Historical Fiction

Nothing gets kids excited about history like a gripping story. Times, people, and places that might seem dull or far away in a textbook come to living, breathing life in historical novels like the ones on this list. From the Middle Ages to the American Revolution, the World Wars to the Cold War, the 9/11 attacks to the start of the civil war in Syria, these diverse selections offer action, intrigue, and unforgettable characters. For more great reads, check out Books About the U.S. Civil War and World War II Books for Kids.

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Small Beauties: The Journey of Darcy Heart O'Hara Book Poster Image
Small treasure explores Irish famine, emigration.
By Elvira Woodruff
(2006)
(2006)
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The Adventures of Sir Gawain the True Book Poster Image
Perfect "knightly" read-aloud for younger children.
By Gerald Morris
(2012)
(2011)
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The Crossing Book Poster Image
Historic journey comes alive with poetic words, vivid art.
By Donna Jo Napoli
(2011)
(2011)
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I Survived Series Book Poster Image
Riveting, emotional historical fiction for young readers.
By Lauren Tarshis
(2016)
(2010)
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Morning Girl Book Poster Image
Lyrical historical fiction with a knockout punch.
By Michael Dorris
(2004)
(1992)
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Skunked!: Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Laughs, science in new Callie series for younger readers.
By Jacqueline Kelly
(2016)
(2016)
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Escape from Aleppo Book Poster Image
Gripping, moving tale of Syrian teen fleeing war-torn city.
By N. H. Senzai
(2018)
(2018)
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Full of Beans Book Poster Image
Plucky boy finds conscience, hope amid Great Depression.
By Jennifer L. Holm
(2016)
(2016)
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The Invention of Hugo Cabret Book Poster Image
Spectacular cinematic book has lots of heart.
By Brian Selznick
(2007)
(2007)
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Little House Series Book Poster Image
Beloved series is charming, engrossing -- and dated.
By Laura Ingalls Wilder
(2017)
(1932)
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May B. Book Poster Image
Riveting and moving account of girl's struggle for survival.
By Caroline Starr Rose
(2012)
(2012)
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The Secret of Nightingale Wood Book Poster Image
Suspenseful WWI family drama has feel of a classic.
By Lucy Strange
(2017)
(2017)
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Wheels of Change Book Poster Image
Plucky heroine faces turbulent times in engaging tale.
By Darlene Beck Jacobson
(2014)
(2014)
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Anne of Green Gables Book Poster Image
Beloved classic features lovable, imaginative heroine.
By L.M. Montgomery
(2011)
(1908)
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Arcady's Goal Book Poster Image
Understated, affecting glimpse of child's life under Stalin.
By Eugene Yelchin
(2014)
(2014)
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Elijah of Buxton Book Poster Image
Humorous, powerful, masterful escaped-slave tale.
By Christopher Paul Curtis
(2007)
(2007)
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Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy Book Poster Image
A preacher's son stands up to a racist town.
By Gary D. Schmidt
(2005)
(2005)
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The Mighty Miss Malone Book Poster Image
Unforgettable 12-year-old girl battles the Great Depression.
By Christopher Paul Curtis
(2012)
(2012)
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A Night Divided Book Poster Image
Sharp-eyed Cold War stunner has high intrigue, family drama.
By Jennifer A. Nielsen
(2015)
(2015)
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On the Wings of Heroes Book Poster Image
Funny, poignant life on home front during WWII.
By Richard Peck
(2008)
(2007)
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Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution Book Poster Image
Girl becomes spy in absorbing American Revolution tale.
By Avi
(2012)
(2012)
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The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle Book Poster Image
Brilliant high-seas adventure is a classic.
By Avi
(2009)
(1990)
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The War That Saved My Life Book Poster Image
Abused girl finds courage, family in compelling WWII story.
By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
(2015)
(2015)
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The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 Book Poster Image
A funny novel with a devastating emotional punch.
By Christopher Paul Curtis
(2004)
(1995)
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The Book of Boy Book Poster Image
Boy seeks relics in fun, mystical Middle Ages fantasy.
By Catherine Gilbert Murdock
(2018)
(2018)
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Bridge of Time Book Poster Image
Clever tale of present-day kids lost in 1864 San Francisco.
By Lewis Buzbee
(2012)
(2012)
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Catherine, Called Birdy Book Poster Image
Spirited novel offers warts-and-all view of the Middle Ages.
By Karen Cushman
(2012)
(1994)
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Crow Book Poster Image
Irresistible boy narrator faces turn-of-20th-century racism.
By Barbara Wright
(2012)
(2012)
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Esperanza Rising Book Poster Image
Historical fiction at its best in story of '30s farmworkers.
By Pam Munoz Ryan
(2011)
(2000)
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Falcon in the Glass Book Poster Image
Exciting tale of boy glassblower in Renaissance Italy.
By Susan Fletcher
(2013)
(2013)
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Ghost Hawk Book Poster Image
Gorgeous tale of friendship between colonist and Indian.
By Susan Cooper
(2013)
(2013)
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Hattie Big Sky Book Poster Image
Teen girl homesteads alone in Newbery Honor book.
By Kirby Larson
(2011)
(2006)
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How to Catch a Bogle Book Poster Image
Thrilling fantasy blends Dickensian charm, great suspense.
By Catherine Jinks
(2013)
(2013)
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I Lived on Butterfly Hill Book Poster Image
Moving story of Chilean girl's escape from a dictatorship.
By Marjorie Agosin
(2014)
(2014)
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The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog Book Poster Image
Poignant, funny medieval tale skewers ignorance, bigotry.
By Adam Gidwitz
(2016)
(2016)
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Kira-Kira Book Poster Image
Girl faces racism, sister's cancer in touching tale.
By Cynthia Kadohata
(2005)
(2005)
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Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris Book Poster Image
Ambitious time-travel tale covers edgy French history, art.
By Marissa Moss
(2012)
(2012)
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Moon Over Manifest Book Poster Image
Girl finds meaning of home in nostalgic, robust tale.
By Clare Vanderpool
(2011)
(2010)
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My Brigadista Year Book Poster Image
Compelling tale of teen literacy volunteer in 1961 Cuba.
By Katherine Paterson
(2017)
(2017)
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The Night Diary Book Poster Image
India-Pakistan religious conflict drives moving family tale.
By Veera Hiranandani
(2018)
(2018)
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Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story Book Poster Image
Thought-provoking story of four kids affected by 9/11.
By Nora Raleigh Baskin
(2016)
(2016)
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One Came Home Book Poster Image
Feisty heroine shines in award-winning historical mystery.
By Amy Timberlake
(2014)
(2013)
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Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier Book Poster Image
Boy joins a come-to-life clay soldier in exciting adventure.
By Ying Chang Compestine, Vinson Compestine
(2014)
(2014)
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Shooting Kabul Book Poster Image
Life and 9/11 through lens of 11-year-old Afghan immigrant.
By N. H. Senzai
(2011)
(2011)
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Small Acts of Amazing Courage Book Poster Image
Feisty heroine provides eye-opening look at colonial India.
By Gloria Whelan
(2011)
(2011)
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Turtle in Paradise Book Poster Image
Depression-era story teaches history, meaning of family.
By Jennifer Holm
(2011)
(2010)
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West of the Moon Book Poster Image
Enslaved girl escapes master in riveting historical tale.
By Margi Preus
(2014)
(2014)
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Alex & Eliza:  A Love Story Book Poster Image
Fun imagined tale of Alexander Hamilton's sweet romance.
By Melissa de la Cruz
(2017)
(2017)
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Echo Book Poster Image
Tales of injustice masterfully blend with a dash of magic.
By Pam Munoz Ryan
(2015)
(2015)
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Johnny Tremain Book Poster Image
Sweeping tale of redcoats, revolutionaries, and brave boy.
By Esther Forbes
(2003)
(1943)
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The Red Pencil Book Poster Image
Moving verse tale of girl's experience in Darfur genocide.
By Andrea Davis Pinkney
(2014)
(2014)
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The River Between Us Book Poster Image
Civil War realism for young readers.
By Richard Peck
(2003)
(2003)
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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Book Poster Image
Compelling tale of family facing racism in '30s Mississippi.
By Mildred D. Taylor
(2004)
(1976)
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Splendors and Glooms Book Poster Image
Dark, magical, Dickensian page-turner for tweens.
By Laura Amy Schlitz
(2012)
(2012)
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Between Shades of Gray Book Poster Image
Harrowing, moving account of life in Stalin's labor camps.
By Ruta Sepetys
(2012)
(2011)
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Boxers & Saints Book Poster Image
Exciting graphic-novel set is powerful historical fiction.
By Gene Luen Yang
(2013)
(2013)
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Breaking Stalin's Nose Book Poster Image
Newbery Honor-winning tale of growing up in Stalinist USSR.
By Eugene Yelchin
(2012)
(2011)
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City of Orphans Book Poster Image
Newsboy and street urchin solve a mystery in 1893 New York.
By Avi
(2011)
(2011)
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Cleopatra's Moon Book Poster Image
Exciting novel imagines the life of Cleopatra's daughter.
By Vicky Alvear Shecter
(2011)
(2011)
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The Crown's Game Book Poster Image
Captivating tale of competing magicians in 1825 Russia.
By Evelyn Skye
(2016)
(2016)
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Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii Book Poster Image
Riveting action, romance amid gladiators in Pompeii.
By Vicky Alvear Shecter
(2014)
(2014)
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Dust Girl: The American Fairy Trilogy, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Intricate historical novel contrasts Dust Bowl, fairy world.
By Sarah Zettel
(2012)
(2012)
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My Name Is Not Friday Book Poster Image
Powerful, intense tale of slave life near end of Civil War.
By Jon Walter
(2016)
(2016)
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Shame the Stars Book Poster Image
Historical romance leans to soap-opera-style melodrama.
By Guadalupe Garcia McCall
(2016)
(2016)
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The True Adventures of Nicolo Zen Book Poster Image
Solid historical fiction, great for classical music lovers.
By Nicholas Christopher
(2014)
(2014)
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Crossing Ebenezer Creek Book Poster Image
Heartbreaking novel follows freed slaves on Sherman's March.
By Tonya Bolden
(2017)
(2017)
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Hamilton and Peggy: A Revolutionary Friendship Book Poster Image
Engaging mix of history, romance set in Revolutionary War.
By L.M. Elliott
(2018)
(2018)
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The Lost Crown Book Poster Image
Moving fictional diaries of Russia's last four tsarinas.
By Sarah Miller
(2011)
(2011)
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Lucky Strikes Book Poster Image
Crazy schemes, sweetness in funny, poignant Depression tale.
By Louis Bayard
(2016)
(2016)
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Prisoner of Night and Fog Book Poster Image
Compelling mystery offers intro, insight into Hitler's rise.
By Anne Blankman
(2014)
(2014)
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Salt to the Sea Book Poster Image
Heartbreaking WWII novel shows power of hope, connection.
By Ruta Sepetys
(2016)
(2016)
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Walk on Earth a Stranger: Gold Seer Trilogy, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Girl hides as boy for harrowing journey west in taut tale.
By Rae Carson
(2015)
(2015)
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Blood Water Paint Book Poster Image
Teen artist fights rapist in riveting tale of 1610 Rome.
By Joy McCullough
(2018)
(2018)
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Burn Baby Burn Book Poster Image
Riveting coming-of-age tale set in dangerous summer of '77.
By Meg Medina
(2016)
(2016)
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The Color Purple Movie Poster Image
Powerful tale of survival with wrenching scenes of abuse.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1986)
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Every Hidden Thing Book Poster Image
Absorbing dino-hunting adventure has some mature content.
By Kenneth Oppel
(2016)
(2016)
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For Whom the Bell Tolls Book Poster Image
Profound novel offers brutal view of Spanish Civil War.
By Ernest Hemingway
(2011)
(1940)
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The Good Earth Book Poster Image
Gritty, moving tale of couple in turn-of-the century China.
By Pearl S. Buck
(2011)
(1931)
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The Great Gatsby Book Poster Image
American classic captures romance, debauchery of Jazz Age.
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
(2011)
(1925)
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A Tale of Two Cities Book Poster Image
Immortal romance is set against violent French Revolution.
By Charles Dickens
(2011)
(1894)
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Code Name Verity Book Poster Image
Plot-twisting, heart-wrenching, unforgettable WWII story.
By Elizabeth Wein
(2012)
(2012)
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The Diviners, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Swell start to a spooky but fabulous Prohibition-set series.
By Libba Bray
(2012)
(2012)
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The Grapes of Wrath Book Poster Image
Gritty Steinbeck classic brings Great Depression to life.
By John Steinbeck
(2010)
(2002)
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Out of Darkness Book Poster Image
Beautifully written look at racism and love in 1930s Texas.
By Ashley Hope Pérez
(2016)
(2015)
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Other great lists from our editors