An Age-by-Age Guide to The Best Historical Fiction Books for Kids

Updated: July 10, 2020
This is the ultimate guide to the best historical fiction books for kids, broken down by age. We've included choices for babies and toddlers, elementary school, middle school, and high school.
the best historical fiction reads for kids of all ages

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Historical fiction is the perfect way to help children of all ages understand moments in history in an interesting and accessible way. When kids can relate to characters and themes, history comes alive for them in new ways. They can discover universal truths and also learn from mistakes of the past. The following historical fiction books are some of the best options for children ranging from baby and toddlerhood through high school.

More: The Ultimate Bucket List of Books to Read for Kids

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The Best Historical Fiction Books for Baby & Toddler

Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison

This board book features 18 trailblazing black women in American history.

Purchase it here.

This Little President: A Presidential Primer by Joan Holub

This is a fun book for future leaders as they learn about the U.S. presidents.

Purchase it here.

I am Brave: A Little Book About Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer

This book shares factual tidbits about the great civil rights leader. This is a wonderful series for little ones to learn about true heroes.

Purchase it here.

Little Naturalists: The Adventures of John Muir by Kate Coombs

Little nature lovers can learn about the “Father of National Parks.”

Purchase it here.

She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton

This board book is filled with inspiration for little ones who are ready to change the world.

Purchase it here.

The Best Historical Fiction Books for Elementary School

I Survived the Attacks of September 11th, 2001 by Lauren Tarshis

This is an excellent series for elementary students in third and fourth grade. These books make devastating historical events like 9/11 feel accessible and interesting.

Purchase it here.

Magic Tree House: A Big Day for Baseball by Mary Pope Osborne

This is another fantastic series that makes historical events feel real through the use of fantasy. This particular book brings Jack and Annie to the year 1947 so they can solve a mystery and meet Jackie Robinson.

Purchase it here.

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond

This is a fictionalized story of the writer Zora Neale Hurston’s childhood for kids ages 10 and up.

Purchase it here.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Esperanza moves to California during the Great Depression after living a privileged life in Mexico.

Purchase it here.

Nanea: Hula for the Home Front (American Girl Historical Characters) by Kirby Larson

The American Girl Historical Character series brings history to life and is filled with positive messaging.

Purchase it here.

The Best Historical Fiction Books for Middle School

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

This story follows thirteen year old Isabel’s fight for freedom at the start of the Revolutionary War.

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Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Annabelle uses compassion and inner strength to overcome bullying in 1940s America.

Purchase it here.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

This is a powerful novel about the relationship between a boy and his fox during the time of an encroaching war. It is a true hero’s journey.

Purchase it here.

The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz

This book is an exciting medieval adventure that is told in the style of The Canterbury Tales.

Purchase it here.

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

This is a tale of survival as fever sweeps through the streets of 1793 Philadelphia.

Purchase it here.

More: The Top Books for Middle Schoolers

The Best Historical Fiction Books for High School

Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth

Leela is a twelve-year-old girl in India during the initial rise of Gandhi. She must learn how to make her dreams come true during a time of challenges.

Purchase it here.

Search and Destroy by Dean Hughes

Nick is a recent high school graduate who decides to join the army to fight in Vietnam. This coming-of-age story focuses on how war can change a person and their dreams.

Purchase it here.

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

This novel is set in 1911 in New York City and is both suspenseful and romantic. It is set against the background of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and the fire at Dreamland in Coney Island.

Purchase it here.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

This is a tale of brothers torn apart by war where one escapes to America and the other is killed by the Taliban.

Purchase it here.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

This story is a powerful introduction to the Holocaust as it tells the story of Bruno as he befriends another boy whose life circumstances are very different from his own.

Purchase it here.

Looking for more books for high-school students? Here is the Ultimate Bucket List of Books All Kids Should Read Before They Turn 18.