Historical Fiction

Picture Books

Ancient World and Prehistory:

Winter, Jeanette. Kali’s Song. Schwartz & Wade Books, 2012. E WIN
Thousands and thousands of years ago, a young boy gets his first hunting bow and learns to shoot, but he prefers to use the bow to make music.

Middle Ages:

Holmes, Mary Tavener.The Elephant from Bagdad. Marshall Cavendish Children, 2012. E HOL
The story of how the Emperor Charlemagne sent an ambassador to Baghdad, the center of the Muslim world, to learn about the great ruler in the East, Haroun al Rashid. Includes notes on the factual basis of the story.

Millen, C.M. The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane. Charlesbridge, 2010.  E MIL
In medieval Ireland, Theophane's boredom with his duties as a scribe distracts the other monks, but when he is sent to the kitchens he discovers that he can make inks of many colors from plants, allowing the others to illustrate their work. 

Mayhew, James. The knight who took all day. Chicken House, 1964. E MAY
Describes a knight who wants to impress a princess, but is too worried about his appearances when a dragon does appear.

15th – 17th Centuries:

Francis, Pauline. Sam Stars at Shakespeare’s Globe. Publishers Group West, 2006.  E FRA
Sam acts in plays to get close to a writer, and when Shakespeare hires him to act in his plays, Sam wants a major role.

18th Century:

Kay, Verla. Homespun Sarah.  G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2003.  E KAY
Simple rhyming text presents the everyday life of a young girl, living on a Pennsylvania farm in the early eighteenth century, who is quickly outgrowing her dress.

Kay, Verla. Hornbooks and Inkwells. G.P.Putnam’s Sons, 2011. E KAY
Two brothers spend a year attending a one-room schoolhouse on the frontier.

19th Century:

Krensky, Stephen. Sisters of Scituate Light. Dutton Children's Books, 2008.  E KRE
In 1814, when their father leaves them in charge of the lighthouse outside of Boston, two sisters devise a clever way to avert an attack by a British warship patrolling the Massachusetts coast.

Broyles, Anne.  Priscilla and the Hollyhocks. Charlesbridge, 2008.  E BRO
A young African American girl is sold as a slave, and then later is sold to a Cherokee Indian,  eventually she is bought by a white man who not only sets her free, but adopts her into his family of fifteen children. Based on a true story.

Yolan, Jane. Naming Liberty. Philomel Books,  2008. E YOL
In parallel stories, a Ukrainian Jewish family prepares to emigrate to the United States in the late 1800s, and Frederic Auguste Bartholdi designs, raises funds for, and builds the Statue of Liberty in honor of the United States' centennial.

Civil War:

Winnick, Karen B. Lucy's Cave: A Story of Vicksburg, 1863. Boyds Mills Press, 2008. E WIN
During the attack on Vicksburg in 1863, Lucy and her family are forced to leave their home and live in a cave with other townspeople, and while she is there she learns to overcome her fears, discomfort, and makes new friends.


Lyons, Kelly Starling. Ellen’s Broom. G.P. Putnam’s Sons,  2012. E LYO
Ellen has always known that the broom hanging on her family's cabin wall is a special symbol of her parents' wedding during slave days, so she proudly carries it to the courthouse when the marriage becomes legal.

Frontier and Pioneer Life:

Kay, Verla. Iron Horses. Putnam,  1999.  E KAY
Illustrations and simple rhyming text depict the race to construct railroads across the country during the second half of the nineteenth century.

Kay, Verla. What ever happened to the Pony Express? G.P.Putman’s Sons, 2010.  E KAY
A family's cross-country communication changes during the development and demise of the Pony Express.

Esbaum, Jill. Ste-e-e-e-emboat a-comin!  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.  E ESB
A village comes to life when a Mississippi River steamboat arrives and unloads its goods.

20th Century:


Hopkinson, Deborah. Knit Your Bit: a World War I Story.  G.P. Putnam’s Sons,  2013.  E HOP
When his father leaves to fight in World War I, Mikey wants to help in some way. His teacher suggests that her students enter a knitting bee to benefit the soldiers.  Micky and the other boys scoff at the idea; boys don’t knit! But when the girls dare them to enter, the competition is on.

Great Depression

Rockliff, Mara. My Heart Will Not Sit Down. Alfred A. Knopf.  2012.  E ROC
In 1931 Cameroon, young Kedi is upset to learn that children in her American teacher's village of New York are going hungry because of the Great Depression, and she asks her mother, neighbors, and even the headman for money to help. Includes historical notes.

Birtha, Becky. Lucky Beans. Albert Whitman & Co.  2010.  E BIR
During the Great Depression, Marshall, an African American boy, uses lessons learned in arithmetic class and guidance from his mother to figure out how many beans are in a jar in order to win her a new sewing machine in a contest.


Johnson, Angela. Wind flyers. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers,  2007. E JOH
A boy's love of flight takes him on a journey from the dusty dirt roads of Alabama to the war-torn skies of Europe. Introduces young readers to the contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II.

Beginning Readers

Goodhart, Pippa. The Fire Cat. Crabtree Publishers, 2006. E GOO
While London burns in 1666, John's cat Sammy disappears, and while he searches for the cat, John follows his friend Mr. Pepys's advice and writes in a journal about what he observes.

MacLeod, Elizabeth. Samuel de Champlain. Kids Can Press, 2008. E MAC
A biography of the French explorer who founded Quebec, discovered Lake Champlain, and was called the Father of New France.

Sandin, Joan. At Home in a New Land. HarperCollins, 2007. E SAN
Carl Erik, a recent immigrant from Sweden, becomes the man of the house when his father and uncle go to work in a logging camp, and he learns many things about life in Minnesota while growing up in the 1870’s.

Hopkinson, Deborah. Billy and the Rebel. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2005. E HOP
During the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, a mother and son shelter a young Confederate deserter. Includes a historical notes.

Medearis, Angela Shelf. Singing for Dr. King. Scholastic, 2004. E MED

In 1965, third-grader Sheyann Webb and her friend help change America by singing and marching for civil rights with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Includes activity ideas.


Ancient World and Prehistory:

Gear, Kathleen O’Neal, Children of the Dawnland. Starscape, 2009. J GEA
13,000 years ago in the Great Lakes Region, twelve-year-old Twig, a Spirit Dreamer who can see into the future, teams up with best friend Greyhawk and the unpopular shaman Screech Owl to warn villagers of an impending natural disaster that could have devastating environmental effects.

200 B.C. – 1000 A.D.  (The Common Era):

Lawrence, Caroline. The Thieves of Ostia. Puffin Books, 2001. J LAW
In Rome in the year 79 A.D., a group of children from very different backgrounds work together to discover who beheaded a pet dog.

Morris, Gerald. The Legend of the King. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.2010. J MOR
Sir Dinadan and other knights of the Round Table and their associates try to stop Mordred and his White Horsemen from ending King Arthur's rule of Great Britain.

Middle Ages:

French, Jackie. Rover. HarperCollins. 2007.  J FRE
Captured by Vikings, young Hekja is taken as a slave to Greenland by the daughter of Erik the Red, and accompanied by no one from her homeland but her loyal dog, shares adventures with her new mistress, who is determined to make a name for herself as her father and brother have.

16th – 18th Century:

Howard, EllenThe Crimson Cap. Holiday House, 2009. J HOW
In 1684, wearing his father's faded cap, eleven-year-old Pierre Talon joins explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier on an expedition to seek the Mississippi River, but after the expedition falls apart, Pierre, deathly ill, is taken in by Hasinai Indians. Includes historical facts.

Durango, Julia. The Walls of CartagenaSimon & Schuster Books, 2008. J DUR
An African slave in the seventeenth-century Caribbean city of Cartagena, works as a translator for a Jesuit priest who tends to newly-arrived slaves and, after working for a Jewish doctor in a leper colony and helping an Angolan boy and his mother escape, he realizes his true calling.

Revolutionary War

Avi. Sophia’s War. Beach Lane Books,  2012. 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. Grades 3-6.

Davies, Jacqueline. Tricking the Tallyman: the great census shenanigans of 1790. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. J DAV
In 1790, the suspicious residents of a small Vermont town try to trick the man who has been sent to count their population for the first United States Census.

19th Century:

Ambrose, Stephen E.  This Vast Land: a Young Man’s Journal of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers,   2003.  J AMB
A fictionalized  diary of George Shannon, youngest member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Anderson, Leone Castell. Sean’s War. ShadowPlay Press, 1997   J AND
Young Sean Callahan struggles to understand the conflict between his gentle immigrant stepmother and his gruff frontier father as northwestern Illinois erupts into war between the white settlers and the Sauk-Fox Indians led by their warrior chief Black Hawk. (1830s)

Wilson, Diane LeeBlack Storm Comin’. Margaret K  McElderry Books, 2005.  J WIL
Twelve-year-old Colton, son of a black mother and a white father, takes a job with the Pony Express in 1860 after his father abandons the family on their California-bound wagon train, and risks his life to deliver an important letter that may affect the growing conflict between the North and South. Grades 6-8.

Civil War

Burgan, Michael.  Hot iron: the adventures of a Civil War powder boy. Stone Arch Books, 2007.  J BUR
Twelve-year old Charlie O'Leary signs aboard the USS Varuna as it steams its way toward the mouth of the Mississippi River to fight the Confederate Navy.  But will his ship survive the awesome Battle of New Orleans? Grades 2-4.

20th Century:


Parry, Rosanne.Written in Stone. Random House, 2013. J PER
A young girl in a Pacific Northwest Native American tribe in the 1920s must deal with the death of her father and the loss of her tribe's traditional ways.