Historical fiction books for kids are a great way for them to learn about the past. These books drop the reader into the story, making history come alive. Children relate to the characters, gaining insight into more than the facts. They learn about world-changing events by seeing through the eyes of the characters.
These books tell the stories of past times in an easier-to-digest manner. Instead of focusing on dates and numbers, these books appeal to a child’s emotions, helping relate to the characters. Since this can strongly impact a kid’s view of historical events, it’s important to choose the right books. Use careful though and effort when picking out historical fiction for you child. Some historical fiction can be inappropriate for certain ages, especially given the horrors our past.
Best Historical Fiction Books for Kids
Finding the best historical fiction books for children might prove to be a difficult task. After all, these will shape a child’s view and opinions on historical and political events.
Here are just a few of the most remarkable:
Historical Fiction Books for Kids Under 10 Years Old
The Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder (7+)
All the nine books from the Little House on the Prairie series are must-reads historical fiction, since they offer valuable life lessons to children and adults of all ages. However, not all of them are suitable for younger readers. The first book of the series, Little House on the Prairie, is part of every primary school curriculum.
The pioneer spirit and how strongly related success is to taking risks is the most obvious theme and the main lesson of these books. However, Laura Ingalls Wilder also talks about the frontier era, telling an honest story of the westward expansion. Unlike other books and TV shows or movies set in that time, this book talks about motivation, injustice, and unfairness from a unique perspective.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (9+)
This classic tells the story of a 10-year-old girl that has been neglected by her parents, whom she lived with in India. After their tragic death, she is sent to live with her elder uncle in England, who is still mourning his deceased wife. After having a few difficulties adapting at first, the sickly girl makes a few friends and embarks on exciting adventures on her uncle’s extensive property. Ultimately, the girl manages to gain her uncle’s sympathy and friendship, restoring his emotional energy.
The Secret Garden is about the omnipresence and power of magic. On a more grounded note, though, it also emphasizes how much our health depends on our attitude and environment. The necessity of companionship and the importance of a social life are also discreetly underlined by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery (10+)
This historical fiction book follows Anne, an 11-year-old orphan girl, through being adopted by a family that wanted to adopt a boy. Even though the family wanted to send her back at first, they quickly took a liking to Anne’s talkative, imaginative, and bright personality. The novel recounts Anne’s successes, failures, emotions, education, and priorities, which ultimately influence her decisions.
Anne of Green Gables truly is a remarkable coming-of-age novel, since it walks children through the growing-up process like no other. Girls and boys alike can identify with Anne’s stumbling blocks on the brink of becoming a teenager. The conflict between imagination, social expectations, and reality is by far the most prevalent one. The book also treats the fine differences between emotions and sentimentality, which are bound to awaken curiosity and the need for reflection in children.
Historical Fiction Books for Kids Over 11 Years Old
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (11+)
Among all historical fiction books for sixth graders, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is by far the most popular. It tells the story of Huckleberry Finn, a 13-year-old orphan. The boy is taken in by two women who plan on teaching him proper manners and religion. However, he soon leaves their home with Jim, the house slave, whom he helped escape.
In this remarkable coming-of-age novel, Mark Twain emphasizes the contradiction between America’s written and unwritten laws. He exposes the hypocrisy of the so-called civilized American society. It accurately portrays racism and segregation as leading models in the average American’s mindset. And this is well after the writing of the Declaration of Independence. But it also emphasizes the importance of intellectual and moral education no matter the age. This makes it one of the best historical fiction books for kids of all times.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (12+)
This famous book that was also adapted into a highly successful movie tells the story of Liesel, a 10-year-old girl that lives in World War II Germany. The narrator is Death, itself, and realistically describes the few decades as both beautiful and destructive.
Liesel witnesses the harshness of life horrors of the Nazi regime way too early. Readers witness her struggle to find beauty around her and preserve her innocence, despite the inappropriate environment she lives in. The few good things in her life, the books, seem to also be endangered by the Nazi reign. However, she makes stealing and protecting them her mission, which also leads her to a journey of self-discovery and, in the end, to a new family.
Although the most obvious theme is the historical one, The Book Thief really underlines the power of words. It focuses on how much a well-spoken individual can achieve. Human kindness and cruelty (good and evil) are also explored in-depth. The era and location of the book provide plenty of examples for both.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (12+)
Little Women is one of the most appreciated and popular historical fiction books for kids and adults alike. This extremely immersive book features the lives of four sisters who live with their mother. The family lives on the brink of the American Civil War. The everyday life in the late 1800s is accurately portrayed, with all its ups and downs. Household chores, social life and status, health, and diseases, women’s struggle, family duty, and personal growth are just a few of the most prevalent themes of this book.
Many of the events might be disagreeable for some. However, this book managed to depict the harsh realities of the American Civil War like no other. Although is not on the curricular historical fiction books, Little Women is a must-read for any precocious and avid reader.