Engaging Historical Fiction for Middle Schoolers

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

From Ancient Egypt to the Great Depression, these stories will bring different eras of history alive and spark your child's interest in learning about the past.

“The Midwife's Apprentice” by Karen Cushman

This Newbery Medal–winning book tells the story of Alyce, a homeless girl in medieval England who becomes a midwife’s apprentice. Alyce and her mentor, Jane, develop a complex relationship as Alyce learns about delivering babies. The fast-paced plot will keep your child entertained, while the historically-accurate details will teach her about the daily lives of women in the Middle Ages.

Ages: 9–12

“Esperanza Rising” by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Set in 1930, “Esperanza Rising” tells the story of a 13-year-old Mexican girl’s immigration to California, where she and her family become agricultural workers. This book will teach your child about the Great Depression as well as the Mexican Repatriation, an issue from this era that is often left out of history textbooks. This exciting, well-written story is a fictionalized account of the author’s grandmother’s journey to the United States.

Ages: 8–12

“Bud, Not Buddy” by Christopher Paul Curtis

With the Great Depression as a backdrop, Bud, who is tired of being placed with foster families, decides to run away and search for his father. He makes his way to Grand Rapids, where he finds the singer Herman E. Calloway, the man he believes is his father. A winner of the 2000 Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award, “Bud, Not Buddy” is an endearing story that paints an accurate picture of issues like homelessness, poverty, racism, and family issues.

Ages: 8–12

“Chains” by Laurie Halse Anderson

“Chains” tells the story of 13-year-old, Isabel, who is a slave for a Loyalist family in New York during the Revolutionary War. To help the Patriots, Isabel decides to spy on her owners, who have connections to the British military. The historical details of the book bring to life the founding era and shine light on what life was life for slaves during this period. A suspenseful story with complex characters, “Chains” will keep your child on the edge of her seat as she reads about Isabel’s rebellion.

Ages: 10–14

“The Devil's Arithmetic” by Jane Yolen

“The Devil's Arithmetic” is a Nebula Award–winning story of a young Jewish girl from New York who is transported back in time to 1942 Poland. Hannah, the protagonist, doesn’t understand why her grandfather talks about the war so often, but as she goes on her journey through a concentration camp, Hannah becomes a part of the history that haunts her family. An intense and powerful story, this book teaches readers the importance of remembering and understanding the past.

Ages: 10+

“Mara, Daughter of the Nile” by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

In Ancient Egypt, Mara is a slave in Queen Hatshepsut’s court. In the quest to gain her freedom, Mara becomes entangled in the fight for the Egyptian throne, serving as a double agent for two contenders. The story, full of suspense and intrigue, is a fictionalized account of the end of Queen Hatshepsut’s rule, and it is an excellent introduction to Ancient Egyptian culture.

Ages: 12+

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

Historical Fiction for Elementary Schoolers

Historical Fiction for High Schoolers

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