The 10 Best Middle Grade Historical Fiction Books to Read

As young readers mature, they often seek out books that not only entertain them but also educate and inspire them. Middle grade historical fiction books are an excellent way to introduce young readers to history, culture, and diverse perspectives.

The 10 Best Middle Grade Historical Fiction Books to Read

Why Middle Grade Historical Fiction Matters

Reading middle grade historical fiction books can offer several benefits for young readers. Not only do these books entertain and engage readers, but they can also promote empathy, understanding, and a love for history.

Encouraging a Love for History

For many young readers, history classes can be dry and unexciting. However, historical fiction books offer a personal and relatable window into the past. By immersing themselves in the stories of historical characters, young readers can develop a fascination with history that extends beyond the classroom.

Through reading middle grade historical fiction, young readers can discover the fascinating characters, cultures, and time periods that make up our rich history. They can explore the world of Ancient Egypt through the eyes of a young pharaoh, or experience life as a pioneer on the American frontier. By learning about history in an engaging and entertaining way, young readers are more likely to retain what they have learned and develop a lifelong love for history.

Building Empathy and Understanding

Historical fiction books can also help young readers develop empathy and understanding towards people and cultures different from their own. By exploring different perspectives, readers can gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of historical events and the diverse experiences of the people who lived through them.

For example, a middle grade historical fiction book set during the Civil Rights Movement can help young readers understand the struggles faced by African Americans during that time. By seeing the events through the eyes of a young protagonist, readers can develop a sense of empathy and a deeper understanding of the importance of equality and justice.

Middle grade historical fiction books can also help readers understand and empathize with people from different time periods and cultures, helping them become more open-minded and accepting of diverse perspectives. By reading about characters from different backgrounds and cultures, young readers can learn to appreciate the similarities and differences between people and develop a greater sense of empathy and understanding.

In conclusion, middle grade historical fiction books are an important tool for engaging young readers with history and promoting empathy and understanding. By immersing themselves in the stories of historical characters, young readers can develop a love for history that extends beyond the classroom and gain a deeper understanding of the diverse experiences of people throughout history.

The Importance of Diverse Perspectives in Historical Fiction

One of the most powerful aspects of middle grade historical fiction books is their ability to offer diverse perspectives on historical events and figures.

Exploring Different Cultures and Time Periods

Historical fiction books can transport young readers to different parts of the world and different historical periods, exposing them to the rich and varied experiences of people throughout history. By experiencing stories from different cultures, readers can learn not only about the past but also about the different customs, languages, and beliefs that make our world so diverse and fascinating.

For example, a book set in ancient China can introduce readers to the customs of foot binding and the importance of filial piety. Meanwhile, a book set in medieval Europe can teach readers about the feudal system and the role of knights in society. These stories not only provide historical context, but also offer a glimpse into the daily lives of people from different cultures and time periods.

Challenging Stereotypes and Misconceptions

Through reading middle grade historical fiction books, young readers can also challenge preconceived ideas and stereotypes they may hold about certain people, events, or cultures. By exploring different perspectives, readers can learn to recognize and appreciate the complexities and contradictions of history.

For instance, a book about the American Civil War can offer a nuanced portrayal of both Union and Confederate soldiers, highlighting the fact that not all soldiers on either side were fighting for the same reasons. Similarly, a book about the Japanese internment during World War II can shed light on the experiences of Japanese Americans and the injustice they faced, challenging the stereotype that all Japanese Americans were disloyal to the United States (for more great Japanese books, see our guide here).

Overall, middle grade historical fiction books provide an important opportunity for young readers to expand their understanding of history and the world around them. By offering diverse perspectives and challenging stereotypes, these books can help foster empathy and understanding, making them an essential part of any young reader’s library.

Top 5 Middle Grade Historical Fiction Books for Adventure Lovers

If you’re a fan of adventure and historical fiction, then you’re in luck! Here are five amazing middle grade books that are sure to capture your imagination and take you on a thrilling journey through history.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The War that Saved My Life

Set during World War II, this book tells the story of Ada, a young girl with a clubfoot who escapes her abusive mother and finds a new home in the English countryside. As she learns to love and trust her new family, she also becomes involved in the war effort, facing danger and adventure along the way.

Readers will be captivated by Ada’s bravery and resilience as she navigates the challenges of war and the complexities of family relationships. This book is a must-read for anyone who loves stories of courage and triumph in the face of adversity.

You can read this book here.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Island of the Blue Dolphins: A Newbery Award Winner

Based on a true story, this book tells the story of a young Native American girl who is left alone on a deserted island off the coast of California. As she learns to survive on her own, she also grapples with the loss of her family and the difficulties of living in a world that is changing rapidly.

Readers will be swept away by the vivid descriptions of island life and the powerful themes of resilience and self-discovery. This book is a timeless classic that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

You can read this book here.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Chains (Seeds of America Book 1)

Set during the American Revolution, this book tells the story of Isabel, a young slave who struggles to find freedom and independence in a world torn apart by war. As she navigates the dangers and complexities of life as a slave in colonial America, Isabel also becomes involved in the fight for American independence.

This book is a powerful exploration of the history of slavery in America and the fight for freedom that defined the Revolutionary War. Readers will be inspired by Isabel’s strength and determination as she fights for her own freedom and the freedom of her country.

You can read this book here.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate: (Newbery Honor Book)

Set in Texas in 1899, this book tells the story of Calpurnia Tate, a young girl with a passion for science who struggles to find her place in a world that expects her to conform to traditional gender roles. As she watches the world around her change and evolve, Calpurnia also grapples with her own desires and ambitions.

This book is a celebration of curiosity and creativity, and a powerful reminder that anyone can achieve greatness if they follow their passions and stay true to themselves. Readers will be inspired by Calpurnia’s determination to pursue her dreams, no matter what obstacles stand in her way.

You can read this book here.

The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz

The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

Set in medieval France, this book tells the story of three young children who go on a quest to save a holy relic from destruction. Along the way, they encounter knights, dragons, and miracles, as well as questions about faith, identity, and the power of storytelling.

This book is a thrilling adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. With its rich historical detail and complex characters, The Inquisitor’s Tale is a must-read for anyone who loves stories of bravery, magic, and the power of friendship.

Top 5 Middle Grade Historical Fiction Books for Thought-Provoking Themes

Historical fiction is a genre that allows readers to travel through time and experience the joys and struggles of people from different eras. These books not only entertain but also educate readers about the past and the present. Here are some of the top middle-grade historical fiction books that offer thought-provoking themes.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Esperanza Rising

Set during the Great Depression, Esperanza Rising tells the story of a young Mexican girl who immigrates to California with her family and must learn to navigate the challenges of life as a migrant worker. As she faces discrimination, poverty, and loss, Esperanza also learns important lessons about family, community, and resilience.

The book explores the themes of social and economic inequality, immigration, and the importance of family. It highlights the struggles of migrant workers and the injustices they faced during the Great Depression. Esperanza’s journey is a powerful reminder of the resilience and strength of the human spirit.

Mandeville by Linda Lee Greene

Mandeville is a thrilling adventure set in the late 19th century. The book tells the story of a young girl who is kidnapped by pirates and taken to an island in the Caribbean. As she navigates the dangers and complexities of life among the pirates, she also grapples with questions about loyalty, bravery, and ethics.

The book explores the themes of morality, loyalty, and the consequences of one’s actions. It challenges readers to think about what is right and wrong and the importance of standing up for one’s beliefs. Mandeville is a gripping tale of adventure and self-discovery that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Puffin Modern Classics) (Logans Book 4)

Set in the early 20th century, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry tells the story of a young African American girl who faces discrimination and injustice in rural Mississippi. As she fights to protect her family and her community, she also grapples with questions about race, identity, and the legacy of slavery.

The book explores the themes of racial inequality, discrimination, and the struggle for civil rights. It highlights the challenges faced by African Americans in the early 20th century and the importance of standing up for what is right. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is a powerful and moving story that will inspire readers to fight for justice and equality.

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Bud, Not Buddy: (Newbery Medal Winner)

Bud, Not Buddy is a heartwarming story set during the Great Depression. The book tells the story of a young African American boy who embarks on a journey to find his father. As he faces poverty, discrimination, and uncertainty, he also learns important lessons about courage, resilience, and the power of family.

The book explores the themes of family, friendship, and the importance of perseverance. It highlights the struggles faced by African Americans during the Great Depression and the importance of hope and determination. Bud, Not Buddy is a touching and inspiring story that will stay with readers long after they finish reading.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Number the Stars: A Newbery Award Winner

Number the Stars is a powerful and moving story set during World War II. The book tells the story of a young girl in Denmark who helps her Jewish friend escape from the Nazis. As she risks her life to protect her friend, she also learns important lessons about friendship, courage, and the power of standing up for what is right.

The book explores the themes of bravery, friendship, and the importance of standing up against injustice. It highlights the horrors of the Holocaust and the bravery of those who risked their lives to save others. Number the Stars is a poignant and unforgettable story that will inspire readers to stand up for what is right.

Conclusion

Middle grade historical fiction books offer young readers a rich and engaging way to learn about history, culture, and diversity. From tales of adventure and bravery to stories that challenge stereotypes and misconceptions, these books offer something for every reader. Whether read alone or with a parent or teacher, these books can inspire young readers to become lifelong learners and to appreciate the richness and complexity of the world around them.

FAQs

What age range is middle grade?

Middle-grade literature targets children aged 8-12.

Should my 8-year-old be reading historical fiction?

This age is a brilliant time to introduce your child to historical fiction. It can help them learn more about history, understand more about historical timelines, and read more emotive work.

What are the best historical fiction books for middle graders?

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan, Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk, and The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman are all good choices.

YouTube video
Eddison Monroe
Latest posts by Eddison Monroe (see all)