Historical Fiction Books Your Middle Grade Readers Can Learn From

Historical fiction is a great way to get younger readers interested in history while still being engaged with a creative plot. These are our 9 favorite historical fiction novels that any middle grade student would love!

Snow Treasure: This is a piece of fiction for history lovers. The story is set in Norway during the second world war and follows a group of Norwegian children and their beloved sleds transporting gold past the German sentries to be taken safely to America. Of course, they encounter many complications in their seemingly brilliant plan, but the kids continue to work together to elude the Nazis that have taken over their home country.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret: Hugo is an orphan, a clock keeper, and a thief in this steampunk story set in 1930s Paris. He sets out to fix an automaton his father left behind, a task which leads him to a run-in with an irritable old toymaker and a friendship with the man’s goddaughter, Isabelle. By working together, the two friends discover the secrets of their parents and guardians, as well as the world of classic film. This hefty 533-page book won the Caldecott Medal, an award for picture books, because of its 284 pages of spell-binding illustrations.

The Great Brain: A quick-paced, funny, and sentimental read, “The Great Brain” is about Tom, a clever boy growing up in the early 1900’s. He is idolized by the narrator, his younger brother, J.D. The scrapes the boys get themselves into are laugh-out-loud funny, and the historical setting teaches kids about the past in a fun, smart way. Action-packed, Tom’s intelligence and quick-thinking keep the plot moving and make for an enjoyable read. The relationship between the brothers is sweet and well-portrayed, and the shenanigans they get themselves into are reminiscent of the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. A great book for anyone who loves stories about brothers, fun historical time periods, and mischievous misadventures!

Esperanza Rising: Esperanza always lived a luxurious life: she had her own servants, beautiful dresses, and a big house. But when tragedy strikes during this Great Depression period tale, Esperanza and her mother are forced to flee to California to a camp for Mexican farm workers. Of course, Esperanza isn’t used to financial problems or hard labor, and the devastating change shocks her. Will she be able to rise above what has happened to her and her mother?

Rooftoppers: Sophie was a baby found floating in the English Channel in a cello case after a devastating shipwreck. Despite remembering her mother waving for help that day, her guardian assures her that her mother is almost positively dead. Sophie, however, holds on to that shred of hope and flees to Paris, using the address on the cello case to search for her mom, and befriending a group of helpful rooftoppers as Sophie races against time to find the truth.

The Mighty Miss Malone: Deza is incredibly brilliant. But when the Great Depression hits and no jobs are left for the African-American men in her town, her father leaves to find work and Deza’s whole family embarks on a search for him. As their family continues to separate, fall apart, and find themselves in unfortunate circumstances, Deza’s hope of finding her father and redeeming the life she had before the depression begins to fade.

One Came Home: One Came Home hold multiple awards for its incredible themes and story. In Wisconsin, 1871, Georgie says something she definitely shouldn’t have and her elder sister Agatha leaves her family. When an unidentifiable corpse shows up in Agatha’s clothes, everyone assumes it is she who is dead. But Georgia refuses to buy it. Leaving her family and the body behind, she sets out on a journey through the western frontier, stopping at nothing to find the truth–and, hopefully, her older sister alive.

Salt: Anikwa and James: just two boys in 1812, except one is an Indian and one is a colonist. Tensions are rising, trade has been put to a halt, and a war is brewing. The boys are caught between what matters most and where their loyalties lie. Will their friendship find a way to survive, and more importantly, will they?