Recommended Books for Elementary Teachers

Compiled by Julie Waugh of Richland 2's School for Inquiry and TAHSC Master Teacher.


Early Exploration

American Revolutionary War
  • Historical Fiction Novels

  • Colonial Times
  • Historical Fiction Novels
  • The Constitution
  • Historical Fiction Novels
  • The Civil War
  • Historical Fiction Novels
  • Westward Movement
  • Historical Fiction Novels
  • Turn of the Century Immigration
  • Historical Fiction Novels
  • Turn of the Century, Pre-World War I
    Industrial Revolution/Inventions
    World War I
    1920's, 1930's, and the Great Depression
  • Historical Fiction Novels
  • World War II
  • Historical Fiction Novels
  • 20th Century
    "Becoming Historians" Books

    Early Exploration

    Across The Wide Dark Sea: The Mayflower Journey, by Jean Van Leeuwen, Illus., by Thomas Allen Dial Books, 1995
    A tale of the journey to Plimoth Plantation and its settlement from a boy's perspective. It is a nice picture book to set the scene.

    Around the World in a Hundred Years, by Jean Fritz, Illus. Anthony Venti Paperstar, 1994
    This book contains chapters of many of the early explorers (Diaz, Columbus, da Gamma, Cabral, Vespucci, Ponce De Leon, Balboa, Magellan). It is well written and a great resource for Explorers study.

    Encounter, by Jane Yolen, Illus. David Shannon Harcourt Brace, 1992
    This unique book about the explorations of Christopher Columbus is written from the perspective of a young boy on the island of San Salvador. It is nicely paired with Peter Sis' book that follows.

    The First Thanksgiving, by Jean Craighead George, Illus. Thomas Locker Paperstar, 1993
    Tells the story of its title, and is a great tool for tackling misconceptions about the first Thanksgiving.

    Follow the Dream, by Peter Sis Knopf, 1991
    An intriguing look into the life of Christopher Columbus that includes his childhood.

    Samuel Eaton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy, by Katie Waters, Photos, by Russ Kendall Scholastic, 1993
    Good photographs taken at Plimoth Plantation give a glimpse of what life may have been like for a young pilgrim boy. Good annotated information about sources in the back. Goes well with Sarah Morton's Day and Tapenum's Day by the same author to give different perspectives.

    Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl, by Kate Waters, Photos, by Russ Kendall Scholastic, 1989
    Similar to the book about Samuel Eaton, but from Sarah's perspective. I love the part of this book where it shows all of the layers of clothing she puts on in the morning.

    Thunder From the Clear Sky, by Marcia Sewall Atheneum, 1995
    This book tells the story when the Pilgrims meet the Wompanoags from each perspective.

    Stranded at Plimoth Plantation 1626, by Gary Bowen Harper Trophy, 1998
    Written in the format of a journal of a thirteen year old boy, this book recreates life on Plimoth Plantation. It is based on extensive research.

    Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times, by Kate Waters, Photos, by Russ Kendall Scholastic, 1996
    This book is much like Kate Waters other listed above, yet from an Indian's perspective. It is a delightful trio of books.

    Who's That Stepping on Plimoth Rock?, by Jean Fritz, Illus., by J.B.Handelsman Scholastic, 1975
    Jean Fritz weaves the story of how Pilgrims came to Pliymouth and the longer story of Plymouth Rock.

    Colonial Times

    Colonial Kids, by Laurie Carlson Chicago Review Press, 1997
    An activity resource for all sorts of hands-on ideas that connect to colonial times.

    The Seasons Sewn, by Ann Whitford Paul, Illus., by Michael McCurdy Harcourt, 1996
    A glimpse of colonial life through the seasons, and through quilts! This book shows how family artifacts can tell history.

    Historical Fiction Novels (Colonial Times)

    A Gathering of Days, by Joan W. Blos Macmillan, 1979
    A Newberry Medal Book written in diary format about New England between 1830 and 1832. It includes very authentic language.

    The Sign of the Beaver, by Elizabeth George Speare Yearling, 1983
    A novel set in the Maine wilderness. A young boy awaits his family's return to settle there. He befriends a young Indian, and much of the novel is about what he learns from him.

    American Revolutionary War

    Heroines of the American Revolution, by Diane Silcox - Jarrett, Illus., by Art Seiden Scholastic, 1998
    Small chapters tell the story of different women who were involved in the American Revolution. A great resource and fascinating.

    Katie's Trunk, by Ann Turner, Illus., by Ron Himler Aladdin, 1992
    A great picture book that introduces Tories, and shows the war's impact on a family and small Mass. Town.

    A Picture Book of George Washington, by David Adler, Illus., by John and Alexandra Wallner Holiday House, 1989
    A basic timeline of George Washington's life. This is a good series, in general.

    A Picture Book of Thomas Jefferson, by David Adler, Illus., by John and Alexandra Wallner Holiday House, 1990
    A good introduction to the life of Thomas Jefferson. It includes that he had slaves." He said that everyone had a right to be free… But still, throughout his life, he had slaves of his own."

    Revolutionary Medicine, by C. Keith Wilbur Globe Pequot, 1980
    This deliciously gory book details medical practices during the 1700s in words and drawings. It is a fascinating glimpse of the realities of health and medicine during that time.

    Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?, by Jean Fritz, Illus., by Trina Schart Hyman Scholastic, 1976
    A fairly detailed look at John Hancock's life and the important events that were part of it. Most of Jean Fritz's resources are worth having.

    Historical Fiction Novels (American Revolutionary War)

    The Fighting Ground, by Avi Harper Trophy, 1984
    An interesting novel written about one day in the life of a young boy who goes to fight in the Revolutionary War. An interesting addition is the Hessian Troops he comes across in New Jersey. Some of the book is written in both English and German.

    My Brother Sam is Dead, by James and Christopher Collier Macmillan, 1974
    This novel is set in a Connecticut town that supported the King of England during the American Revolution. One of the main characters goes to fight for the American Revolutionary Army. It's a challenging read.

    The Constitution

    A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution, by Betsy and Giulio Maestro Mulberry, 1987
    A concise story of the creation of the Constitution.

    Shh! We're Writing the Constitution, by Jean Fritz, Illus., by Tomie de Paola Putnam, 1987
    A detailed story of the creation of the Constitution with great end notes to check information.

    Historical Fiction Novels (The Constitution)

    Once On this Island, by Gloria Whelan HarperTrophy, 1995
    An adventurous novel set on Mackinac Island in Michigan about how a young girl takes care of the family farm while her father goes off to fight in the war.

    The Civil War

    Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky, by Faith Ringgold Crown Publishers, 1992
    A fantastical picture book that introduces major players in the Underground Railroad movement.

    Behind the Blue and the Gray: The Soldier's Life in the Civil War, by Delia Ray Puffin, 1991
    A part of the Young Readers' History of the Civil War and a terrific resource book with detailed drawings and photographs.

    The Blue and the Gray, by Eve Bunting, Illus., by Ned Bittinger Scholastic, 1996
    A story set in current time about two boys as they learn about the Civil War battleground where they are building their new house. Eve Bunting is a wonderful author.

    The Boys War: Confederate and Union Soldiers Talk About the Civil War, by Jim Murphy Clarion, 1990
    A great detailed resource about the Civil War from the Battlefront. Amazing photographs! (Some a bit gruesome and graphic.)

    Cecil's Story, by George Ella Lyon, Illus., by Peter Catalanot Orchard, 1991
    A boy thinks about the possible scenarios that exist for him at home if his father goes off to fight in the Civil War. Beautiful, simple text.

    Civil War: A Library of Congress Book, by Martin Sandler Harper Collins, 1996
    A good general book about the Civil War. Interesting layout and photos.

    The Civil War: A View in Close-Up 3D, by Marc Frey Running Press, 1999
    Very cool pop-up book about the Civil War! Includes first person accounts and primary sources.

    Follow the Drinking Gourd, by Jeannette Winter Knopf, 1988
    A beautiful, simple language story about the Underground Railroad. Has an accompanying song students can learn and sing through the book.

    Harriet and the Promised Land, by Jacob Lawrence Simon & Schuster, 1968
    The powerful story of the life of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad in simple, powerful poetry.

    If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War, by Kay Moore, Illus., by Anni Matsick Scholastic, 1994
    A good overview of the war as it relates to daily life during the time.

    If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad, by Ellen Levine, Illus., by Larry Johnson Scholastic, 1992
    Good background information about slavery and its role in the Civil War.

    Lincoln: A Photobiography Russell Freedman Clarion, 1987
    An unusual Newberry Medal winner as it is a biography. Fantastic photos and other primary sources.

    A Nation Torn; The Story of How the Civil War Began, by Delia Ray Puffin, 1990
    A part of the Young Readers' History of the Civil War and another book in this good resource series that gives detailed history about the beginning of the Civil War.

    Nettie's Trip South, by Ann Turner, Illus., by Ronald Himler Aladdin, 1987
    Based on a true story. A ten-year old northern girl encounters the ugly realities of slavery when she visits Richmond, Virginia, and sees a slave auction.

    Now Let Me Fly, by Dolores Johnson Macmillan, 1993
    A fictionalized account of the life of Minna, kidnapped as a girl in Africa, as she endures the harsh life of a slave on a southern plantation in the 1800s and tries to help her family survive.

    A Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln, by David Adler, Illus., by Johna and Alexandra Wallner Holiday House, 1989
    Follows the life of the popular president, from his childhood on the frontier to his assassination after the end of the Civil War.

    Pink and Say, by Patricia Polacco Philomel, 1994
    A beautifully written book! Say Curtis describes his meeting with Pinkus Aylee, a black soldier, during the Civil War, and their capture by southern troops. Don't miss this one.

    Rebels Against Slavery; American Slave Revolts, by Patricia and Frederick McKissack Scholastic, 1996
    Detailed chapters of many who led and were important in slave rebellions.

    Secret Signs; Along the Underground Railroad, by Anita Riggio Boyd Mils Press, 1997
    A deaf child helps pass information along the Underground Railroad by using his paintbrush and a panoramic egg.

    A Separate Battle; Women and the Civil War, by Ina Chang Penguin, 1991
    Part of the Young Readers' History of the Civil War. A great resource in this series that focuses on the lives of women.

    Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, by Deborah Hopkinson, Illus., by James Ransome Knopf, 1993
    The story of Clara, who sews a secret map of the Underground Railroad into a quilt.

    Till Victory is Won; Black Soldiers in the Civil War, by Zak Mettger Puffin, 1994
    Part of the Young Readers' History of the Civil War. A wonderful resource in this series about Black soldiers in the Civil War.

    The Wagon, by Tony Johnston, Illus., by James Ransome Tambourine, 1996
    A young boy is sustained by his family as he endures the difficulty of being a slave, but when he finally gains his freedom, his joy is tempered by the death of President Lincoln.

    Historical Fiction Novels (The Civil War)

    Bull Run, by Paul Fleishman HarperTrophy, 1993
    This interesting novel is written about the Battle at Bull Run from sixteen different perspectives. It includes voices from all walks of life, and from North and South alike. Includes a guide of the parts in the back so that it can be performed as a reader's theater.

    Charley Skedaddle, by Patricia Beatty Troll, 1987
    The story of a young Civil War drummer, and all of the terrible realities war brings.

    Jim-Dandy, by Hadley Irwin Troll, 1994
    Living after the Civil War on a Kansas homestead with his stern stepfather, thirteen-year-old Caleb raises a beloved colt and becomes involved in General Custer's raids on the Cheyenne.

    A Light in the Storm; The Civil War Diary of Amelia Martin, by Karen Hesse Scholastic, 1999 (A Dear America Book)
    In 1860 and 1861, while working in her father's lighthouse on an island off the coast of Delaware, fifteen-year-old Amelia records in her diary how the Civil War is beginning to devastate her divided state.

    Mr. Lincoln's Drummer, by Clifton Wisler Puffin, 1995
    Recounts the courageous exploits of Willie Johnston, an eleven-year-old Civil War drummer, who becomes the youngest recipient of the Medal of Honor.

    Soldier's Heart, by Gary Paulsen Random House, 1998
    The story of a young soldier who served in the First Minnesota Volunteers and his treacherous journey through the war and after. Very powerful and realistic.

    Westward Movement

    Aurora Means Dawn, by Scott Russell Sanders, Illus., by Jill Kastner Macmillan, 1989
    After traveling from Connecticut to Ohio in 1800 to start a new life in the settlement of Aurora, the Sheldons find that they are the first family to arrive there and realize they will be starting a new community by themselves. Beautiful, simple language.

    Beyond the Mississippi; Early Expansion of the United States, by Angela Herb Lodestar, 1996
    A chapter resource that examines the exploration and migration of trappers, missionaries, and explorers west of the Mississippi after the Louisiana Purchase and the expedition of Lewis and Clark.

    Black Women of the Old West, by William Loren Katz Atheneum, 1995
    A good resource on the unique and interesting role of Black women as they blazed new territory.

    Cassie's Journey; Going West in the 1860's, by Brett Harvey, Illus., by Deborah Hogan Ray Holiday House, 1988
    A young girl relates the hardships and dangers of traveling with her family in a covered wagon from Illinois to California during the 1860s.

    Children of the Wild West, by Russell Freedman Houghton Mifflin, 1983
    Brilliant actual photographs help tell the story of childrens' lives on their families' journeys west.

    Cowboys: A Library of Congress Book, Harper Collins, 1994
    An overview of the life of a cowboy with great pictures and copies of primary sources.

    Daily Life in a Covered Wagon, by Paul Erikson Puffin, 1994
    Kind of like an"Eyewitness Book" layout of the artifacts, pictures, and supplies you needed for a trip west. A great supporting resource for readings about westward movement.

    Dandelions, by Eve Bunting, Illus., by Greg Shed Harcourt Brace, 1995
    A beautifully told and illustrated story about Zoe and her family as they move out to the desolate Nebraska territory.

    I Have Heard of A Land, by Joyce Carol Thomas, Illus., by Floyd Cooper Harper Trophy, 1998
    Beautiful, simple text about an African-American woman who endures on her journey west. Would be a nice companion to Black Women of the Old West.

    New Hope, by Henri Sorenson Puffin, 1995
    Tells the story of a family who traveled from Denmark and west to build a home that was the beginning of a new town, New Hope.

    Only Opal; The Diary of a Young Girl, by Barbara Cooney Philomel, 1994
    Based on an actual journal of a young girl who lived in Oregon at the turn of the century, this is a great read aloud. It is a powerful example of the importance of journaling.

    Prairies, by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, Photos, by William Munoz Holiday House, 1996
    A great book about the biology and ecology of the prairie. Integrates science into a study of westward movement well.

    Rachel's Journal; The Story of a Pioneer Girl, by Marissa Moss Harcourt Brace, 1998
    Rachel's' fictional journal of her families journey on the Oregon Trail. Kids love Marissa Moss' realistic journal with writing all over the page style.

    The Sweetwater Run; The Story of Buffalo Bill Cody and the Pony Express, by Andrew Glass Dell, 1996
    Buffalo Bill Cody recounts his adventures as a teenage rider for the Pony Express. Includes a history of the Pony Express and facts about Cody's life.

    The Way West; Journal of a Pioneer Woman, by Amelia Knight, Illus., by Michael McCurdy Aladdin, 1993
    An adaptation of the diary of Amelia Stewart Knight, who traveled with her husband and seven children from Iowa to the Oregon Territory in 1853.

    They're Off!; The Story of the Pony Express, by Cheryl Harness Simon & Schuster, 1996
    Relates the history of the Pony Express from when it began to carry messages across the American West in April 1860 until the telegraph replaced it in October 1861.

    Historical Fiction Novels (Westward Movement)

    Bound For Oregon, by Jean Van Leeuwen Puffin, 1994
    A fictionalized account of the journey made by nine-year-old Mary Ellen Todd and her family from their home in Arkansas westward over the Oregon Trail in 1852.

    Dear Levi; Letters From the Overland Trail, by Elvira Woodruff Knopf, 1994
    Twelve-year-old Austin Ives writes letters to his younger brother describing his three-thousand-mile journey from their home in Pennsylvania to Oregon in 1981.

    Turn of the Century Immigration

    An Ellis Island Christmas, by Maxine Leighton, Illus., by Dennis Nolan Puffin, 1992
    Having left Poland and braving ocean storms to join her father in America, Krysia arrives at Ellis Island on Christmas Eve.

    American Too, by Elisa Bartone, Illus., by Ted Lewin Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1996
    The story of Rosina and how she arrived with her family from Italy. A good description of tenement life.

    Coming to America; The Story of Immigration, by Betsy Maestro, Illus., by Susannah Ryan Scholastic, 1996
    A nice overview of immigration through time, and why people did it. Focuses on the turn of the century immigration especially.

    Grandfather's Journey, by Allen Say Houghton Mifflin, 1993
    A beautiful book! A Japanese American man recounts his grandfather's journey to America which he later also undertakes, and the feelings of being torn by a love for two different countries.

    Grandmother and the Runaway Shadow, by Liz Rosenberg, Illus., by Beth Peck Harcourt Brace, 1996
    Relates how Grandmother, accompanied by a mischievous shadow, emigrated from Russia to the United States.

    I Was Dreaming to Come to America; Memories from the Ellis Island Oral History Project Selected and Illus., by Veronica Lawlor Puffin, 1995
    In their own words, coupled with hand painted collage illustrations, immigrants recall their arrival in the United States. Includes brief biographies and facts about the Ellis Island Oral History Project.

    If Your Name Was Changed at Ellis Island, by Ellen Levine, Illus., by Wayne Parmenter Scholastic, 1993
    A good general information book about what it was like to arrive at Ellis Island as an immigrant.

    Immigrant Kids, by Russell Freedman Scholastic, 1980
    Description and wonderful photographs of children's lives as immigrants to the United States.

    Liberty, by Lynn Curlee Scholastic, 2000
    The complete story of the creation and installation of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. Fascinating.

    A Very Important Day, by Maggie Rugg Herold Morrow, 1995
    A modern story of how you become an American citizen. It is a great comparison to turn of the century immigration and emphasizes that many people still immigrate to the United States.

    Historical Fiction Novels (Turn of the Century Immigration)

    Letters From Rifka, by Karen Hesse Puffin, 1993
    Powerful novel about a young Jewish girl who flees her homeland of Russia for the United States. Written as letters back and forth between her and her cousin Tovah.

    The Orphan of Ellis Island, by Elvira Woodruff Scholastic, 1997
    The story of a boy who gets lost in the Ellis Island Museum and goes back in time to Italy, where he immigrates to America.

    Turn of the Century, Pre-World War I

    Across America on an Emigrant Train, by Jim Murphy Clarion, 1993
    Combines an account of Robert Louis Stevenson's experiences as he traveled from New York to California by train in 1879 and a description of the building and operation of railroads in nineteenth-century America.

    Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure, by Don Brown Houghton Mifflin, 1997
    An amazing story about Alice Ramsey, who drives her car across the country on 1909. A wonderful glimpse of how hard travel was then.

    A Picture Book of Hellen Keller, by David Adler, Illus., by John and Alexandra Wallner Holiday House, 1990
    A brief biography of the woman who overcame her handicaps of being both blind and deaf.

    Orphan Train Rider; One Boy's True Story, by Andrea Warren Houghton Mifflin, 1996
    One boy's actual story of traveling west on an orphan train and his life there.

    Polar The Titanic Bear, by Daisy Corning Stone Spedden, Illus., by Laurie McGaw Little, Browm & Co. 1994
    The story of the Titanic from the perspective of a toy bear who's on the journey. Great photos and copies of primary sources included in the story.

    Snowflake Bentley, by Jaqueline Martin, Illus., by Mary Azarian Houghton Mifflin, 1998
    The story of Wilson Bentley, who spent his life photographing snowflakes. A wonderful Newberry Medal story.

    Industrial Revolution/Inventions

    Accidents May Happen; Fifty Inventions Discovered by Mistake, by Charlotte Foltz Jones, Illus., by John O'Brien Delacorte Press, 1996
    Individual small stories about different things that were invented by mistake. Delightful.

    Growing Up in Coal Country, by Susan Bartoletti Houghton Mifflin, 1996
    Good detailed resource with photographs about life in a coal town.

    Industrial Revolution, A Living History Book, edited by John Clare Harcourt Brace, 1993
    Original photographs, primary sources, and some reenacted photos bring the Industrial Revolution to life.

    Inventors, by Martin Sandler Harper Collins, 1996
    A Library of Congress Book. Great pictures and copies of primary sources make this a great introduction to various inventions.

    Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor, by Russell Freedman Scholastic, 1994
    Great narrative that accompanies Lewis Hine's photographs tell the story of child labor.

    Toilets, Toasters & Telephones: The How and Why of Everyday Objects, by Susan Rubin Illus., by Elsa Warnick Scholastic, 1998
    Shares the invention of many of those household products we use everyday.

    World War I – Great Depression

    First World War Living History Book, Edited by John Clare Harcourt Brace, 1994
    Through photos, illustrations, and descriptions, this book provides a great visual glimpse into World War I.

    Little Jim's Gift; An Appalachian Christmas Story, by Gloria Houston, Illus., by Thomas Allen Paper Star, 1998
    While hoping to convince his stern father that he will soon be a man, almost eleven year old Littlejim uses his hard earned savings for his sister's Christmas gift.

    Mailing May, by Michael Tunnell, Illus., by Ted Rand Greenwillow, 1997
    In 1914, because her family cannot afford a train ticket to her grandmother's town, May gets mailed and rides the mail car on the train to see her grandmother.

    Waiting for the Evening Star, by Rosemary Wells, Illus., by Susan Jeffers Puffin, 1997
    Growing up between 1909 and 1917, Berty enjoys the slow rolling wheel of time on his Vermont farm and cannot understand his older brother's desire to see other parts of the world.

    1920's, 1930's, and the Great Depression

    All Around Town; The Photographs of Richard Samuel Roberts, by Dinah Johnson Henry Holt, 1998
    Richard Roberts photographs portray a beautiful glimpse of life in Columbia, SC in the late 1920s. They provide details about everyday life. The simple words that accompany them make this book a good read aloud as well.

    Amelia and Elanor Go For a Ride, by Pam Munoz Ryan, Illus., by Brian Selznick. Scholastic, 1999
    A fictionalized, delightful story of the flight that Amelia Earhart and Elanor Roosevelt took together in 1933.

    Buddy (Based on the True Story of Gertrude Lintz), by William Joyce Harper Collins, 1997
    Gertrude Lintz, a New York socialite who believes that animals should not be caged, raises a gorilla named Buddy and reluctantly realizes that he is not suited for city life.

    Cotton Mill Town, by Kathleen Hershey, Illus., by Jeanette Winter Dutton, 1993
    A visit to Grandma's lyrical moments of peace and pleasure, picking huckleberries or catching tadpoles in the goldfish pond. A southern mill town described.

    A Golden Age, by Martha Wickham, Illus., by Dan Brown Odyssey, Smithsonian, 1996
    While on a field trip to the Smithsonian Museum of American History, Emma imagines that she is her grandmother, sitting with her family listening to the radio as the end of World War II is announced.

    Eleanor, by Barbara Cooney Scholastic, 1996
    A simple biography of Eleanor Roosevelt before she became the first lady.

    Good-bye, Charles Lindbergh, by Louise Borden, Illus., by Thomas Allen Aladdin, 1998
    A farm boy meets his hero, Colonel Charles Lindbergh, when he lands his airplane in a field near Canton, Mississippi, in 1929. Based on a true story.

    The Hindenburg, by Patrick O'Brien Henry Holt, 2000
    Describes the development and early flights of airships and the disastrous crash of the Hindenburg at an airfield in New Jersey in 1937.

    Restless Spirit; The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange, by Elizabeth Partridge Scholastic, 1998
    A Biography of Dorothea Lange including many of the photographs she took when she was hired by the WPA to capture the poverty during the Great Depression.

    Rose's Journal; The Story of a Girl During the Great Depression, by Marissa Moss Harcourt, 2001
    Rose keeps a journal of her family's difficult times on their farm during the days of the Dust Bowl in 1935. Written in quintessential Marissa Moss style.

    Rushmore, by Lynn Curlee Scholastic, 1999
    Details the idea and creation of Mount Rushmore, and the life of its' creator, Gutzon Borglum.

    The Thanksgiving Visitor, by Truman Capote, Illus., by Beth Peck Knopf, 1996 (Orig. Pub. 1968)
    A boy recalls his life with an elderly relative in rural Alabama in the 1930s and the lesson she taught them one Thanksgiving Day about dealing with a bully from school.

    The Year of the Ranch, by Alice McLerran, Illus., by Kimberly Root Viking, 1996
    In 1919 Papa, Mama, and their four daughters homestead a tract of land near Yuma, Arizona, and try to turn a desert mesa into a farmland and a shack into a home.

    Historical Fiction Novels (1920's, 1930's, and the Great Depression)

    Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis Delacorte, 1999
    This Newberry Medal is a great picture of the Great Depression, and the music that was popular then. Ten year old Bud, a motherless boy living in Flint, Michigan during the Great Depression, escapes a bad foster home and sets out in search of the man he believes to be his father - the renowned bandleader H.E.Calloway of Grand Rapids.

    A Long Way From Chicago; A Novel in Stories, by Richard Peck Scholastic, 1998
    This vivid glimpse of life during the Great Depression will make you howl with laughter thanks to the narrators Grandma. Grandma is a hoot! A Newberry honor book.

    Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse Scholastic, 1997
    This brilliant book captures life in the Oklahoma Panhandle during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. It is written in free verse poetry, each poem packed with history and interpretation. Don't miss this one.

    Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor Dial Books, 1976
    This Newberry Award book details a black southern family's difficult year during the Great Depression as a Black family living in the South. Powerful.

    World War II

    After the War Was Over, by Michael Foreman Arcade, 1995
    An autobiographical sketch of life in England after WWII.

    All Those Secrets of the World, by Jane Yolen Little, Brown & Co., 1991
    When the father of four-year-old Janie goes off to war, the rest of the family moves to the grandparents' home on the Chesapeake Bay, where Janie learns a secret of the world which helps her understand her father's long absence.

    Anne Frank; Beyond the Diary: A Photographic Remembrance, by Scott Foresman, 1995
    Associates of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam have set the diary in larger context, fleshing out the family history and briefly explaining Hitler's rise to power and events of World War II. Added details include black-and-white photographs, maps, a chronology, and notes on the different versions of Anne's diary.

    Baseball Saved Us, by Ken Mochizuki, Illus., by Dom Lee Lee & Low, 1993
    Shorty, a young boy living in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II, helps form a baseball league and finds himself at bat in the final inning of the championship game.

    The Bracelet, by Yoshiko Uchida, Illus., by Joanna Yardley Paperstar, 1993
    During World War II, when Emi and her family are imprisoned in an internment camp for Japanese Americans, the young girl discovers that, although so much has been taken away from her, she will never lose the memories of friends and home that she carries in her heart. Realistic watercolors illustrate the affecting story, and an afterword comments on the abrogation of Japanese Americans' civil rights that took place in 1942.

    But No Candy, by Gloria Houston, Illus., by Lloyd Bloom Philomel, 1992
    This is a child's perspective of World War II through everyday events. During the war years, Lee, the daughter of a small-town grocer, measures the progress of the war by the diminishing supply of candy. Subtly, however, the impact of the war takes on greater implications. Bloom's stylized illustrations evoke impressions of the thirties and forties, complementing the sturdy, homespun qualities of the text.

    Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Cartoons of Theodore Seuss Geisel, by Richard Minear The New Press, 1999
    Many, many political cartoons, with interpretations, that Dr. Seuss created during World War II. Interesting, and a great engagement for students about World War II.

    Faithful Elephants : A True Story of Animals, People and War, by Yukio Tsuchiya, Illus., by Ted Lewin, Transl., by Tomoko T. Dykes Houghton Mifflin, 1988
    A sobering lesson about the horrors of war is depicted through the fate of three elephants at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo during World War II. "A moving and powerful statement about the insanity of war."

    Fireflies in the Dark: The Story of Friedl Dicker Brandeis and the Children of Terezin, by Susan Rubin Scholastic, 2000
    The story of one woman's remarkable art teaching in the Terezin Concentration camp.

    The Good Fight: How World War II Was Won, by Stephen Ambrose Athneum, 2001
    Highlights and great pictures of World War II. A good overview.

    Hiroshima No Pika, by Toshi Maruki William & Morrow, 1982
    The heartbreaking experiences of 7-year-old Mii and her parents, which began at 8:15 AM, August 6, 1945, when the atomic bomb "Little Boy" was dropped on the city of Hiroshima. "A forceful statement of the need for nuclear disarmament."--Publishers Weekly. "An extremely important book that should be bought and discussed with children in homes, schools, and libraries."

    I Never Saw Another Butterfly; Drawings and Poems From Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942–1944, Edited by Hana Volavkova Schocken, 1993
    Breathtaking poems and illustrations written by children in the Terezin concentration camp.

    Let the Celebrations Begin!, by Margaret Wild, Illus., by Julie Vivas Orchard Books, 1991
    There still exist toys that were made at the concentration camp at Belsen. Here, Miriam, 12, tells of secretly helping the women make these stuffed figures--an owl, a patchwork elephant- -for a party to be held for the children when they are liberated. The liberating soldiers finally come (“they stare back at us, oh, so strangely, making soft noises in their throats. They seem afraid to touch us—”), and, in the rejoicing that follows, the toys are shared. A heartbreakingly spare account, perfectly matched in gentle illustrations where ragged, emaciated figures shine with intelligence and, yes, a kind of subdued joy. An outstanding book, filled with reverent awe at the nobility of the human spirit.

    The Lily Cupboard/a Story of the Holocaust, by Shulamith Levey Oppenheim, Illus., by Ronald Himler Harper Trophy, 1995
    Miriam, a young Jewish girl, is forced to leave her parents and hide with strangers in the country during the German occupation of Holland.

    The Number on My Grandfather's Arm, by David A. Adler, Photos, by Rose Eichenbaum Union of Hebrew Congregations, 1987
    A young girl tells the story of her grandfather. He's a quiet, thoughtful man, and obviously kind, but he has the strange habit of always wearing a long sleeved shirt, even during the heat of the summer.

    One Yellow Daffodil : A Hanukkah Story, by David A. Adler, Illus., by Lloyd Bloom Voyage, 1999
    Holocaust survivor Morris Kaplan spends his days tending his flower shop and trying to ignore his emotional emptiness. Two of his youngest customers, Jonathan and Ilana, visit every Friday to buy flowers for their family's Sabbath. He is surprised when the children arrive on a Tuesday, until they explain that this bouquet is for the first night of Hanukkah. After Mr. Kaplan admits that he no longer observes holiday traditions, the children invite him to join their family festivities the following evening. Although the celebration brings forth painful memories—including one of a single daffodil growing in the mud at Auschwitz—the experience helps Morris begin reconnecting with humanity. Bloom's rich acrylic paintings lend an appropriately thoughtful tone to the pensive text. The story is only marginally connected with Hanukkah, but it lends itself to sharing on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

    Rose Blanche, by Roberto Innocenti Harcourt Brace, 1985
    This internationally acclaimed story of childhood-amid-war is told with remarkable depth and detail through Innocenti's award-winning text and artwork. Each illustration tells not only Rose Blanche's story, but a timeless story of innocence, selflessnes, and compassion in the midst of ignorance and destruction.

    Sadako, by Eleanor Coerr, Illus., by Ed Young Scott Foresman, 1997
    Rewriting her 1977 book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (1977) for a younger audience and using pastel illustrations first created for the award-winning videotape of the same name, this picture book tells the moving story of a young girl dying of leukemia as a result of the bombing of Hiroshima 10 years earlier. A remarkable, moving book.

    Shin's Tricycle, by Tatsuharu Kodama, Illus., by Noriyuki Ando, Transl., by Kazuko Hokumen-Jones Walker & Co., 1995
    The most disturbing war stories are those that humanize the statistics to make us imagine what it would be like for people like us. This grim, immediate account of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, translated from the Japanese, is told by a teacher who survived but who saw his child die in the explosion.

    So Far From the Sea, by Eve Bunting, Illus., by Chris Soentpiet Clarion, 1998
    When seven year old Laura and her family visit Grabdfather's grave at the Manzanar War Relocation Center, the Japanese American child leaves behind a special symbol.

    Twenty and Ten, by Claire Huchet Bishop, Illus., by William Paene Du Bois Puffin, 1991
    The story, based on an actual situation, describes how 20 Christian children used their wits and compassion to hide 10 Jewish children from the Nazis during World War II.

    When Mama Retires, by Karen Ackerman, Illus., by Alexa Grace Knopf, 1992
    Henry, Will, and Charley learn to do things around the house when Mama considers retiring from housework and becoming a wartime riveter.

    Historical Fiction Novels (World War II)

    The Art of Keeping Cool, by Janet Taylor Lisle Atheneum, 2000
    A brilliantly conceived, multi-layered novel explores the tensions within a family against a backdrop of the wider conflicts of World War II. Narrated by thirteen-year-old Robert, the story is both a mystery and an examination of a dysfunctional household, one dominated by the vindictive figure of the boy's grandfather. Because Robert's father had enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force before America's entry into the war, and because Robert and his mother could not manage their Ohio farm by themselves, they move to a small town on the coast of Rhode Island to be near Robert's paternal grandparents.

    The Devil's Arithmetic, by Jane Yolen Viking, 1998
    Hannah is tired of hearing about the Nazis during the Holocaust, but when she opens the door for Elijah at the Passover Seder, she is transported in time to 1940's Poland, where she is captured and put in a death camp. A girl named Rivka befriends her, teaching her how to fight the dehumanization of the camp and hold onto her identity.

    The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition Bantam, 1997, by Anne Frank, Edited by Miriam Pressler
    Anne Frank's diaries have always been among the most moving and eloquent documents of the Holocaust. This new edition restores diary entries omitted from the original edition, revealing a new depth to Anne's dreams, irritations, hardships, and passions. Anne emerges as more real, more human, and more vital than ever. If you've never read this remarkable autobiography, do so. If you have read it, you owe it to yourself to read it again.

    Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment, by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, James D. Houston Bantam, 1983
    During World War II a community called Manzanar was hastily created in the high mountain desert country of California, east of the Sierras. Its purpose was to house thousands of Japanese American internees. One of the first families to arrive was the Wakatsukis, who were ordered to leave their fishing business in Long Beach and take with them only the belongings they could carry. For Jeanne Wakatsuki, a seven-year-old child, Manzanar became a way of life in which she struggled and adapted, observed and grew. For her father it was essentially the end of his life.

    Lily's Crossing, by Patricia Reilly Giff, Reilly Giff Delacorte, 1997
    In the summer of 1944, 10-year-old Lily Mollahan grows increasingly irritated with the war overseas and its threat closer to home: "Was that all anyone thought about--news and the war?" Staying with her grandmother in Rockaway while her father heads for France and fighting, Lily becomes increasingly intrigued by another child, a Hungarian refugee. "Albert could really be a Nazi spy," she fantasizes. Imagination is one thing, lying another, and as her vacation draws on, the young heroine's tales become more dangerous than charming.

    Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry Houghton Mifflin, 1989
    A ten-year-old Danish girl's bravery is tested when her best friend is threatened by Nazis in 1943.

    Pearl Harbor Is Burning!: A Story of World War II (Once upon America), by Kathleen V. Kudlinski, Illus., by Ronald Himler Puffin, 1993
    A fast-paced, brief story of two boys living in Hawaii - one American and one Japanese American - who witness the attack on Pearl Harbor. Frank and Kenji have just become friends, and Frank is quickly overcoming his prejudice against nonwhites. The story is a page turner, and the positive change in Frank's feelings is realistic.

    Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, by Eleanor Coerr, Illus., by Ronald Himler Puffin, 1999
    Hiroshima-born Sadako is lively and athletic—the star of her school's running team. And then the dizzy spells start. Based on a true story, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes celebrates the extraordinary courage that made one young woman a heroine in Japan. Includes instructions on how to fold your own paper crane!

    Starring Sally J Freedman As Herself, by Judy Blume Yearling, 1986
    It is 1947, and Sally J. Freedman is convinced that old Mr. Zavodsky is none other than Hitler himself, hiding out in Miami Beach in disguise.

    The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss Ty Crowell, 1972
    “In this fine autobiographical novel, Johanna Reiss depicts the trials of her Dutch-Jewish family during World War II… The youngest of three daughters tells how she and her sister hid for more than two years in the upstairs room of the peasant Oosterveld family… Offers believable characterizations of unremarkable people who survived, if not thrived, and displayed an adaptability and generosity probably beyond their own expectations.”

    When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, by Judith Kerr Paper Star, 1997
    Nine-year-old Anna was too busy with schoolwork and friends in 1933 to take much notice of Adolf Hitler's rise to power in her native Germany. But when her father is suddenly, unaccountably missing, and her family flees Berlin in secrecy, Anna is forced to learn the skills needed to be a refugee and finds she's much more resilient than she thought.

    20th Century

    We Interrupt This Broadcast, by Joe Garner Sourcebooks, 1998
    This book highlights major events in the 20th Centruy as they were told to the American public. The book comes with two CDs so that you can listen to the actual recordings.


    Take a Stand; Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Government, by Daniel Weizman, Illus., by Jack Keely Price Stern Sloan, 1996
    Wonderful facts, pictures, and ideas book about how our government works, and how it connects to kids' lives.

    The Voice of the People: American Democracy in Action, by Betsy and Giulio Maestro Lothrop, Lee & Shapard, 1996
    A great basic guide to the voting process. It was very helpful in the last Presidential election!

    “Becoming Historians” Books

    My Backyard History Book, by David Weitzman Little, Brown & Co., 1975
    A wonderful book about how to make history personal and alive. A great read, and great ideas for activities.

    Motel of the Mysteries, by David Macaulay Houghton Mifflin, 1979
    This book is based in the future, when an archeologist comes upon a motel from our century. The fun comes when he starts naming and explaining the artifacts he discovers! A wonderful introduction to being a historical archeologist.