Middle Grade Booklist 1-Historical Fiction
I love everything to do with booklists: collecting them, sharing them, and working my way through them. Because I’ve spent the past year writing a middle grade novel, and I have two middle grade readers (and one soon to be) under my roof, I’ve spent a lot of time in books targeted at this audience, so, I (along with a little help from my kids) decided to put together a list of our favorites.
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Number the Stars is the story of ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen who lives in Copenhagen, Denmark during World War II and learns an important lesson about being brave. This is one of my favorite books of all time. Not only is it beautifully written, with endearing characters and a suspenseful plot, it raises questions about courage, integrity, selflessness, and perseverance.
Blue by Joyce Moyer Hostetter
Like Number the Stars, Blue is set during World War II, but in the town of Hickory, North Carolina. Ann Fay Honeycutt is determined to be “the man of the house” when her father goes off to fight in the war, but instead she ends up fighting polio. Along with many others from around the country, she goes to the emergency polio hospital in her hometown in search of healing. This is my daughter’s favorite book; she recommended it to me with the warning me that I would love it, but it would make me cry. She was right on both accounts.
Comfort by Joyce Moyer Hostetter
The sequel to Blue, Comfort takes place after the war and focuses on Ann Fay’s time at the Warm Springs Foundation in Georgia for children suffering from polio and the friendships she forms there.
Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff
Lily’s Crossing also takes place during WWII (it is a really interesting time in American history). It focuses on the relationship between Lily, whose father has recently been drafted into the war, and Albert, a Hungarian refugee her same age. Together they learn about the values of honesty and empathy.
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Laura Ingalls is my favorite pioneer girl, but eleven-year-old Caddie Woodlawn is a very close second. I love the stories of her mischief and adventure in the Wisconsin frontier.
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Tragedy brings Esperanza from her life as a wealthy rancher’s daughter in Mexico to the life of a struggling farm worker in Depression-era California. This interesting story is wonderful for inspiring empathy and perseverance.
The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
Told through the eyes of ten-year-old Fred, The Year of Miss Agnes is the story of a unique teacher (and her unique students) trying to find her way in a remote village in Alaska in 1948.
Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
I realize this list is a little heavy on female protagonists, but my son (who tends to be more interested in fantasy) enjoyed this version of Robin Hood (although it is abridged, it follows the original story) and I’m looking forward to trying out a few more classics from this series.
Turtle In Paradise by Jennifer Holm
Eleven-year-old Turtle is sent to live with her aunt and cousins in Key West, Florida, during the Great Depression in 1935. Turtle in Paradise is a sad, but sweet story with moments of humor and a few surprises. Holm's Penny from Heaven, set almost twenty years later, for a slightly older audience, is also a great read.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
This Newberry winner is a bit of a misnomer. Although it sounds a little like a horror story, it’s really a historical fiction account of a sixteen-year-old girl who sails from Barbados to Connecticut colony in 1687 to live with her Puritan relatives, and finds herself in the center of controversy in their small community. The writing is wonderfully descriptive, the story is engrossing, and the tender relationships are compelling. I stayed up late to finish it.
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
My daughter and I both adore this story of sixteen-year-old Hattie, who courageously leaves Iowa to prove up on her late uncle’s homestead claim in Montana during World War II. Although homestead life is harder than she could have ever imagined, she finally finds a place where she feels at home in her own skin. I loved that the author based the story largely on her own grandmother’s journals.
This is one of a series of posts that sparked this blog, but it will be soon be updated and replaced by more specific categories that correspond to time period and/or theme. I have read many more books since this original post and I look forward to sharing them with you. I hope you’ll come back and visit!