Historical Fiction Read-Alouds: 5 Books to Teach Kids History

Historical fiction read-alouds rely on ideas, characters and imagery to help kids learn about a specific time period. Using narratives and other literary tools, these stories help make history come alive to be more easily learned and remembered.

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George Washington

1 - George Washington's Socks

Elvira Woodruff's George Washington's Socks describes the story of a group of friends who travel back in time to the Revolutionary War. Their journey leads them to meet Native Americans, cross the Delaware River and talk to George Washington himself. Written for children aged 9-12, the book explores the obvious hardships of war, as well as more subtle issues, such as not having enough supplies...or in this case socks.

On the Blue Comet

2 - On the Blue Comet

Written by Rosemary Wells for kids in grades 4-7, On the Blue Comet tells the tale of a young boy named Oscar who travels across land and time in search for his father. The book begins with the Stock Market Crash in 1929 and takes kids through different time periods including the onset of the Great Depression. Using quirky characters and historical figures like J.P. Morgan and Neslon Rockefeller, Wells writes a historical piece that both educates and entertains.

A Murder for Her Majesty

3 - A Murder for Her Majesty

In A Murder for Her Majesty Beth Hilgartner brings 16th century England to life for kids in grades 5-9. The story revolves around a young girl, Alice, who escapes to York after her father is murdered by agents of the crown. The novel evolves into a mystery intertwined with life in Elizabethan England. Hilgartner's storytelling ability and depictions of English life in the 16th century and 17th centuries keep kids interested and wanting more.

The Warlord

4 - The Warlord's Kites

The Warlord's Kite is Virginia Pilegard's fifth book about a young boy named Chuan. Kids in grades 2-4 reading the book are taken back to feudal China to enjoy the adventures of Chuan as he constructs and flies a kite to deter an enemy. Pilegard's colorful use of imagery and practical mathematics tricks push kids to read more and find out if Chuan can stop the invasion.

Number the Stars

5 - Number the Stars

Lowis Lowry's Number the Stars provides a fictional account of the Holocaust through the eyes of a 10-year-old Danish girl. The book tells the story of Annemarie, whose family hides her best friend during the Nazis' round up of Jews during World War II. Against the backdrop of the Holocaust, kids aged 10-14 reading the story gain both an understanding of the Nazis occupation in Europe and the heroic nature of people when faced with tough choices.

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