Engaging Historical Fiction for Elementary Schoolers

Historical fiction makes the past come alive through fascinating characters and stories. Teach your elementary schooler about history with these recommended titles.

Learning about history isn’t just about memorizing names, dates, and places. Bring history to life for your child by sharing these recommended historical-fiction books together.

“Sam The Minuteman” by Nathaniel Benchley

This is a story about Sam, the son of a Minuteman in the Revolutionary War. Both Sam and his dad must be ready at a moment’s notice to fight for America’s independence at the Battle of Lexington. This vividly illustrated book, which tells the story of the American Revolution from the eyes of a child, is a great title for budding readers.

Ages: 4–8

“Chang's Paper Pony” by Eleanor Coerr

This book tells the story of Chang, the son of Chinese immigrants who live in San Francisco during the 1850s Gold Rush. An accessible book for young readers, "Chang's Paper Pony" tells the exciting story of the title character’s quest for a pony, while also relaying historical details about people of different cultures working together in the gold mines during the California Gold Rush.

Ages: 4–8

“Seven Stories Up” by Laurel Snyder

By a stroke of magic, 12-year-old Annie wakes up in the year 1937, and meets Molly, a young girl who turns out to be Annie’s own grandmother. Through their friendship, readers can learn about Depression-era Baltimore and explore themes such as the disparity between the wealthy and poor. Readers have compared this book to the famous classic “The Secret Garden.”

Ages: 8–12

“Jacob's Rescue” by Malka Drucker and Michael Halperin

Jacob Gutgeld is a young Jewish boy who lives in Warsaw, Poland. His whole life changes when Nazis invade the country in 1939, and Jacob’s family is forced to go into hiding. Risking everything, the Roslan family protects Jacob and his brother. Each chapter ends on a cliffhanger, making readers keen to find out what happens next. Based on true events, this book introduces children to the history of the Holocaust.

Ages: 8–12

“Come Morning (Adventures in Time)” by Leslie Davis Guccione

Freedom Newcastle has always wanted to help his father conduct the Underground Railroad. After his dad is arrested, he assumes this role. As Freedom faces the dangers of the movement, he gains new respect for his father’s bravery. Set in Delaware in the 1850s, this book is an exciting story that immerses readers in the Civil War period.

Ages: 9+

“Frozen Summer” by Mary Jane Auch

In 1816, 12-year-old Remembrance Nye struggles to survive a harsh, cold summer in her family’s new frontier home in western New York. Things get even worse when her mother and baby sister disappear. This book keeps readers on the edge of their seats as they wonder how “Mem” and her family will overcome these challenges. The tale paints a realistic picture of how difficult frontier life was in the early years of the United States. While many reviewers have appreciated the book's suspense and realism, some have found it a bit dark for young readers.

Ages: 10+

“The Beaded Moccasins: The Story of Mary Campbell” by Lynda Durrant

“The Beaded Moccasins” tells the story of 12-year-old Mary Campbell, who was captured by American Indians from the Delaware tribe in 1759. At first, Mary is scared of the new life that she must make for herself, but she slowly comes to appreciate the values of the tribe. A fictionalized account of a real incident, this story is a coming-of-age tale with great character development and accurate historical details.

Ages: 11+

Want to find historical-fiction titles for children of other ages? Check out the other parts of this series:

Historical Fiction for Middle Schoolers

Historical Fiction for High Schoolers

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