You Asked, We Answered: Historical Fiction

December 4th, 2016 by

On October 30, 2016, Kidsmomo reader Cassie asked us for book recommendations based on her interests:

I love to read Historical fiction and I need help . Do you have a idea

Cassie, thank you for sending in your question! Historical fiction happens to be one of Nancy’s favorite book genres, so this will be a piece of cake. Well, several pieces of cake, since there are so many interesting eras that authors can write about!


Nancy (post-Thanksgiving meal size) is on the historical fiction case!

To start, check out our Timeless Historical Fiction blog post, which includes many classics and our personal picks:

  • A Long Way From Chicago and A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck (Karen’s pick)
  • By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman (Nancy’s pick)

a-long-way-from-chicago a_year_down_yonder by-the-great-horn-spoon

You can also hear us talking about these books in the podcast episode, “History Repeating”.

In addition to our Timeless Historical Fiction book list, you can also check out these books written after we compiled that list:

  • Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes (post-Civil War 1860s)
  • One Came Home by Amy Timberlake (1871)
  • Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost (War of 1812)
  • Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper (1930s)
  • Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk (1930s)
  • Listening for Lucca by Suzanne M. LaFleur (World War II)
  • The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (World War II)
  • Night on Fire by Ronald Kidd (1960s)
  • Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (1970s)
  • Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (Vietnam War, 1975)
  • Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (1975)
  • One Crazy Summer, P.S. Be Eleven, and Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia (1968)
  • Finding Someplace by Denise Lewis Patrick (Hurricane Katrina, 2005)


If you’re not sure what era to travel to, check out Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan: The book sweeps across decades and continents, from Nazi Germany to Depression-era Pennsylvania, and more — all tied together by the power of music. Another story that spans multiple time periods is the beautifully illustrated book The Marvels by Brian Selznick.

Echo Pam Munoz Ryan  Marvels Brian Selznick

Also, to our Kidsmomo visitors and Cassie, especially: If you’re interested in a specific era or type of historical fiction, feel free to submit another Ask Kidsmomo question in the form below and we’ll get right on it for you!

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    Out Of The Dust by Karen Hesse

    October 21st, 2016 by

    out-of-the-dust_karen-hesseSubmitted by Anna, Age 11 from New York

    Rating: ★★★★★

    This book is an amazing book by Karen Hesse. This book has a Newbery Honor award to, and is written in verse.
    This girl named Billy Jo lives in a place that get a lot of dust storms! Her dad wanted her to be a boy but didn’t get one. Will a terrible accident happen to her or her family to separate them, forever? Her moms piano calms her down when she needs it. Billy Jo loves to play piano. You should read this book. It is so good.

    Out Of The Dust by Karen Hesse

    February 19th, 2016 by

    out-of-the-dust_karen-hesseSubmitted by Dominique, Age 12 from New York

    Rating: ★★★★★

    Out Of The Dust is set up in verses and is easy for people who don’t like to read. Billy Joe has done something bad she accidentally caught her mom on fire and can never forgive herself read to find out how she deals with her life

    Out Of The Dust by Karen Hesse

    June 26th, 2013 by

    out-of-the-dust_karen-hesseSubmitted by ALLISON, Age 12 from Rhode Island

    Rating: ★★★★½


    Out Of The Dust by Karen Hesse

    June 19th, 2013 by

    out-of-the-dust_karen-hesseSubmitted by Celia, Age 11 from Rhode Island

    Rating: ★★★★½

    Billie Jo lives with her mom and dad in a town where it barley rains, dust storms destroy lots of iteams, and crops are dying. Billie Jo loves playing piano and she is very talented on piano. but after the accident everything changes. her life goes downhill and lets just say shes not the same. will her life get better? what accident changed her life? your just gonna have to find out in this amazing realistic fiction book!

    Gabriel’s Horses: Book Review

    February 19th, 2012 by

    In honor of Black History Month, I picked up a copy of Alison Hart’s Gabriel’s Horses — but I wish I had known about it sooner! Let me tell you: I could not put this book down!

    Gabriel is an enslaved youth on a Kentucky farm during the Civil War. He works alongside his father, a free man, with the horses on the Woodville Farm — caring for them, cleaning up after them, and occasionally even riding them. Gabriel’s two big dreams are to be free and to be a winning jockey in a horse race. Even though Master Giles is kinder than most slave owners, Gabriel longs for the day he’ll have the money to buy his freedom.

    When Gabriel’s father enlists in the Union Army to fight for the North, a new horse trainer (a cruel one :() comes to Woodville Farm, and Gabriel’s chances for freedom seem hopeless. He considers enlisting in the army too, but cannot leave his mother. On top of all that, bandits are circling Woodville Farm, setting their keen and thieving eyes on the beautiful and fast thoroughbreds… but Gabriel certainly isn’t going to let bandits steal Aristo, Tenpenny, and the other horses he loves!

    This is an excellent, fast-paced book if you want to learn about life as an enslaved youth during the Civil War and if you like horses. I love historical fiction and books about horses, and never thought that the two genres would overlap so perfectly. I’ve never read much about horse racing and jockeying, so that topic was especially interesting! I also really enjoyed the last section of the book, where the author explains a little of the historical background behind the Civil War, Black soldiers, and horse racing back in that time.

    Gabriel’s Horses is the first book in the Racing to Freedom Trilogy, followed by Gabriel’s Triumph and Gabriel’s Journey. I’m excited to pick those up and find out what happens with Gabriel. If you’ve had a chance to dive into any of the trilogy, leave your thoughts in the comments below or submit a book review!

    — Nancy

    Nancy loves reading about horses but has only ridden a horse once. It was really slow (and safe) but disappointing. So she’ll stick to reading about them.

    More about Nancy »

    Review copy of Gabriel’s Horses provided by the publisher.

    Celebrating School Integration

    May 17th, 2010 by

    Have you heard of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka? On this day in 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that racially segregated public schools were unconstitutional.

    And maybe your teachers already talked about this in class, but I sure as heck didn’t know until just now that today is the anniversary of that super important decision. And the day is almost over! It got me thinking (a rare occurrence, ha ha): why isn’t there a holiday for this? And not just because I want the day off of work! Although that would obviously be a bonus…

    But seriously, the court ruling is a pretty big deal and continues to influence judges today, and I think it deserves a little somethin’ somethin’ in its honor. Except I don’t have the power to declare a special day in commemoration. But I can make a recommended booklist! Almost as good, right?

    Nonfiction about the first days of integration:

    • Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges
    • Remember Little Rock: The Time, the People, the Stories by Paul Robert Walker

    Fiction about discrimination, and friendship, in a school setting:

    • A Friendship For Today by Patricia C. McKissack
    • Belle Teal by Ann M. Martin
    • The Liberation of Gabriel King by K.L. Going

    — Karen

    Karen attended public school from elementary school through high school. And she’s darn tootin’ proud of it! (Although a bit ashamed of having used the term “darn tootin.'”)
    More about Karen »

    Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

    December 2nd, 2009 by

    island-of-the-blue-dolphinsReviewed by: Mary, Age 9 from Indiana

    Rating: ★★★★★

    This book is about an advetrous girl named Karanna who lives on a island . She has to be brave for herself and her brother. She has to hunt and defend for herself and her brother. I wish I could tell you more but, the story would be spoiled.
    Thanks for reading!!!!

    Kidsmomo Podcast #7: “History Repeating”

    October 5th, 2009 by

    From the 21st century to the 1860s, then on to Depression-era Illinois and California during the Gold Rush — even all the way back to the Stone Age… In our latest podcast on historical fiction, we fire up the time machine in our minds! (As opposed to the time machine in the basement — never using that thing again after what happened last time. Let’s just say, Karen’s left eyebrow is still growing back funny.)

    ALSO, we reveal the answer to our historical Mystery Book Theater! And a big congrats to these super sleuths who got it right:

    • Tessa, age 9, from Ohio — our big winner!
    • Peter, age 11, from Pennsylvania
    • Anna, age 11
    • Riley, age 9, from California
    • Tyler, age 14, from Ohio

    (And also cheers to Greg, Maggi, and Sharnon — three adults who got into the act and sent in their guesses too!)

      Download the MP3 (11.2 MB)

    • From puke in the 1860s to parties in the 1920s (plus cavemen!)
    • Our historical fiction picks (By the Great Horn Spoon and A Long Way From Chicago + A Year Down Yonder)
    • A review from YOU (Between Two Seas)

    And when you’re done listening, don’t forget: our next theme is mysteries! So watch our latest Mystery Book Theater video and track down these intriguing mystery books.)

    AND… SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: We’re extending our mystery theme for two weeks because we’ll be out of town next weekend. Nope, we’re not slacking; we’ll be in Washington, DC for the first ever Tween Girl Summit! [Insert joke here about how we both have the mentalities of tween girls even though we’re supposedly adults — like we haven’t heard that before!] If you’ll be at the summit too, leave a comment and let us know! And for everyone else, please try to go on with your lives without a new podcast or Mystery Book Theater next week. We know it will be hard, but be strong. We’ll be back in full force on 10/19 with a new theme, and we’ll still be blogging as usual along the way.

    — Nancy and Karen

    Between Two Seas by Marie-Louise Jensen

    September 30th, 2009 by

    Between Two Seas by Marie-Louise JensenReviewed by: Bethan, age 12

    Rating: ★★★★★

    This was probably the best historical fiction novel I’ve ever read. It’s set in the 1800’s and its about a girl called Marianne, who is told by her dying mother to go to leave England and find her father who lives in Denmark.

    Kidsmomo Featured Review

    Featured in "History Repeating”

    I won’t tell you anymore, but the author (Marie-Louise Jensen) has a great way of tellin the story and its unable to put down. So if you want a great historical fiction book, read this!

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