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.

Abigail Takes the Wheel     Abigail Takes the Wheel    
    (Juvenile First Chapter Books - J Av)

When the first mate of the freight boat Neptune falls ill, it is up to the captain's daughter Abigail to steer the ship up the Hudson River to New York City.

Abigail's Drum     Abigail's Drum    
John A. Minahan
    (Juvenile First Chapter Books - J Minahan)

During the War of 1812, when British soldiers threaten the town of Scituate, Massachusetts, young Rebecca Bates and her sister Abigail, daughters of the local lighthouse keeper, find a way to save both him and the town.

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.

Lydia and the Island Kingdom: a story based on the real life of Princess Liliuokalani of Hawaii     Lydia and the Island Kingdom: a story based on the real life of Princess Liliuokalani of Hawaii    
Joan Holub
    (Juvenile Early Readers - J-ER Hol)
Young princesses around the world

Concerned that the increasing influence of Americans will make her island's traditional ways disappear, seven-year-old Princess Lydia Liliuokalani commits traditional stories of the Hawaiian people to paper and presents them to King Kamehameha on Restoration Day in 1846.

Robert Henry Hendershot     Robert Henry Hendershot    
Susan E. Goodman
    (Juvenile First Chapter Books - J Go)

Twelve-year-old Union drummer boy Robert Henry Hendershot captures a Rebel soldier, earning him an audience with President Lincoln.

Sailing for Gold     Sailing for Gold    
Deborah Hopkinson
    (Juvenile First Chapter Books - J Ho)

Orphaned and penniless in Seattle, eleven-year-old Davey stows away on an Alsaka-bound ship to find his uncle who he believes must have joined the Klondike gold rush of 1897. (First in the Klondike Kid Trilogy.) See also Billy and the Rebel by Hopkinson. (J-ER Ho)

Wagon Wheels     Wagon Wheels    
Barbara Brenner
    (Juvenile Early Readers - J-ER Br)

Shortly after the Civil War a black family travels to Kansas to take advantage of the free land offered through the Homestead Act.

Older Elementary

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.

Catch a Tiger by the Toe     Catch a Tiger by the Toe    
Ellen Levine
    (Juvenile Fiction - J Le)

In the Bronx, during the McCarthy era, twelve-year-old Jamie keeps a terrible secret about her family, but when the truth is exposed, her parents lose their jobs and she is fired from the school newspaper.

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.

Crispin: the Cross of Lead     Crispin: the Cross of Lead    
    (Juvenile Fiction - J Avi)

Falsely accused of theft and murder, an orphaned peasant boy in fourteenth-century England flees his village and meets a larger-than-life mummer who helps him discover a powerful secret about his past. Look for more historical fiction titles by this author, such as The Seer of Shadows or The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.

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.

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.

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.

Stop the Train!     Stop the Train!    
Geraldine McCaughrean
    (Juvenile Fiction - J Mccaugh)

Despite the opposition of the owner of the Red Rock Runner railroad in 1893, the new settlers of Florence, Oklahoma, are determined to build a real town.

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 Home-Run King     The Home-Run King    
Patricia C. McKissack
    (Juvenile Fiction - J Mckissa)

During the Depression in Nashville, Tennessee, two baseball-loving brothers host Josh Gibson, a star of the Negro Leagues, in their home, and are motivated to get their own team started as well. Look for other historical fiction by this author in the Scraps of Time series.

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 Storm in the Barn     The Storm in the Barn    
Matt Phelan
    (Juvenile Graphic Novels - J Phelan)

In Kansas in the year 1937, eleven-year-old Jack Clark faces his share of ordinary challenges: local bullies, his father's failed expectations, a little sister with an eye for trouble. But he also has to deal with the effects of the Dust Bowl, including rising tensions in his small town and the spread of a shadowy illness. 

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.