50 Favorite Historical Fiction Children’s Picture Books
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Do you love books?
We are a book-loving family… like sometimes to a fault. We are all guilty of getting consumed in a book and letting other things slip…clean bedrooms, math, animals… In this post, I will share with you a round-up of our favorite picture books along with some of our favorite authors. I love it when people take the time to share what they enjoy as inevitably I find something new to explore. I hope you do too!
If you have read many of my other posts on home school, you know I love taking a literature-based approach to learning. History especially is so much easier to remember and relate to if it is in the context of a story. These books will give your child a good introduction to the topic and discussion of history.
The books in this post will most likely appeal to children ages 12 and under. I hate to put that parameter on it, because my teenagers still enjoy reading these books to the little ones. Sometimes, I might still see them picking one up to read for themselves. Also, while some of these books portray actual historical events, others are just set in a historical time period. This is also teaching history. You are familiarizing your child with a place in time. First up are our favorite authors.
We love Patricia Polacco. She is one of those amazing people with so many stories. Often, her books are based on real-life events, either from her life or someone in her family. She approaches subjects in history that may be difficult or sad. She does this in a way that makes it totally relatable. I would say her books evoke compassion for others. Some of them are just fun, often portraying her Babushka (Grandma) and stories from her childhood.
Not to mention, she also illustrates her own books and is an amazing artist. If you snag one of her audiobooks they are read by her! We have loved nearly every one of her books. There have been a handful that I don’t care for. The following is my list of our favorites. The ones in bold deal with historical stories that are a bit more difficult.
Books by Patricia Polacco
- Thunder Cake
- An A from Miss Keller
- Thank you Mr. Falker
- The Bee Tree
- The Art of Miss Chew
- Chicken Sunday
- Holes in the Sky
- When Lightening Comes in a Jar
- The Mermaid’s Purse
- The Blessing Cup
- Just Plain Fancy
- John Philip Duck
- Pink and Say
- The Butterfly
- Tucky Jo and Little Heart
- Rechenka’s Eggs
- Mrs. Katz and Tush
Mr. McCloskey’s books are so sweet. I include these in history because they give a picture of what it was like to live in a different time in history. My children all love his books. His stories typically take place in New England. He also illustrates his own books, and I love his art. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Make Way for Ducklings
- “> One Morning in Maine
- Blueberries for Sal
- Burt Dow Deep Water Man
- Homer Price
I had to list Mrs. MacLachlan because she wrote one of my all-time favorite children’s books. As I was putting this together I realized she wrote many other books that I haven’t read, now, I want to! Below are the ones I am familiar with, my favorite is number 1.
Virginia Lee Burton
My older boys especially loved Burton’s books when they were little. She often writes about big machines of her day. The stories reflect the changes of the time which was the 1930’s-50″s. She illustrates her own books. These are three of our favorites.
My Mother-in-law turned us on to this author, and we just adore his books! The stories take place in England during the 1930’s-1950’s. James Herriot (not his real name) was a country Vet in real life. Many of his experiences inspired the stories. I thought the history of his life was interesting when I read about it here. But, I’m kind of a nerd like that. Below are some of our favorite stories. The links below are to one book, his Treasury for Children, I believe it contains all of the stories listed.
The following list contains some historical fiction and some true stories.
Some of these books deal with tough subjects like slavery, poverty, or death. I like to read hard things to my children. Not to scare them or make them sad, but to shape their worldview. We live a life of privilege. I want them to know that, and be thankful.
- A Book for Black-Eyed Susan by Judy Young
- Sisters of Scituate Light by Stephen Krensky
- Running Shoes by Frederick Lipp
- A Voice of Her Own By Kathryn Lasky
- “>The Wagon by Tony Johnston
- Freedom Ship by Doreen Rappaport
- The School is Not White by Doreen Rappaport
The following is a list of just really good picture books, not all are history related.
- The Quiltmakers Gift (we love, love, love this book) by Jeff Brumbeau and Gail de Marcken
- Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick
- Just Like Floss by Kim Lewis
- No Whining by Janice C. Villnerve–it’s funny to me that this is one of my kids favorites. It teaches that you don’t get what you want when you whine. Mama Kitty Cat is 100% consistent in her training! I think the author intended to write more books in this series, but I have never found more.
- The Big Big Sea by Jennifer Eachus
- Sam the Minuteman by Nathaniel Benchley
- Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
- Mama do you love me? by Barbara M. Joosse
Where to get these books?
When we lived in the city, we would check most of our books out from the library. Since moving to the country, we are no longer within walking distance of our local library. Therefore, we own more books. Of course, you can buy them on Amazon, but I also like to look for my favorite titles used. Discover Books is one place I like to get used books. Here is a referral link, with this you will get 15% off your entire order. Link here
Please share some of your favorite children’s picture books in the comments below! We love checking out other’s favorites as well!
What a great resource for me to use with my homeschooling! I’m bookmarking this one for future planning, thanks!
So glad it is a good resource for you!
Oh you have compiled such a wonderful list!!! Those are some of my very favorites as well! I absolutely love the James Herriot stories so very much.
Love this so much! My kids have loved to read ever since they’ve been little and it’s helped them so much in life. What a great resource!
Happy day friend!
I am so glad to hear that reading has been instrumental in your children’s lives. It is a blessing!
Wow I loved this list… so many I have never heard of! Are you a Charlotte Maso homeschooler?
That’s funny because I didn’t know who Charlotte Mason was until a few years ago. I read about her philosophy of teaching and realized that was pretty much my approach. I am glad you liked the list!
Such a great list! We are a family of readers too. There are several on the list that we’ll need to look into reading!
I am so glad!
Nice thorough list! Will need to give these ideas to the kids!
I kept a small collection of books after my kids grew up thinking someday their kids would like to read them. I have some of the ones you suggested. A favorite of my boys was Verdi, by Joanne’s Cannon.