Teaching your children about history through historical fiction is a great way to get them excited, because authors have a wonderful talent for making history come alive.

We put together a list of 5 great history books that you and your children will love and hopefully make history come alive!

1-  The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch childrens history books for kids
“Barton offers an immersive, engaging, and unflinching portrait of the difficulties of the Reconstruction era, while Tate’s cartoonlike artwork softens moments of cruelty and prejudice without diminishing them.” – Publishers Weekly (STARRED review)

By: Chris Barton & Don Tate
A unique biography of a remarkable Reconstruction figure

Ages 7 to 10

John Roy Lynch spent most of his childhood as a slave in Mississippi, but all of that changed with the Emancipation Proclamation. Suddenly people like John Roy could have paying jobs and attend school. While many people in the South were unhappy with the social change, John Roy thrived in the new era. He was appointed to serve as justice of the peace and was eventually elected into the United States Congress.

This biography, with its informative backmatter and splendid illustrations, gives readers an in-depth look at the Reconstruction period through the life of one of the first African-American congressmen.

Read more about this book in these posts on Eerdlings.

Parents’ Choice AwardSilver Honor
Reading Is Fundamental Best Books of 2015
Fuse #8 100 Magnificent Children’s Books of 2015
CCBC Choices 2016
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2016
PEN Center USA 2016 Literary Award Finalist
New York Public Library 100 Books for Reading and Sharing 2015

Purchase The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch  at
Amazon, Christianbook.com, Eerdmans, or your local  bookstore.

2-  Ben and the Emancipation Proclamation

Ben and the Emancipation Proclamation childrens history books for kids
“Driven by Cooper’s (The Blacker the Berry) textural, earth-toned oil paintings, this uplifting story spotlights the early life of Benjamin C. Holmes, born a slave in the 1840s.” – Publishers Weekly

By:  Pat Sherman & Floyd Cooper

Ages 8-12

Ben, a young slave, uses every chance he gets to teach himself to read, practicing with the words he sees on street signs and in shop windows and even in cast-off newspapers he finds in the gutter.

But after the Civil War breaks out, his master leaves town and Ben finds himself in a slave prison. One night, the prisoners bribe a guard to get their hands on a newspaper, and to the applause of his fellow slaves, Ben reads aloud the momentous news of Mr. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation — surely one of the most remarkable readings of that document ever.

Based on the true story of Benjamin Holmes, Pat Sherman’s stirring text and the memorable illustrations of Coretta Scott King medalist Floyd Cooper pay tribute to the power of freedom — and to the power of the written word.

Read more about this book on Eerdlings.

Poster and postcard available

Order the audiobook, produced by Spoken Arts and read by LeVar Burton.

Arkansas State LibraryArkansas Diamond Primary Book Award Reading List (2012-2013)
Simon Wiesenthal Center / Museum of ToleranceOnce Upon a World Children’s Picture Book Award (2011)
Society of Illustrators“The Original Art” annual exhibition

Purchase Ben and the Emancipation Proclamation  at
Amazon, Christianbook.com, Eerdmans, or your local  bookstore.

3-  The War within These Walls

The War within These Walls children history books for kids
“A powerful, fictionalized memoir.” – Christian Library Journal

By: Aline Sax & Caryl Strzelecki
Translated by Laura Watkinson

Ages 14 & up

It’s World War II, and Misha’s family, like the rest of the Jews living in Warsaw, has been moved by the Nazis into a single crowded ghetto. Conditions are appalling: every day more people die from disease, starvation, and deportations. Misha does his best to help his family survive, even crawling through the sewers to smuggle food. When conditions worsen, Misha joins a handful of other Jews who decide to make a final, desperate stand against the Nazis.

Heavily illustrated with sober blue-and-white drawings, this powerful novel dramatically captures the brutal reality of a tragic historical event.

Notable Social Studies
American Library Association (ALA), Mildred L. Batchelder Honor (2014)
United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY), Outstanding International Books
National Council for the Social Studies & Children’s Book Council, Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
Association of Jewish Libraries, Sydney Taylor Book Award – Honor book
Jewish Book Council, National Jewish Book Award – Children’s/YA Book category
Kirkus Reviews, Best Books of the Year
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
Society of Illustrators, “The Original Art” annual exhibition (2013)
Publishers Weekly, Best Books of the Year – Teen
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review (2013)
School Library Journal, Starred Review (2013)
Society of Illustrators, “The Original Art” annual exhibition
2013 IndieFab Awards Honorable Mention in Young Adult Fiction
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon List

Purchase The War with These Walls at Amazon, Christianbook.com, Eerdmans, or your local  bookstore.

4-  Eva’s Story 

A Survivor’s Tale by the Stepsister of Anne Frank

Eva's Story Anne Frank childrens history books for kids
“Powerful. A heartbreaking and inspirational account of personal triumph.” – Publishers Weekly

By: Eva Schloss

Ages 14 & up

People around the world know the tragic story of Anne Frank, the teenage girl who lost her life in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. But most people don’t know about Eva Schloss, Anne’s playmate and posthumous stepsister. Though Eva, like Anne, was imprisoned in Auschwitz at the age of 15, her story did not end there. Together with her mother, Eva endured daily degradation and countless miseries at the hands of the Nazis. She was freed in 1945, but it would be decades before Eva was able to share her survivor’s tale with the world.

Concluding with new discussion questions and a revealing interview with Eva, this moving memoir recounts—without bitterness or hatred—the horrors of war, the love between mother and daughter, and the strength and determination that helped a family overcome danger and tragedy.

Purchase Eva’s Story at Amazon, Christianbook.com, Eerdmans, or your local  bookstore.

5- William Bradford

Plymouth’s Faithful pilgrim

William Bradford Children history books for kids
“This well-written biography of the Pilgrim leader will be a welcome addition to historic collections. . . Schmidt tells the story well, frequently quoting from the accounts of Bradford himself, as well as others.” – School Library Journal

By: Gary D. Schmidt

Ages 10 & up

Near starvation. Scurvy, tuberculosis, and pneumonia. Bitter cold. Daily deaths. This was the Pilgrims’ first winter in Plymouth Colony. But thanks in large part to William Bradford, the colonists survived–and went on to celebrate the following year what we call Thanksgiving.

William Bradford came to the New World with the other Pilgrims in search of religious freedom. With great faith in God and in his own abilities, he established a stable colony, doing his best to be just and fair to his fellow colonists as well as to the Native Americans living in the area. After he became governor of the colony, he was reelected more than thirty times.

Filled with maps, paintings, and historical illustrations, this fascinating biography by Gary Schmidt introduces readers to the dramatic story of the founder of Plymouth Colony.

Read The First Thanksgiving, an excerpt from the book, on EerdWord.

Bank Street CollegeBest Children’s Books of the Year (2000)
New York Public LibraryBooks for the Teen Age List
Logos BookstoresBook Award for Youth

Purchase William Bradford at Amazon, Christianbook.com, Eerdmans, or your local  bookstore.