Check out our picks for the best historical fiction books for kids!
The facts are interesting, but the stories that inspire the story are the ones that really have the power to transport us to different eras and bring important lessons from the past to life.
We have some amazing children's books to get your older elementary school student learning about historical events. Scroll through a few.
The Best Historical Fiction Books for Kids at Epic
Aldeia dos Canalhas
Angst: Margi Preus
Inspired by the true story of the French villagers who saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis during World War II, this opening chapter follows a group of teenagers standing up for what is right.
A Jewish boy learns to forge documents to help his mother and uses his new skills to save hundreds of people. Another boy smuggles people into Switzerland. And a girl works up the courage to deliver messages to the resistance. Each boy faces extreme dangers while fighting for the safety of others and fighting against Gestapo forces in this inspiring story of courage and resilience.
When Fire Comes: A History of Segregation During the Great Depression
Written by Tracy Daley
Illustrated by: Eric Freeberg
It's 1935 in Elsinore, California, and in the midst of the Great Depression and drought, 11-year-old Joseph McCoy must shine shoes to keep his family afloat. One of the few black people in a predominantly white community, Joseph survives through hard work and the special relationship he has with his sister. But when a Black Civilian Conservation Corps labor camp arrives, racial tensions erupt and prejudice spreads across the city. The camp is soon under threat and Joseph must help save the camp and bring hope for his family's future.
Gittel's Voyage: A History of Ellis Island
Written by Lesléa Newman
Illustrated by: Amy June Bates
When Gittel and her mother attempt to immigrate to the United States from Poland, a health inspector prevents Gittel's mother from leaving the country due to a suspected eye infection. So the young Gittel has to go on alone. Her mother gives her a piece of paper with her cousin's New York address on it, but when Gittel arrives at Ellis Island, the ink is smudged and she can't see it.
This moving and heartbreaking story is inspired by the true story of Lesléa Newman's grandmother and her journey to Ellis Island.
hope is reborn(audio book in Spanish)
Written by Pam Munoz Ryan
The time is during the Great Depression. Esperanza has adjusted to a privileged life, filled with beautiful clothes, servants and a loving mother, father and grandmother who are always there to take care of them. But when tragedy strikes, Esperanza and her mother are forced to flee their ranch in Mexico and settle in a farm labor camp in California. Now he faces a life of hard work and financial difficulties. It gets even more difficult when her mother falls ill and the workers go on strike. Esperanza must find a way to overcome her struggles and face her challenges because her life depends on it.
You can also find the English version of this audio book, “rising hope" anAmazon Audible.
Looking for Langston
By: Lesa Cline-Ransome
After Langston, an 11-year-old African American, lost his mother in 1946, he and his father moved from Alabama to start a new life in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. You feel like giving up everything you love: family, friends, and the comfort of home. Langston is often alone and has a hard time adjusting to his new school, but he finds a glimmer of hope in his lonely new life: a library open to black children at a time when public space was highly segregated.
He finds refuge in the library for hours and days, and then meets a writer who piques his interest, a poet named Langston.
The invention of Hugo Cabret (audiobook)
Por: Brian Selznick
Filled with old-world charm, this sweet and captivating mystery audiobook is perfect for kids who love adventure and intrigue.
Hugo, orphaned and mechanically interested, fights to survive. In fact, he secretly lives alone within the walls of a busy Paris train station. Life has always been difficult, but when his fate meets that of a quirky, hardworking girl and a bitter old man who runs the station's toy stand, Hugo's secret life and all his secrets are jeopardized.
The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts
Set in England in 1724, Oliver Cromwell Pitts wakes up to find his house has been flooded in a storm and his father missing. Left without food and money, Oliver sets out to find his father. During his journey he encounters excitement and danger.
If your older child or teen appreciates mystery, adventure and lots of excitement, The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell won't disappoint.
The best historical novels for children
Here are some other popular historical fiction books not available from Epic that we recommend:
count the stars
Por: Louis Lowry
This award-winning book follows the experiences of a young woman in Copenhagen, Denmark during World War II. The year is 1943 and 10-year-old Annemarie and her Jewish best friend Ellen are dreaming of a life before the war. Life in Copenhagen is tough enough, plagued by food shortages and Nazi soldiers marching through the streets. But things take a dangerous turn when Denmark's Jews are forced to "relocate". Annemarie's parents take Ellen in, who has to pose as a family member to avoid identification. It doesn't take long for Annemarie to embark on a dangerous mission to save her friend.
This fascinating story is a fun and kid-friendly way to learn about the Holocaust. AvailableAmazon Audible.
Los Watson of Birmingham: 1963
Von: Christopher Paul Curtis
Meet 10-year-old Kenny and his family, known as the "Weird Watsons," in their hometown of Flint, Michigan. When Mom and Dad decide to take the family to visit Grandma in Birmingham, it's time to travel and Dad brings home the Ultra-Glide, an ultra-thin and expensive record player for the trip. Heading south in one of the pivotal moments of the civil rights movement, things shift from funny to tragic to moving as you delve into one of the darkest periods in American history.
This remarkable Newbery Honor shows kids how laughter and family can get us through even the toughest of times. Narrated by Levar Burton inAmazon Audible!
This captivating and meticulously researched piece of historical fiction transports readers to New York in 1893, where young paperboy Maks Geless makes his way through the dark world of the city streets.
Together with her new friend Willa, she must take on a gang of gangsters and clear her sister's name after she is arrested for robbery. AvailableAmazon Audible.
Fever of 1793
Por: Laurie Halse Anderson
It's the summer of 1793 and Mattie Cook is living a normal life with her mother and grandfather above her family's diner, trying to make the family business the best in Philadelphia. But when the fever breaks out and spreads to the streets, her mother falls ill. Mattie runs away with her grandfather, only to find there is no place free of the disease. Your only option is to figure out how to survive the panic that is gripping the city. This detailed historical novel is a fascinating and exciting look at what life can be like during an epidemic. AvailableAmazon Audible.
some honorable mentions
- „Sarah, Common and Tall“ von Patricia MacLachlan
- Al Capone Makes My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
- For Freedom: The Story of a French Spy by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Is this! I hope you enjoy this list of the best historical fiction books for kids. If these books make your child want more history-related books, read our post "The best history books for children of all ages.', which includes non-fiction and titles for younger children.