Learn From the Past: 15+ Historical Fiction Titles for Ages 8-12

15 May

historical fiction 8-12 blogSummer is here! And that means loads of time for kids to experience books in all their glory. This is also a great time to encourage kids to read the books they choose (without having to worry about school assignments) and to try out new genres that they might be interested in learning more about.

This series will offer titles for toddlers to teens and include a variety of formats. Each week will focus on a different genre and will follow the same format:

  • Mondays – Titles for Ages 3-7
  • Tuesdays – Middle Grade Titles for Ages 8-12
  • Wednesdays – Young Adult Titles for Ages 13+
  • Thursdays – Nonfiction pairings
  • Friday – Recap of the Week

Middle Grade

aAuma’s Long Run by Eucabeth Odhiambo
Auma’s small Kenyan village is ravaged by the AIDS epidemic and Auma must choose between leaving to pursue her own future or staying behind to support her family.

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
Crow has lived her entire life on a small island off the coast of Massachusetts with her adopted father. A mysterious fire on the beach on a deserted island is the event that sets Crow on an adventure to learn about her past.

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
“The sole survivor of a smallpox epidemic on Spirit Island, Omakayas, then only a baby girl, was rescued by a fearless woman named Tallow and welcomed into an Ojibwa family on Lake Superior’s Madeline Island, the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker.” (Taken from Goodreads)

Bo at Ballard Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill
A close-up look at Alaska during the gold rush through the eyes of a little girl who has been adopted by some gold miners living in an Eskimo village.

Dash by Kirby Larson
“The moving story of a Japanese-American girl who is separated from her dog upon being sent to an incarceration camp during World War II.” (Taken from Goodreads)

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Jack is helping his elderly neighbor write obituaries during summer vacation in an off the wall adventure with Eleanor Roosevelt, Hells Angels and more.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
In 1899, Calpurnia has questions about the world around her and with the help of her grandfather, a naturalist, she begins to understand where she fits at the turn of the century.

Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm
In the middle of the Great Depression, Beans and his friends are learning what Key West looks like as a tourist destination, not just a home.

The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson
In 1854 cholera is spreading through London and although most people believe it travels through air, but Dr. Snow has a different theory and with the help of orphan, Eel they must prove the theory before everyone in the neighborhood gets sick.

bInside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Hà and her family are forced to flee Vietnam after the War and she must learn English, how to make friends and the strength of her family.

The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis
Charlie must accompany Cap’n Buck, the sharecropper to Detroit to retrieve some runaway slaves in payment for his father’s debts. Will Charlie’s guilty conscience or his survival instinct win out?

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
“Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.” (Taken from Goodreads)

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn’t know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore during the partition of India in 1947.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Delphine and her two younger sisters travel to Oakland, CA during the summer of 1968 to spend time with their mother, a member of the Black Panthers.

25797017Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban
Manami and her family are forced into an internment camp after Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941. Unfortunately, her dog, Yujiin isn’t allowed to come with them as Manami tries to understand her new reality without her best friend.

Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein by Jennifer Roy
Ali and his family live in Iraq and must survive 43 days as Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein goes to war with thirty-four nations lead by the United States, trying to remain calm – playing soccer in the streets, surviving bombings and wondering when his father will return from the front.

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper
“When the Ku Klux Klan’s unwelcome reappearance rattles Stella’s segregated southern town, bravery battles prejudice in this Depression-era tour de force from Sharon Draper.” (Taken from Goodreads)

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes tells a powerful story about young people who weren’t alive to witness this defining moment in history, but begin to realize how much it colors their every day.” (Taken from Goodreads)

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Ada’s mother prevented her from ever leaving her one-room apartment, but when her little brother is being shipped out of London to the countryside to be safe from the bombing, Ada sneaks out to join him. And so begins her new life.


6 Responses to “Learn From the Past: 15+ Historical Fiction Titles for Ages 8-12”

  1. readingthemiddle May 15, 2018 at 9:49 pm #

    I really loved Auma’s Long Run though I wonder if that was in part due to my age. I’m curious if middle school students will identify and appreciate this book? Also liked Towers Falling and The War that Saved My Life. Great list! Thanks!

    • literacious May 15, 2018 at 9:50 pm #

      I really liked it as well and I’d be interested to see if kids connect with the story. I wanted to offer some points in history they might not learn about in school.

  2. Kristin May 16, 2018 at 11:25 am #

    Do you recommend any of these books in particular for the younger end of middle grade? My daughter is almost 7 and reads well ahead of her grade-level but these books seem really intense. I’m trying to recognize that she’s growing up and can handle some mature content, but she’s still just a little girl… I don’t want to give her anything too heavy. Thanks!

    • literacious May 16, 2018 at 11:35 am #

      I’d definitely try Bo at Ballard Creek and The Birchbark House (similar time period to Little House on the Prairie). I’d also let her loose on the American Girl series (specifically the ones published years ago – great content, but accessible for kids). I’d also suggest you take a look at the Reading Beyond List (http://www.cbcbooks.org/reading-beyond/) which offers titles for strong readers, reading above their grade level! If you’re looking for more suggestions, shoot me an email at laura (at) literacious (dot) com and we can brainstorm some more titles. Hope this helps!


  1. Historical Fiction Booklist Recap | literacious - May 18, 2018

    […] Learn From the Past: 15+ Historical Fiction Titles for Ages 8-12 […]

  2. Genre Booklists for Summer 2018 | literacious - July 16, 2018

    […] Learn From the Past: 15+ Historical Fiction Titles for Ages 8-12 […]

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