History is not my favorite topic to learn or to teach to my kids, but I have come to find it much more interesting thanks to the help of good books (and a few fun historical field trips). If you’d like to supplement your family’s history lessons with some captivating stories, here are some historically accurate books that my family highly recommends.
Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet Bishop
Imagine hiding 10 Jewish refugees with Nazis looming way too close for comfort. This is a page-turner with ample room for discussion!
A Fearless Leader: A Bible Story About Deborah by Rachel Spier Weaver and Anna Haggard
With beautiful illustrations, Deborah’s story is told in an understandable way for young readers.
Phoebe the Spy by Judith Griffin
Phoebe is signed up as George Washington’s housekeeper with the urgent instruction to listen to everything and report back to her father about someone who plans to harm George Washington. Phoebe has to keep her eyes and ears alert and muster all her courage in this fast-paced read.
John Deere, That’s Who! by Tracy Nelson Maurer
John Deere invented the steel plow that could cut through prairie soil, and children will love learning about his life.
The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto by Natalie Standiford
Read the admirable story of the dog who helped save a whole town in Alaska.
Mary on Horseback by Rosemary Wells
You’ve heard of Clara Barton and Florence Nightingale, but have you heard of Mary Breckinridge? This is an inspiring story of a lifesaving nurse dedicated to serving the Appalachian area in the early 1900s.
Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
I’d be remiss to not mention these timeless favorites! Laura’s various pioneer homes can be visited in Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Missouri. Caddie’s can be visited in Wisconsin.
High As A Hawk by T.A. Barron and Ted Lewin
This book, with some added plot points, tells the story of the youngest person to climb Colorado’s Longs Peak. You’ll be ready to hike a mountain after reading this!
Mustang Wild Spirit of the West by Margeurite Henry
For advanced readers or experienced listeners, this is the story of how mustangs came to have government protection with the help of Wild Horse Annie.
Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome
With beautiful illustrations, follow the story of Harriet Tubman’s life and mission to help slaves.
Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop: Slave Explorer by Heather Henson
This book reads more like a poem that tells a little-known story of a man who led tourists into Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.
Down the Colorado: John Wesley Powell, the One-Armed Explorer by Deborah Kogan Ray
A backpacking trek through the Grand Canyon has been one of the highlights of my life so far, and this book about the Canyon’s first known expedition is a wonderful read.
Sacajawea, Wilderness Guide by Kate Jassem
My kids love this story of the brave leaders who explored the west.
Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Wilson Bentley loved the details in snowflakes and worked hard to photograph the little wonders. See a glimpse of his work in this lovely book.
The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon: The True Story of Alan Bean by Dean Robbins
If you ever make it to the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, KS, you can see a few of artist/astronaut Alan Bean’s paintings that incorporate real moon dust. He remembered outer space as much more colorful than any photographs showed, so he painted the scenes as he remembered. Even if you don’t make it to the Cosmosphere, read this book!
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
When a Norwegian town needs to conceal a trove of gold, a group of kids and their sleds are given the task of moving the gold – right past the Nazi guards.
Michelangelo by Diane Stanley
Follow the life of the famous artist who much preferred sculpting over painting, and learn that painting the Sistine Chapel may have actually been a form of punishment for him!
Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille by Jen Bryant
When Louis Braille loses his sight, he creates a way for blind people to read in this must-read.
Snowmobile: Bombadier’s Dream Machine by Jules Older
My 7-year-old son LOVES this book.
When Jessie Came Across the Sea by Amy Hest
While this dandy is fiction, it’s a plausible story that puts readers in the shoes of a brave, determined immigrant.
Naming Liberty by Jane Yolen
A 2-in-1 story that tells how the beloved Lady Liberty came to be while a young immigrant (based on the author’s relatives) chooses an American sounding name for herself. This takes readers on a journey from Europe to America with beautiful illustrations.
I’m sure that this list just scratches the surface of the books that transform history from a bland timeline to a rich, memorable story, so please comment below with your history book recommendations.