Books for Children

Search the Library CatalogThe following books (fiction and non-fiction) are recommended for introducing students to different historical topics. Please note that some of these titles are out of print, but may still be found in libraries or from booksellers.

For additional resources for elementary and middle school students, click here.

Native Americans

Fiction
Durrant, Lynda. Beaded Moccasins. New York: Clarion Books, c1998.
Durrant tells the story of 12-year-old Mary Campbell’s capture and first year of captivity among the Delaware Indians. Grades 5 – 8.

Franco, Betsy, editor. Night Is Gone, Day Is Still Coming: Stories and Poems by American Indian Teens and Young Adults. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick, 2003.
Grades 7 and up.

Krull, Kathleen. Pocahontas: Princess of the New World. New York: Walker, 2007.
Grades K – 3.

Milton, Joyce. Pocahontas: An American Princess. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 2000.
Grades K – 3.

O’Dell, Scott. The Island of the Blue Dolphins. Yearling, 1999.
Scott O’Dell won the Newbery Medal for Island of the Blue Dolphins in 1961, and in 1976 the Children’s Literature Association named this riveting story one of the 10 best American children’s books of the past 200 years. O’Dell was inspired by the real-life story of a 12-year-old American Indian girl, Karana. During the evacuation of Ghalas-at (an island off the coast of California), she jumped ship to stay with her young brother who had been abandoned on the island. He died shortly thereafter, and Karana fended for herself on the island for 18 years. Grades 4 and up.

Smith, Patricia Clark. Weetamoo: Heart of the Pocassets. [Royal Diary Series.] Fictionalized journal from the perspective of the historical figure Weetamoo, who became a sachem around the time of King Philip’s War. Excellent window onto daily life and coming of age. Grades 4 and up.

Non-Fiction
Kavin, Kim. Tools of Native Americans: a kid’s guide to the history and culture of the first Americans. White River Junction, VT: Nomad Press, 2006.
Grades 3 and up.

Koller, Jackie. Nickommoh! A Thanksgiving Celebration. An attractive picture book explaining the Narragansett traditions of celebrations of thanks.

Colonial America

Fiction
Fritz, Jean. The Lost Colony of Roanoke. New York: Putnam Juvenile, 2004.
Grades 3 – 6.

Levitin, Sonia. Roanoke: A Novel of the Lost Colony. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks, 2000.
An English youth and an Indian girl are caught up in the events leading to the mysterious disappearance of the colony at Roanoke Island. Grades 4 – 7.

Milton, Giles. Big Chief Elizabeth: The Adventures and Fate of the First English Colonists in America. Picador, 2001.
Grades 8 and up.

Schanzer, Rosalyn. John Smith Escapes Again! Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2006. Grades 3 – 5.

Speare, Elizabeth George. The Sign of the Beaver. New York: Yearling Book, 1983. Grades 4 – 6.

Waters, Kate. Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl. Scholastic Paperbacks, 1993.
Grades 3 – 5.

Waters, Kate. Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy. Scholastic Paperbacks, 1996. Grades 3 – 5.

Waters, Kate. Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy In Pilgrim Times. Scholastic Paperbacks, 1996. Grades 3 – 5.

Non-Fiction
Belval, Brian. A Primary Source History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. New York: Rosen Central Primary Source, 2006.
Grades 8 and up.

Franklin, Ben. Poor Richards Almanack. Peter Pauper Press, 1980.
“If you want the brutal truth, I did not expect to get much useful information out of Poor Richard’s Almanack. I wondered, what could Benjamin Franklin–a guy who has been, no offense, dead for more than two hundred years–possibly have to say that would be relevant to a resident of today’s dot-com world? Plenty, as it turns out.”–from the Introduction by Dave Barry

McGovern, Ann. …If You Lived in Colonial Times. New York: Scholastic, 1964.
Grades 2 – 5.

Maestro, Betsy & Giulio Maestro. The New Americans: Colonial Times 1620 – 1689. New York: Harper Collins, 1998.
Grades 2 – 5.

Stemple, Heidi Elisabet Y. Roanoke: The Lost Colony – An Unsolved Mystery from History. New York: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2003.
Grades 2 – 5.

Local History & Fairfield

Fiction
George, Jean Craighead. The Moon of the Deer. New York: Harper Collins, 1992.
A beautiful description of the life of a deer along the salt marsh coast of Connecticut. Grades 3 – 5.

Goodman, Joan Elizabeth. Hope’s Crossing. New York: Puffin Books, 1998.
This book tells the story of the British attack on Fairfield, Connecticut and how young Hope is taken captive. Grades 3 – 5.

Van Leeuwen, Jean. Hannah of Fairfield. New York: Phyllis Fogelman Books, 1999. First in a trilogy (researched at our library) about a girl growing up in Fairfield around the time of the Revolution. See also Hannah’s Helping Hands and Hannah’s Winter of Hope (2000). Grades 3 – 5.

Non-Fiction

Pierce, Patricia. N is for Nutmeg: A Connecticut Alphabet. Sleeping Bear Press (2003).

Wills, Charles A. A Historical Album of Connecticut. Brookfield, CT: The Millbrook Press, 1995. Grades 4 – 6.

 

Witchcraft in New England

Fiction
Hearn, Julie. The Minister’s Daughter. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2005.
In 1645 in England, the daughters of the town minister successfully accuse a local healer and her granddaughter of witchcraft to conceal an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, but years later during the 1692 Salem trials the repercussions of their lie condemn one of them as a witch. Grades 8 and up.

Hoobler, Dorothy. Priscilla Foster: the story of a Salem girl. Parsippany, NJ: Silver Burdett Press, 1997.
Hannah hears Granny Priss recount her involvement in the Salem witch trials of 1692 and the terrible consequences that occured when Granny Priss, as a young girl, joined Ann Putnam in accusing many innocent women of being witches. Grades 5 and up.

Lasky, Kathryn. Beyond The Burning Time. Scholastic, 1996.
Mary Chase’s sense of foreboding grows as, one by one, her friends fall prey to evidence of witchcraft and the innocent are identified as witches. She is horrified by the growing hysteria, and dismayed when her mother, who is a widow working a farm without a man, is cried out upon and arrested. Review by School Library Journal. Grades 5 – 9.

Martin, Michael. The Salem witch trials. Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2005.
In 1692, the small hamlet of Salem, Massachusetts, was overrun with fear, as accusations of witchcraft were rampant. Presented as a graphic novel, this book for younger readers sensitively explains these events in Puritan New England. Grades 5 and up.

Petry, Ann. Tituba of Salem Village. Harper Trophy, 1991.
This compelling novel concerns a girl brought from her native Barbados to be a slave in 17th-century Salem, and is suspected by the villagers of practic ing witchcraft. Grades 5 and up.

Rinaldi, Ann. A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials. Gulliver Books, 2003.
This story of the Salem witch trials is told 14 years later from the perspective of a young woman who lingered on the fringes of the bewitched girls’ circle in 1692. Grades 6 – 10.

Speare, Elizabeth George. The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Laurel Leaf, 1978. Grades 5 and up.
This Newbery Medal winner and ALA Notable Children’s Book  brings a frightening period of witch hysteria to life. Readers will wonder at the power of the mob mentality, and the need for communities in desperate times–even current times–to find a scapegoat. –Emilie Coulter. Grades 5 and up.

Non-Fiction
Burgan. Michael. The Salem witch trials. Minneapolis, Minn.: Compass Point Books, 2005.
In 1692, panic spread across part of Massachusetts. A strange sickness plagued four girls living in Salem. A doctor declared the young girls were bewitched. By that summer, dozens of people in the Salem area were accused of being witches and awaited trial. Conviction of witchcraft meant death in Massachusetts. How many innocent people would have to die before the people of Salem came to their senses? Book jacket. Grades 4 – 6.

Godbeer, Richard. Escaping Salem: the other witch hunt of 1692. New York : Oxford University Press, 2005.
Escaping Salem reconstructs the “other witch hunt” of 1692 that took place in Stamford, Connecticut. Grades 8 and up.

Roach, Marilynne. In the days of the Salem witchcraft trials. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.
With rich historical descriptions and detailed illustrations, the author reveals the world in which Salem witchcraft trials took place, showing how the ordinary lives of people formed the context for those extraordinary events. Grades 4 – 6.

Taylor, John M. The Witchcraft Delusion: The Story of Witchcraft Persecutions in Seventeenth-Century New England, Including Original Trial Transcripts. Grammercy Books, 1995. Grades 8 and up.

Tomlinson, R. G. Witchcraft trials of Connecticut : The First Comprehensive, Documented History of Witchcraft Trials in Colonial Connecticut. [s.l.] : Tomlinson, c1978.
Grades 8 and up.

Weisman, Richard. Witchcraft, Magic and Religion in 17th Century Massachusetts. Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, 1984. Grades 8 and up.

Yolen, Jane. The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from History. New York: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2004. Grades 3 – 6.

African American History

Fiction
Collier, James and Christopher. Jump Ship to Freedom. Yearling, 1987.
Grades 5 and up.

Hopkinson, Deborah. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt. Illustrated by James Ransome. Random House, 1995. Picture Book.

Rinaldi, Ann. Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons. Gulliver, 1996.
A fictionalized biography of poet Phillis Wheatley, the slave who became America’s first African American poet. Grades 6 and up.

Wait, Lea. Seaward Born. Margaret K. McElderry, 2003.
In 1805, a thirteen year-old slave named Michael escapes from Charleston aboard a ship bound for Boston. As an escaped slave, he is not free even there and must go further north for freedom. Grades 4 and up.

Non-Fiction
Brennan, Linda Crotta. The Black Regiment of the American Revolution. Moon Mountain Publishing, 2004 (out of print).
Grades 3 – 5.

Lester, Julius. To Be a Slave. Puffin, 2000.
Using writings and interviews of slaves as primary sources, the author chronicles their capture, transport, and enslavement in the South during and after the Civil War. The book is a rich source for role-playing activities and serves as an example of the differences between primary and secondary sources.Grades 5 and up.

Hamilton, Virginia. The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales. Knopf, 1993.
Grades 3 and up.

Hamilton, Virginia. Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom.  Random House, 1993.
Grades 4 and up.

Wright, Kai. Soldiers of Freedom : An Illustrated History of African Americans in the Armed Forces. New York, NY: Black Dog & Leventhal, c2002.
Offering homage to African Americans who have shouldered arms in defense of the United States from its War of Independence to the advent of the war on terrorism in 2001, freelance journalist Wright profiles the precarious balance historically maintained by blacks in the U.S. military.
Grades 8 and up.

American Revolution

Fiction
Brown, Drollene. Sybil Rides for Independence. Illinois: Albert Whitman & Col., 1985.
Based on the true story of Sybil Ludington, who warned about British troops attacking Danbury, CT. Grades 3 – 5.

Collier, James Lincoln and Christopher Collier. War Comes to Willy Freeman. New York: Delacorte Press, 1983.
A free thirteen-year-old black girl in Connecticut is caught up in the horror of the Revolutionary War and the danger of being returned to slavery when her patriot father is killed by the British and her mother disappears. Grades 5 – 7.

Collier, James Lincoln and Christopher Collier. My Brother Sam is Dead. New York: Scholastic, 1985.
A family in Redding, CT is divided by the Revolutionary War. Grades 5 and up.

Evan, Frances Y. The Forgotten Flag, Revolutionary Struggle in Connecticut. Shippensburg, PA: White Main Kids, 2003.
Grades 3 – 5.

Fast, Howard. April Morning. Bantam, 1983.
Grades 7 and up.

Haynes, Betsy. Spies on the Devil’s Belt. New York: Scholastic, 1974.
A fourteen-year-old boy who signs on with the Continental Army is utilized as a spy in the Long Island Sound area. Grades 3 and up.

Myers, Anna. The Keeping Room. Walker Books, 1997.
A well-written book about a young boy who comes of age in Revolutionary-era South Carolina. Grades 4 and up.

Rinaldi, Ann. A Ride into Morning: The Story of Tempe Wick. Gulliver, 1995.
The legend of Tempe Wick, a young woman who hid her horse in her house to protect him from mutinous Revolutionary soldiers, is related through the eyes of her 14-year-old cousin Mary. Recommended for grades 7 and up, but also for advanced younger readers.

Roche, A.K. The Pumpkin Heads. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.
Based on an anecdote from “General History of Connecticut,” by Reverend Samuel Peters. “In the early 1770s, when the colonists were beginning to voice their discontent, Reverend Peters was driven out of Connecticut because of his sympathy for the British. He returned to England in 1774 and, to vent his resentment against the colonists who had forced him to leave, he made up many stories exaggerating the conditions in Connecticut. He published the collection of these tales in 1781.” Picture Book.

Non-Fiction
Deem, James. Primary Source Accounts of the Revolutionary War. Berkeley Heights, NJ: MyReportLinks.com Books, 2006. Grades 8 and up.

Fritz, Jean. Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution. New York: Putnam Books, 1987. Grades 3 – 5.

Herbert, Janis. The American Revolution for Kids: A History with 21 Activities. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2002.
Grades 4 – 6.

Murphy, Jim. A Young Patriot: The American Revolution as Experienced by One Boy.
The life of Joseph Plumb Martin, a 15-year-old Connecticut farm boy who enlisted in the Continental Army in 1776. Through well-selected quotes from Martin’s self-published memoir, readers experience the young soldier’s excitement and fear during battle, his boredom while marching, and the deprivation of a winter encampment. Grades 6 and up.

Schanzer, Rosalyn. George vs. George: The Revolutionary War as Seen by Both Sides. Washington, DC : National Geographic, 2004.
Appealing illustrations and informative text tell the story of how George Washington and King George came into conflict during the American Revolution, Grades 4 – 6.
Sloane, Eric. Diary of an Early American Boy: Noah Black 1805. New Jersey: Dover, 1962. Grades 3 – 5.

Schools and Education

Fiction

Cameron, Ann and Thomas B. Allen. The Most Beautiful Place in the World. Knopf, 1988.
Juan lives with his grandmother in Guatemala and longs to go to school but fears his grandmother will not allow it. He teaches himself to read before he dares to broach the subject. Grades 3 and up.

Cazet, Denys. Never Spit on Your Shoes. New York: Scholastic, 1993.
Arnie arrives home exhausted but proud of making it through the first day of first grade. Grades K – 3.

Houson, Gloria. My Great-Aunt Arizona. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.
Grades K – 3.

Non-Fiction
Jurman, Suzanne. The Forbidden Schoolhouse – The True and Dramatic Story of Prudence Crandall and Her Students. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005.
Learn about our state heroine, her African-American students, and their determination to pursue education.  Grades 5 and up.

Low, Betty-Bright and Jacqueline Kinsley. Sophie du Pont – A Young Lady in America. Sketches, Diaries & Letters, 1823 – 1833. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1987.
Grades 4 and up.

Wilmore, Kathy. A Day in the Life of a Colonial Schoolteacher. New York: Powerkids Press, 2000.
Describes a day in a colonial American dame school, including who attended, what they learned, and what chores they did. Grades 3 and up.

Westward Expansion

Fiction
Conrad, Pam. Prairie Songs. New York : Harper & Row, c1985.
Louisa’s life on the Nebraska prairie is altered by the arrival of a new doctor and his tragically frail wife. Grades 5 and up.

Schanzer, Rosalyn. Gold Fever! Tales from the California Gold Rush. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2007.
Grades 4 and up.

Non-Fiction
Kalman, Bobbie. Boomtowns of the West. New York : Crabtree Pub. Co., c1999.
Examines the westward expansion of North America during the nineteenth century and the boomtowns that developed as thousands of settlers and immigrants migrated to these new frontiers. Grades 4 and up.

Torr, James D. Westward Expansion. San Diego : Greenhaven Press, c2003.
Primary documents provide a window on the history of westward expansion.  Grades 7 and up.