again     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.

Lyddie     Lyddie    
Katherine Paterson
    (Juvenile Fiction - J Paterso)

Impoverished Vermont farm girl Lyddie Worthen is determined to gain her independence by becoming a factory worker in Lowell, Massachusetts, in the 1840s. Look for more historical fiction titles by this author, such as Jip: His Story, The Master Puppeteer, and Bread and Roses, Too.

Morning Girl     Morning Girl    
Michael Dorris
    (Juvenile Fiction - J Do)

Morning Girl, who loves the day, and her younger brother Star Boy, who loves the night, take turns describing their life on an island in pre-Columbian America; in Morning Girl's last narrative, she witnesses the arrival of the first Europeans to her world. You might also enjoy other historical novels by this author, such as Guests and Sees Behind Trees.

Mr. Tucket     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.

Number the Stars     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     One Crazy Summer    
Rita Williams-Garcia
    (Juvenile Fiction - J Williams)

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     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     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     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     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 Birchbark House     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.

The Kite Fighters     The Kite Fighters    
Linda Sue Park
    (Juvenile Fiction - J Park)

In Korea in 1473, eleven-year-old Young-sup overcomes his rivalry with his older brother Kee-sup and combines his kite-flying skill with Kee-sup's kite-making skill in an attempt to win the New Year kite-fighting competition for the emperor. If you like this title you may also like A Single Shard, and When My Name was Keoko by the same author.

The Lions of Little Rock     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.

The Mighty Miss Malone     The Mighty Miss Malone    
Christopher Paul Curtis
    (Juvenile Fiction - J Curtis)

With love and determination befitting the "world's greatest family," twelve-year-old Deza Malone, her older brother Jimmie, and their parents endure tough times in Gary, Indiana, and later Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression. Look for more historical novels by this author.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond     The Witch of Blackbird Pond    
Elizabeth George Speare
    (Juvenile Classics - J Speare)

In 1687 in Connecticut, Kit Tyler, feeling out of place in the Puritan household of her aunt, befriends an old woman considered a witch by the community and suddenly finds herself standing trial for witchcraft.