Step back in time with these historical fiction books. The list is subdivided by reading level. Please remember that these grade levels are only approximations and are not intended to limit the reader. Unless otherwise noted, books are arranged on the shelves by the author’s last name in the sections below.
A= Title also available on audiobook
P= Title also available on Playaway
STEP-UP J FICTION (Grades 2-3)
Wagon Wheelsby Barbara Brenner (Found at JR Brenner) A
The young Muldie boys, along with their father, travel across the United States in 1878 to find land for themselves. They settle in Kansas, but face hardships such as starvation. Will the Muldie boys be able to take care of themselves when their father leaves to find better land for the family? 64 pgs.
Pippo the Fool by Tracey E. Fern
A contest is held to design a magnificent dome for the cathedral in Florence. Pippo the Fool claims that he will win the contest, but everyone in town laughs at him. This story is based on the greatest achievement of the fifteenth-century architectural genius Filippo Brunelleschi. Unpaged.
Rescue on the Outer Banks by Candice F. Ransom
Relive an exciting 1896 nighttime rescue at the Pea Island Ocean Rescue Station along North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Through the eyes of ten-year-old Sam Deal, this book tells how the rescue team manages to save all the passengers and crew from the E. S. Newman. 48 pgs.
The Amazing Air Balloon by Jean Van Leeuwen
Thirteen-year-old Edward Warren rides in the first manned hot-air balloon after the creator of the balloon decides not to make the flight himself. Unpaged.
J FICTION (Grades 3-6)
Gold in the Hills by Laurie Lawlor
After ten-year-old Hattie and her twelve-year-old brother Pheme’s mother dies, they are sent to live with their cold-hearted Cousin Tirzah while their father hunts gold in the mountains of Colorado in 1882. While waiting for their father to return, the two befriend a nearby woodsman who gives them a sense of family that they desperately need. 146 pgs.
The Puppeteer’s Apprentice by D. Anne Love
A young orphan named Mouse lives and works at Dunston Manor in England during the Middle Ages. She escapes the manor and becomes the apprentice of a puppeteer. Mouse soon finds that the puppeteer holds secrets that may complicate her dreams of a better life. 185 pgs.
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
During World War II, Annemarie, a ten-year-old Danish girl, and her family help Jewish people escape the Nazis when they invade Denmark. Find out if Annemarie is able to save her friend Ellen from the cruelty of the Nazis in this exciting story. 137 pgs.
Galen: My Life in Imperial Rome by Marissa Moss
Galen is a twelve-year-old slave in ancient Rome. He spends his time in various activities including painting and having adventures. He soon discovers a plot to assassinate the Emperor Augustus. Will he be able to prevent it? Unpaged.
Mississippi Bridge by Mildred D. Taylor
Jeremy Simms, a 10-year-old white child living in Mississippi during the 1930s, watches a bus driver order all black passengers, including his friends the Logan family, off of a full bus when white passengers arrive late in a rainstorm. Ironically, the bus is involved in a terrible tragedy soon afterwards. 62 pgs.
The Ravenmaster’s Secret : Escape From the Tower of London by Elvira Woodruff A P
Eleven-year-old Forrest is the son of the Ravenmaster in the Tower of London. He befriends a prisoner, a young Scottish rebel named Maddy who will soon be executed, and must decide whether or not to help her escape from the Tower. 225 pgs.
JH FICTION (Grades 6-8)
The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary L. Blackwood
Young Widge, an indentured servant during Shakespearean times, is talented at shorthand. His master exploits his gift by forcing him to steal Shakespeare’s masterpiece Hamlet during the bard’s rehearsals of the play. When the plan falls apart, Widge finds himself as an actor at the Globe Theatre. 216 pgs. (Look for other titles featuring Widge.)
Code Talker : a Novel About the Navajo Marines of WWII by Joseph Bruchac A
Ned Begay has always held on to his Navajo language, even when attending a boarding school where using it was forbidden. In WWII, Begay and other Navajos are recruited by the Marines for a special assignment. They will be Code Talkers and will use their Navajo language to send secret coded messages that the Japanese enemy cannot understand. 231 pgs.
Blood on the River : James Town 1607 by Elisa Lynn Carbone
Twelve-year-old English orphan Samuel is sent on a voyage to the New World after being accused of stealing a necklace. He serves as Captain John Smith’s page and experiences firsthand the suffering and difficulties of the Jamestown Settlement’s founding.
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko A P
Moose’s father gets a job as a guard at Alcatraz Prison in 1935. He and his family find themselves living on the island of one of the most famous prisons ever. Moose must grow accustomed to life on an island prison, living with a severely autistic sister, attending a new school, and much more. 228 pgs.
The Hungry Year by Connie Brummel Crook
In 1787, twelve-year-old Kate and her family move from Albany, NY to Canada. After her father fails to return, Kate is left in charge of her two brothers. Will they find food in time?
201 pgs. (Also look for the sequel: The Perilous Year.)
Boy of the Painted Cave by Justin F. Denzel
Fourteen-year-old Tao, a Cro-Magnon prehistoric boy, longs to become a cave painter. Due to a bad foot and his social status, he is forbidden to do so and eventually becomes an outcast. His friendship with an artistic shaman could help him realize his dream. 158 pgs. (Also look for the sequel: Return to the Painted Cave)
The Broken Blade by William Durbin
Thirteen-year-old Pierre La Page decides to take his injured father’s place on a 2400-mile long canoe trip from Montreal to trade furs in the 1800s. Along the way he faces many physical dangers, as well as difficult relations with his fellow shipmates. Will he survive the hardships of the three-month journey to Lake Superior? 163 pgs.
Sphinx’s Princess by Esther Freisner
In the 14th century B.C., the beautiful Nefertiti is taken from her family to be engaged to the crown prince of Egypt. At the royal court, she discovers intrigue and danger. Will she marry the prince that she has come to dislike? 370 pgs.
Petals in the Ashes by Mary Hooper
Hannah and her sister Sarah escape the plague in London during the 17th century. After the terror of the plague is over, they return to the city only to be caught in the Great Fire of 1666. Will the sisters be able to escape the horrors of the fire? 187 pgs. (The sisters’ adventures began in At the Sign of the Sugared Plum.)
The Kite Rider by Geraldine McCaughrean A P
In 13th century China, young Haoyou witnesses the death of his father who was chosen to be a ship’s “wind tester” by riding a kite in the sky. Eventually, he steps into his father’s shoes by becoming a famous kite rider at a traveling circus. 307 pgs.
Shackleton’s Stowaway by Victoria McKernan
Perce hides on Ernest Shackleton’s ship the Endurance for two days before he is discovered. The stowaway becomes the youngest member of crew on the ill-fated voyage to Antarctica. After the ship is stranded on the ice, the men must make a long and harrowing journey to safety through the brutal cold. 317 pgs.
Stones In Water by Donna Jo Napoli
Robert, an Italian boy living in Venice, happens to go to the movies just before Nazis invade the theater and send the audience to cruel work camps. He and his best friend Samuele endure the hardships of the camp while dreaming of escape. 209 pgs.
Under the Blood-Red Sun by Graham Salisbury A
Tomi leads an everyday life in Hawaii, playing baseball and worrying about his homework and a local bully, until the bombing of Pearl Harbor drastically changes what life with his Japanese family is like. 246 pgs. (Also look for the sequel: House of the Red Fish.)
Angel on the Square by Gloria Whelan A
Katya is a twelve-year-old aristocrat living with her family in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1913. Empress Alexandra chooses Katya’s mother to be her lady-in-waiting, bringing the family to live in her palace. Katya’s friend, Misha, shows her the suffering the royal family brings to peasants, which encourages Kayta’s opinion of the Russian czar’s rule to gradually change. 293 pgs.
Dragon’s Gate by Laurence Yep A
Fourteen-year-old Otter finally realizes his wish to work on the Transcontinental Railroad in Nevada when his Uncle Foxfire visits him in China in 1865. However, the dangerous hardships
Otter endures are the opposite of the America in his dreams. Will Otter be able to survive the hardships he faces while working? 273 pgs. (Look for other titles featuring Otter.)