BlogTeaching Resources35 Best History Books for Kids to Help Them Discover the Past

    35 Best History Books for Kids to Help Them Discover the Past

    Whether you’re looking for a comprehensive overview of world history or an in-depth exploration of one particular period, there is something to interest every budding young explorer within history books.

    We bring you a list of 35 children’s history books to read to stoke their curiosity on how the world became what it is today and how our actions can impact our future.

    35 Best History Books of All Time for Young Kids

    Children dressed as knight and princess

    Young children want to know how the world works and how it got to be the way it is. The following books will help them explore the past and present, instilling a sense of appreciation for history.

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    1. D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths

    Author(s): Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

    Age Range: 9 to 14 years

    Grade Range: 4 to 6

    For 50 years, this book has been enthralling young readers with illustrated stories of Greek gods, goddesses, heroes, and monsters. One of the great history books to study Greek mythology, this book has witty observations and highly detailed drawings. No wonder, it is included in the list of New York Public Library’s 100 Great Children’s Books by the New York Times as well as the NPR 100 Must-Reads for Kids 9–14 selection.

    2. A Child’s History of the World

    Author(s): Virgil M. Hillyer

    Age Range: 8 to 10 years

    Grade Range: 3 to 5

    Hillyer, once the headmaster of the Calvert School of Baltimore, wrote this classic book that is considered one of the best kids’ history books ever. It narrates the history of the world from the ‘beginning’ to the mid-1990s in a warm, grandfatherly voice. It covers everything from the early civilizations to the Renaissance and is suitable for young readers who are starting to learn about history.

    3. Separate is Never Equal

    Author(s): Duncan Tonatiuh

    Age Range: 6 to 9 years

    Grade Range: 1 to 4

    Good history books are not only about stories of ancient heroes or kings. They are written to help children learn how they can make a big impact on the world. Separate is Never Equal tells the story of Sylvia Mendez, a young Hispanic girl in the US whose family’s fight for equal education rights paved the way for the desegregation of California schools in 1947. Through this book, children learn how taking a stand can make a difference.

    4. The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History

    Author(s): Jennifer Armstrong

    Age Range: 7 to 13 years

    Grade Range: 2 to 8

    If you are looking for the best children’s American history books, you can’t miss this book. The 100 tales of America include the tales of triumph (such as the Wright brothers’ first flight) as well as the tales of tragedy (such as the great fire in Chicago). Each tale is written in a narrative style and illustrated with vivid photographs. Perfect for curious children, this book will help them understand how America became what it is today.

    5. American History: A Visual Encyclopedia

    Statue of Abraham Lincoln

    Author(s): DK (with Smithsonian Institution as a contributor)

    Age Range: 8 to 12 years

    Grade Range: 3 to 7

    Considered as the best US history book for kids, this extensive history encyclopedia for children showcases the background of the Battle of Yorktown, the American Revolution, Native American culture, legends of the Wild West, and more. With more than 750 photographs and paintings, this is one of the best children’s American history books to help your kids explore the US history.

    6. The Usborne History of Britain

    Author(s): Ruth Brocklehurst 

    Age Range: 9 years and above

    Grade Range: 4 and above

    One of the best history books for kids interested in the tumultuous and dramatic history of Britain, this book takes readers from pre-history to the present day in an engaging and informative way. The book describes characters from all walks of life, including kings, priests, peasants, inventors, and artists. It also includes timelines, maps, and facts to help kids better comprehend the past.

    7. Who Was…? Series

    Author(s): Various authors 

    Age Range: 8 years and above

    Grade Range: 3 and above

    This series of history books for kids is perfect for those interested in learning about the most influential people from history. These children’s history books are simple, with cartoon-style illustrations that help bring the characters to life. Each book covers a famous historical figure’s life story, important accomplishments, and lasting legacy. The series has more than 250 titles covering characters from all over the world, including Dalai Lama, Henry VIII, Jane Austen, and many more!

    Related Reading: Best Books for 3rd Graders That Will Make Turn Them into Lifelong Readers

    8. The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child

    Author(s): Susan Wise Bauer 

    Age Range: 8 to 16 years 

    Grade Range: 3 to 10

    This is a series of four history books that starts with ancient times and progresses through the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and modern times. Packed with stories and maps, this series provides an interesting overview of the world history. It also has activities and reviews questions for each chapter to help children understand the material better. This is an excellent series of books for those who want to understand the major events of history.

    9. National Geographic Kids History Books

    Author(s): Various authors 

    Age Range: 8 years and above 

    Grade Range: 3 and above

    National Geographic Kids is known for its fantastic visuals, and the history books for kids under this series are no exception. These books cover a range of topics ranging from the American Civil War to ancient Egypt, using color photographs and graphics to bring each topic to life. The simple text and activities included in these books make them perfect for young readers who want to understand history without being overwhelmed by too much information.

    10. The Magic Tree House Series

    Author(s): Mary Pope Osborne 

    Age Range: 7 to 10 years 

    Grade Range: 2 to 5

    The Magic Tree House books take children on a magical journey through time, with Jack and Annie traveling to the past and visiting important historical events and characters. Including events like the American Revolution, these history books for 2nd graders and older make learning about history fun and exciting for young readers. Each book is packed with information in an entertaining way that helps understand the history better while keeping the students engaged.

    11. History Comes Alive Series

    Author(s): Various authors 

    Age Range: 8 years and above 

    Grade Range: 3 and above

    These history books for kids cover religion, colonial America, Indigenous peoples of the Great Lakes, Nazi ghettos, and the Tulsa Race Massacre in a thought-provoking yet easy-to-follow way. The books use a variety of mediums such as photographs, artwork, and first-person accounts to allow kids to connect with the people and events from history in a meaningful way. With engaging stories and vivid illustrations, these books make learning about the past an enjoyable experience for young readers.

    12. She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History

    Author(s): Chelsea Clinton 

    Age Range: 4 to 8 years

    Grade Range: Kindergarten to Grade 3

    One of the best history books for 1st graders to shape young kids into future leaders and gender equality champions, this book tells stories of 13 girls and women who changed their world by dreaming big and standing up for what they believed in. These include Mexican poet Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz and Nobel laureate and activist Malala Yousafzai. Beautifully illustrated and inspiringly told, this book is an excellent way to introduce kids to women’s rights and the power of persistence.

    13. The Incredible History of India’s Geography: A Captivating Guide to the Indian Subcontinent

    Author(s): James Manning 

    Age Range: 10 to 13 years 

    Grade Range: 5 to 8

    This book provides a comprehensive overview of India’s geography, from its ancient cities and rivers to its modern-day states and borders. It provides a detailed look at India’s complex history and its effect on the culture and people of the subcontinent. The book is great for those who want to learn more about India and its rich cultural heritage while also being entertained by captivating illustrations and stories.

    14. Ancient Egypt: A Captivating Guide to Egyptian History, from the Predynastic Period to the Fall of the Ptolemaic Dynasty

    A woman looking at pyramids from far

    Author(s): Charles River Editors 

    Age Range: 8 years and above 

    Grade Range: 3 and above

    This book is a great way for kids to learn about ancient Egypt. It provides an in-depth and comprehensive overview of the incredible history and culture of this ancient civilization, from its rise to power to its fall. Young readers are sure to be captivated by the mysteries and wonders of Ancient Egypt with this book. The vivid illustrations and engaging stories make this book a great way to bring history to life for kids.

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    15. A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman

    Author(s): David A. Adler 

    Age Range: 4 to 8 years 

    Grade Range: Kindergarten to Grade 3

    Harriet Tubman was a rebellious slave girl on a plantation in Maryland who went on to become one of the most important figures in African-American history. She liberated 300 other slaves and became a Union Spy during the Civil War. This picture book shows her hair-raising adventures, making it an exciting and engaging read for young kids. It is a great way to introduce kids to the history of slavery, African-American rights, and the civil rights movement.

    16. A History of the World in 100 Objects

    Author(s): Neil MacGregor 

    Age Range: 8 years and above 

    Grade Range: 3 and above

    This book takes a unique strategy to teach children about world history. It uses interesting objects from different periods, ranging from ancient artifacts to modern-day gadgets, to explain how the world has changed through time. With intriguing objects and engaging stories, this book is sure to spark curiosity in kids about the past and make learning about history a fun-filled experience.

    17. The Mystery of History Series

    Author(s): Linda Lacour Hobar 

    Age Range: 9 to 13 years 

    Grade Range: 4 to 8

    This series of books covers the history of different countries, from ancient Egypt and Greece to the modern-day United States. It is perfect for those who want a comprehensive overview of world history. But what sets this book apart from other history books is its captivating storytelling style that makes learning about the past an enjoyable activity for kids. The Mystery of History series is sure to leave young readers eager to learn more about the world’s past.

    18. Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World

    Author(s): Rachel Ignotofsky 

    Age Range: 8 and above 

    Grade Range: 3 and above

    This inspiring book profiles 50 of the most amazing women scientists in history, from Marie Curie to Jane Goodall. It is an excellent way for kids to learn about the achievements of remarkable women and how they contributed to science and technology. By reading this book, children gain a different perspective on gender stereotypes, an appreciation for the power of knowledge, and female empowerment. It is sure to spark an interest in learning more about science and history in kids.

    19. The Great Adventure: How the Mounties Conquered the West

    Author(s): David A. Kelly

    Age Range: 8 to 12 years 

    Grade Range: 3 to 7

    This book recounts the history of Canada’s North West Mounted Police, from their formation in 1873 to the present day. The tone of the stories is exciting and engaging, and kids are sure to be captivated by the heroic tales of this iconic police force. It is an excellent way to learn about Canadian history and get inspired by the bravery of these law enforcers.

    20. World War I: An Interactive History Adventure

    Author(s): Stephanie Sammartino McPherson 

    Age Range: 9 to 12 years 

    Grade Range: 4 to 7

    This interactive history book takes readers through the events of World War I, from the underlying causes that led to its outbreak to its devastating outcomes. The book uses a game-like format to present the information, which makes it fun and entertaining for kids. It is an excellent way to gain an in-depth understanding of this war, as well as learn about its impact on world history.

    Related Reading: How to Get Kids Excited About Reading

    Fiction Books for Young Learners to Spark a Love for History

    A woman from Victorian era reading a book

    Historical fiction for children is an excellent way to get them interested in the past. These books use engaging stories, vivid characters and imaginative settings to bring history to life for young readers. Here are some of our favorites:

    Historical fiction books for 3rd graders

    21. The Bicycle Spy

    Author(s): Yona Zeldis McDonough 

    Age Range: 8 to 12 years 

    Grade Range: 3 to 7 

    This World War II story follows a young Jewish boy from Amsterdam as he helps the Resistance by delivering messages on his bicycle. Despite facing danger and risking his life, the brave protagonist remains determined to do what he can to save his family and friends.

    22. Number the Stars

    Author(s): Lois Lowry 

    Age Range: 8 to 12 years 

    Grade Range: 3 to 7 

    This powerful story set in 1943 in Denmark recounts how a young girl helps her friend escape from the Nazis by pretending she is her sister. It is an inspiring tale of courage and humanity that is sure to captivate young readers.

    23. The Great Wall of Lucy Wu

    Author(s): Wendy Wan-Long Shang 

    Age Range: 8 to 12 years 

    Grade Range: 3 to 7 

    This book follows a young Chinese-American girl as she navigates the complexities of growing up while also trying to find her place in her family. Set in the backdrop of San Francisco’s Chinatown, it is an engaging and heartwarming story about identity, family, and culture.

    Historical fiction books for 4th graders

    24. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

    Author(s): Chris Grabenstein 

    Age Range: 8 to 12 years 

    Grade Range: 4 to 7

    This fun and exciting book follows a group of kids as they are locked inside an amazing library for the night and forced to solve puzzles to escape. It is a clever story that teaches kids about important historical figures and events, while also emphasizing the importance of teamwork and problem-solving.

    25. The Green Glass Sea

    Author(s): Ellen Klages 

    Age Range: 9 to 12 years 

    Grade Range: 4 to 7

    This thoughtful book set in the 1940s follows two young girls who move to Los Alamos during WWII when their parents are invited to work on an important government project. It is a moving story about friendship and family, with a backdrop of science and history that kids will love.

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    26. The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963

    Author(s): Christopher Paul Curtis 

    Age Range: 9 to 12 years 

    Grade Range: 4 to 7 

    This heart-wrenching story follows an African American family from Flint, Michigan as they journey to Birmingham, Alabama during the civil rights movement. It is a powerful tale about courage and perseverance that will stay with young readers for a long time.

    Historical fiction books for 5th graders

    27. Al Capone Does My Shirts (Tales from Alcatraz)

    Author(s): Gennifer Choldenko 

    Age Range: 9 to 12 years 

    Grade Range: 5 to 8 

    This historical fiction novel follows a twelve-year-old boy as he moves from his home in Oakland to Alcatraz Island, where his father has taken a job as a prison guard. It is an engaging story about life on the island and the struggles of growing up, set against a backdrop of fascinating history.

    28. The Red Bandanna: A Life, a Choice, and Legacy of Courage

    Author(s): Tom Rinaldi 

    Age Range: 9 to 12 years 

    Grade Range: 5 to 8

    A New York Times best seller, this compelling story recounts the life of Welles Crowther, a young man who lost his life on September 11th while selflessly guiding others to safety. It is an inspiring tale of heroism and courage that will stay with readers long after they’ve finished it.

    29. Esperanza Rising

    Author(s): Pam Muñoz Ryan 

    Age Range: 9 to 12 years 

    Grade Range: 5 to 8 

    This moving book follows Esperanza, a young Mexican girl who is forced to leave her comfortable life and move to California during the Great Depression. It is an inspiring story about courage, resilience, and grace told with warmth and humor.

    Historical fiction books for 6th graders

    30. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

    Author(s): John Boyne 

    Age Range: 9 to 12 years 

    Grade Range: 6 to 8 

    This internationally acclaimed novel tells the story of Bruno, a young German boy whose family moves to a small village near Auschwitz. Through his eyes, readers are introduced to an unforgettable and heartbreaking story about friendship, loyalty, and the horrors of World War II.

    31. Beyond the Bright Sea

    Author(s): Lauren Wolk 

    Age Range: 9 to 12 years 

    Grade Range: 6 to 8 

    This captivating novel follows Crow, a twelve-year-old girl who was abandoned on an island off the coast of Massachusetts as a baby. As she sets out in search of her identity, she discovers a secret and a history that will stay with her forever.

    32. The War That Saved My Life

    Author(s): Kimberly Brubaker Bradley 

    Age Range: 9 to 12 years 

    Grade Range: 6 to 8 

    Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award, this moving story follows Ada, a 10-year-old young girl who has never been allowed outside of her home until World War II forces her to leave it. It is an inspiring tale of bravery, friendship, and resilience set in England during the war.

    Historical fiction books for 7th graders

    33. Pharaoh’s Daughter

    Author(s): Julius Lester 

    Age Range: 9 to 12 years 

    Grade Range: 7 to 10 

    This vivid novel follows Moses, an abandoned baby found in the bulrushes of the Nile River, as he is taken in by Pharaoh’s daughter. It provides a unique window into a little-explored period of history that will captivate young readers.

    34. The Crystal Ribbon

    Author(s): Celeste Lim 

    Age Range: 9 to 12 years 

    Grade Range: 7 to 10 

    This gripping story follows Li Jing, a young girl from Ancient China who dreams of becoming a great scholar. It is an intriguing tale of courage and determination set against the backdrop of the legendary Great Wall of China.

    35. The Birchbark House

    Author(s): Louise Erdrich 

    Age Range: 9 to 12 years 

    Grade Range: 7 to 10 

    This captivating novel follows a young Ojibwa girl, Omakayas, as she navigates the changing world around her in early 19th-century America. It is an involving and unforgettable story about family, friendship, and the power of resilience.

    Related Reading: Best Books for 5th Graders That Will Make Reading Time Fun for Kids


    These 35 history books for kids will help them explore diverse topics, learn about different cultures and people, and discover the power of taking action. As children read these stories, they’ll gain a greater appreciation for their present by understanding the past. Provide your young reader with an exciting journey through time with these children’s history books and give them an unforgettable experience.

    Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

    What should history books for 5-year-olds include?

    History books for 5 year olds should include engaging short stories for kids with colorful illustrations and simple language. They should provide a general overview of historic events in an age-appropriate manner.

    What is the best way to teach children about history?

    The best way to teach children about history is to make it interactive and engaging. Encourage children to ask questions, explore artifacts, conduct experiments and make connections between past events and the present.

    How does history help young learners?

    History helps young learners develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as gain a better understanding of their place in the world. It also helps them cultivate empathy and appreciation for different cultures.

    Jill Baker
    Jill Baker has been teaching for 10 years and she loves sharing everything she has learned to help other teachers.

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