For most of the last year and a half, I worked in elementary schools. First as a substitute teacher and then as a teacher’s assistant/aide/paraprofessional. In that time, as you would expect, I read a lot of children’s books. Here are some of my favorite history books for kids! (Full disclosure, this post contains affiliate links!)
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko
This wonderful book is about the Lovings, an interracial couple whose marriage caused them to be arrested in their home state of Virginia. They took their case all the way to the Supreme Court (the case of Loving v. Virginia) and won. The illustrations are beautiful and it’s a great way to talk about the Civil Rights Movement beyond MLK and Rosa Parks.
When Pigcasso Met Mootisse by Nina Landen
As you probably guessed from the title, this is about Picasso and Matisse. Except Picasso is a pig named Pigcasso and Matisse is a bull named Mootisse. They’re rival artists who feud and make a mess that turns into a masterpiece. It’s one of my favorite kids’ books because it is an intro to Picasso and Matisse but it also teaches kids how to problem solve. It’s a really fun, really cute book.
Katie and the Sunflowers by James Mayhew
Another art history book! This one is about Katie, who visits the art museum with her grandma. When grandma falls asleep in the museum (yikes), Katie steps into paintings by Van Gogh, Gaugin, and Cezanne. Adventure ensues and kids get an introductory lesson in the post-impressionist masters. If you like this one, there are quite a few other stories about Katie and famous works of art!
The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson
This was actually the first ebook I ever purchased and read! It is about Leon Leyson, who was ten years old when WWII began. He and his family survived the Holocaust because they were fortunate enough to work in Oskar Schindler’s factory. In fact, Leon was one of the youngest people on Schindler’s List. It’s great for older elementary aged children and middle schoolers who want to learn more about the Holocaust.
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
I actually have not read this book but a class that I worked with did a unit on it and it was very popular! It is about a little girl who has never been let outside because her mother is embarrassed by the girl’s disability. When WWII breaks out, however, the girl’s brother is sent out of London and the girl sneaks out to go with him. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it and watched 4th graders choose to read ahead during free time. I’ll repeat that: 4th graders chose to read ahead!
Survivors: True Stories of Children in the Holocaust by Allan Zullo
This is another one that I have not personally read but was very popular in classroom libraries. If it got put on the shelf, it wasn’t there long. It is a collection of nine stories of child survivors of the Holocaust. Another great option for older elementary schoolers or middle schoolers who want to learn more about children during the Holocaust.
The ‘I Survived’ Series
This is a historical fiction series that takes kids into war and disaster and if you have kids, you’re probably already familiar with this series! From the Revolutionary War to the 9/11 attacks, there are a lot of books in this series. Normally I’d steer clear of a series of so many books but the kids I worked with loved them. A teacher even recommended that I use them when I was leading a reading group for 2nd graders who were advanced readers.
The ‘Who Was’ series and the ‘What Was’ series
Like the ‘I Survived’ series, there are tons of books in both of these series. The ‘Who Was’ series covers everyone from Andy Warhol to Gandhi, and everyone in between. The ‘What Was’ series is the same premise, but with events and sites. They’re pretty short books but still very informative. If you’re looking to introduce your child to a certain person, place, or thing, these are a great place to start!
The ‘Getting to Know’ Series
This series is all about artists. No matter which artist your kiddo is into or which artist you’d like to teach them about, chances are good that there is a book about them in this series. These books are relatively short and can be read in one sitting but they’re pretty detailed and have really fun illustrations.
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