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BPLD

Historical Fiction Grades 3 - 6

 

Medieval

Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi

Falsely accused of theft and murder, an orphaned peasant boy in fourteenth-century England flees his village and meets a larger-than-life juggler who holds a dangerous secret.

 

Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman

The thirteen-year-old daughter of an English country knight keeps a journal in which she records the events of her life, particularly her longing for adventures beyond the usual role of women and her efforts to avoid being married off. 

 

Bound by Donna Jo Napoli

In a novel based on Chinese Cinderella tales, fourteen-year-old stepchild Xing-Xing endures a life of neglect and servitude, as her stepmother cruelly mutilates her own child's feet so that she alone might marry well.

 

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

Tree-ear, a twelve-year-old orphan in medieval Korea, lives under a bridge in a potters' village, and longs to learn how to throw the delicate celadon ceramics himself.

 

Colonial Period

Blood on the River: James Town 1607 by Elisa Lynn Carbone

Traveling to the New World in 1606 as the page to Captain John Smith, twelve-year-old orphan Samuel Collier settles in the new colony of James Town, where he must quickly learn to distinguish between friend and foe.

 

The Sacrifice by Kathleen Benner Duble

Two sisters, ages ten and twelve, are accused of witchcraft in Andover, Massachusetts in 1692 and await trial in a miserable prison while their mother desperately searches for some way to obtain their freedom.

 

18th Century

The Winter People by Joseph Bruchac

As the French and Indian War rages in October of 1759, Saxso, a fourteen-year-old Abenaki boy, pursues the English rangers who have attacked his village and taken his mother and sisters hostage.

 

Kaya and Lone Dog: A Friendship Story by Janet Beeler Shaw

Still grieving over the death of her friend, and missing her stolen horse and kidnapped younger sister, Kaya tries to earn the trust of a lone and starving dog who is about to have puppies. Includes historicalnotes on Nez Perce children.

 

Revolutionary War

Attack of the Turtle: A Novel by Drew Carlson

During the Revolutionary War, fourteen-year-old Nathan joins forces with his older cousin, the inventor David Bushnell, to secretly build the first submarine used in naval warfare.

 

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

Johnny Tremain, apprentice silversmith, takes on the cause of freedom as a message carrier for the Sons of Liberty in pre-Revolution Boston.

 

Storyteller by Patricia Reilly Giff

A modern-day teen learns the story of her look-alike ancestor who lived during the American Revolution and struggled to survive while following male family members into battle.

 

19th Century

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

In 1859, eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman, the first free-born child in Buxton, Canada, which is a haven for slaves fleeing the American South, uses his wits and skills to try to bring to justice the lying preacher who has stolen money that was to be used to buy a family's freedom.

 

Fair Weather by Richard Peck

In 1893, thirteen-year-old Rosie and members of her family travel from their Illinois farm to Chicago to visit Aunt Euterpe and attend the World's Columbian Exposition which, along with an encounter with Buffalo Bill and Lillian Russell, turns out to be a life-changing experience for everyone.

 

Westward Expansion

Hard Gold: The Colorado Gold Rush of 1859: A Tale of the Old West by Avi

When his Uncle Jesse heads to the Pike's Peak region of the Rocky Mountains to look for gold, Early Wittcomb follows in hopes of raising enough money to save the family farm, but the journey west is full of hardships.

 

The Porcupine Year by Louise Erdrich

Forced by the United States government to leave their beloved Island of the Golden Breasted Woodpecker, fourteen-year-old Omakayas and her Ojibwe family travel in search of a new home in the year 1852.

 

Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan

A fictionalized account of the true story of Charley (Charlotte) Parkhurst who ran away from an orphanage, posed as a boy, moved to California, and was the first woman to vote for President - as she fooled everyone by her appearance as a man.

 

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

Left alone to guard the family's wilderness home in eighteenth-century Maine, a boy is hard-pressed to survive until local Indians teach him their skills.

 

Civil War

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

Young Jethro Creighton grows from a boy to a man when he is left to take care of the family farm in Illinois during the difficult years of the Civil War.

 

Iron Thunder: The Battle Between the Monitor & the Merrimac by Avi

After his father is killed during the Civil War, thirteen-year-old Tom takes on a job at the ironworks to support his family, and finds himself a target of ruthless spies when he begins assisting with the ironclad ship the "Monitor."

 

Like a River: A Civil War Novel by Kathy Cannon Wiechman

Leander and Polly are two teenage Union soldiers who carry deep, dangerous secrets. Leander is underage when he enlists and Polly follows her father into war disguised as his son. The war proves life changing for both as they survive incredible odds.

 

Early 1900’s

The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 by Laurence Yep

Eight-year-old Henry and nine-year-old Chin love to read about heroes in popular "penny dreadful" novels, until they both witness real courage while trying to survive the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

 

Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan

Left an orphan after the influenza epidemic in British East Africa in 1918, thirteen-year-old Rachel is tricked into assuming a deceased neighbor's identity to travel to England, where her only dream is to return to Africa and rebuild her parents' mission hospital.

 

Great Depression

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

A twelve-year-old boy named Moose moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935 when guards' families were housed there, and has to contend with his extraordinary new environment in addition to life with his autistic sister.

 

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

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.

 

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

In a series of poems, fourteen-year-old Billie Jo relates the hardships of living on her family's wheat farm in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl years of the Depression.

 

Strawberry Hill by Mary Ann Hoberman

Ten-year-old Allie's family moves from urban New Haven to rural Stamford, Connecticut, in the midst of the Great Depression.

 

A Long Way from Chicago: A Novel in Stories by Richard Peck

A boy recounts his annual summer trips to rural Illinois with his sister during the Great Depression to visit their larger-than-life grandmother.

 

1930’s

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm

In 1935, when her mother gets a job housekeeping for a woman who does not like children, eleven-year-old Turtle is sent to stay with relatives she has never met in far away Key West, Florida.

 

The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan

Facing his share of ordinary challenges, from local bullies to his father’s failed expectations, eleven-year-old Jack Clark must also deal with the effects of the Dust Bowl in 1937 Kansas, including the rising tensions in his small town and the spread of a shadowy illness.

 

I Survived the Hindenburg Disaster, 1937 by Lauren Tarshis

For eleven year-old Hugo Ballard, flying on the Hindenburg is a dream come true. But as thezeppelin gets ready to land, a blast rocks the Hindenburg and fire consumes the ship. Theentire disaster lasts a mere thirty-two seconds, but in those few seconds, Hugo finds himself separated from his family and in a desperate race to escape the flames. The Hindenburg is doomed. And so, it seems, is Hugo. Will he survive this historic disaster?

 

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker is the daughter of a drifter who, in the summer of 1936, sends her to stay with an old friend in Manifest, Kansas, where he grew up, and where she hopes to find out some things about his past.

 

World War II

Don’t You Know There’s a War On? by Avi

In wartime Brooklyn in 1943, eleven-year-old Howie Crispers mounts a campaign to save his favorite teacher from being fired.

 

Black Radishes by Susan Meyer

Forced to leave his friends behind in Nazi-threatened 1940 Paris, Jewish youth Gustave relocates with his parents to a small country village where he learns about the occupation and meets a Catholic resistance fighter who offers to help them flee to America.

 

Brave Emily by Valerie Tripp

Molly befriends a war refugee named Emily Bennett, who struggles to overcome shyness.

 

War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Bradley

A young disabled girl and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II, where they find life to be much sweeter away from their abusive mother.

 

Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata

After twelve-year-old Sumiko and her Japanese-American family are relocated from their flower farm in southern California to an internment camp on a Mojave Indian reservation in Arizona, she helps her family and neighbors, becomes friends with a local Indian boy, and tries to hold on to her dream of owning a flower shop.

 

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages

In 1943, eleven-year-old Dewey Kerrigan lives with her scientist father in Los Alamos, New Mexico, as he works on a top-secret government program, and befriends an aspiring artist who is a misfit just like her.

 

Odette’s Secrets by Maryann Macdonald

When Odette's father becomes a Nazi prisoner-of-war and the Paris police begin arresting Jews, her mother sends Odetteto hide in the Catholic French countryside where she must keep many secretsto survive.

 

When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park

With national pride and occasional fear, a brother and sister face the increasingly oppressive occupation of Korea by Japan during World War II, which threatens to suppress Korean culture entirely.

 

Yellow Star by Jennifer Rozines Roy

From 1939, when Sylvia is four and a half years old, to 1945 when she has just turned ten, a Jewish girl and her family struggle to survive in Poland's Lodz ghetto during the Nazi occupation.

 

My Brother’s Secret by Dan Smith

In 1941, twelve-year-old Karl is proud to be a member of the Hitler Youth, but when his father is killed on the Eastern Front everything changes--his family moves to the country to live with his grandparents, he encounters a brutal Gestapo officer, and he begins to realize that his sixteen-year-old brother has joined a youth group who opposes the Nazis.

 

Someone Named Eva by Joan M. Wolf

From her home in Lidice, Czechoslovakia in 1942, eleven-year-old Milada is taken with other blond, blue-eyed children to a school in Poland to be trained as "proper Germans" for adoption by German families, but all the while she remembers her true name and history.

 

Post World War II (Cold War)

Catch You Later, Traitor by Avi

It's 1951, and twelve-year-old Pete Collison is a regular kid in Brooklyn, New York, who loves Sam Spade detective books and radio crime dramas. But when an FBI agent shows up at Pete's doorstep, accusing Pete's father of being a Communist, Pete is caught in a real-life mystery. Could there really be Commies in Pete's family?

 

The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatric Hill

Ten-year-old Fred (short for Frederika) narrates the story of school and village life among the Athapascans in Alaska during 1948 when Miss Agness arrived as the new teacher.

 

A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen

When her family is divided by the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerda harbors forbidden thoughts about freedom and reuniting with her loved ones before a coded message from her father inspires a daring plan.

 

Civil Rights Movement

Night on Fire by Ronald Kidd

The year is 1961 and when thirteen-year-old Billie Sims learns that the Freedom Riders, a civil rights group protesting segregation, will be traveling through Anniston, Alabama, she thinks change could be coming to her stubborn town. But what starts as angry grumbles soon turns to brutality, and Billie is forced to reconsider her own views.

 

Glory Be by Augusta Scatttergood

In the summer of 1964 as she is about to turn twelve, Glory’s town of Hanging Moss, Mississippi, is beset by racial tension when town leaders close her beloved pool rather than desegregating it.

 

1960’s

Countdown by Deborah Wiles

The fearful events of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis are witnessed by 11-year-old Franny, who finds her life and perspectives changing throughout the course of a week that is also marked by difficult family issues.

 

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.

 

The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall

In 1963, thirteen-year-old Arthur is sentenced to community service helping the neighborhood Junk Man after he throws a brick at the old man’s head in a moment of rage, but the junk he collects might be more important than he suspects.

 

Vietnam War

Shooting the Moon by Frances O’Roark Dowell

When her brother is sent to fight in Vietnam, twelve-year-old Jamie begins to reconsider the Army world that she has grown up in.

 

Letters from Wolfie by Patti Sherlock

Certain that he is doing the right thing by donating his dog, Wolfie, to the Army's scout program in Vietnam, thirteen-year-old Mark begins to have second thoughts when the Army refuses to say when and if Wolfie will ever return.

 
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