Reading Recommendations

Looking for your next favorite book? Check out this handy resource from our Barbara K. Lipman Children's History Library collection (picture books for children under age 8) and from our Reading Into History family book club (chapter books for children, ages 9 - 12). Find familiar friends and meet new characters from America and New York’s past!

Picture Books

American History Books for Middle Readers

Ain’t So Awful Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
After a rocky start, Cindy (Zomorod to her parents) finds a comfortable niche in her California middle school until political upheaval and revolution in Iran reach the United States, threatening her future and her family’s safety.

Fighting for Justice: Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi
When Fred Korematsu, a young Japanese-American man, defied U.S. governmental orders by refusing to report to prison camps during World War II, he and his allies set in motion a landmark civil liberties case.

The Greatest: Muhammad Ali by Walter Dean Myers
This biography takes readers on a journey through Ali’s life in and out of the ring.

Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson
The final book in the acclaimed Seeds of America trilogy, which looks at the American Revolution through the experiences of children held in slavery.

Same Sun Here by Neela Vaswani and Silas House
A novel-in-letters that explores the 2008 election season through the eyes of two fictional kids confronting issues in their communities.

Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider by Jean Fritz
The story of Alexander Hamilton's life, from his humble beginnings to his work for George Washington to his landmark time as the first Secretary of the Treasury.

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan
A novel that weaves together the individual stories of a boy in Germany during the early 1930s, two orphans in Pennsylvania during the mid-1930s, and a girl in California in the early 1940s as the same harmonica lands in their lives.

Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Bradley shows us the complicated world of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello through the eyes of two of his children, Beverly and Maddy, and an enslaved boy on the property, Peter. The harsh reality, however, is that Beverly and Maddy are also enslaved, as they are also the children of Sally Hemings, Jefferson’s late wife’s half-sister who is herself a slave.

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick
This Newbery Honor-awarded book follows orphaned Homer P. Figg on a journey to find his older brother who has been sold into the Union Army. Figg makes it from Pine Swamp, Maine, to the battlefield at Gettysburg.

The Detective's Assistant by Kate Hannigan
Orphaned young Nell proves herself quite useful to her detective aunt, the real-life Kate Warne, in uncovering some of the richest and most dangerous criminal activity of the Antebellum period.

How I Became A Ghost by Tim Tingle
What was it like to travel the Trail of Tears? Told in the words of Isaac, a Choctaw boy who does not survive the Trail of Tears, How I Became a Ghost is a tale of innocence and resilience in the face of tragedy.

Courage Has No Color by Tanya Lee Stone
A fascinating work of nonfiction exploring the struggles and triumphs of the men who formed the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, America’s first black paratroopers.

Bluffton by Matt Phelan
Henry Harrison’s summers are usually filled with a lot of nothing, but that all changes when a vaudeville troupe rolls into town with an elephant, a contortionist, a one-legged tap dancer, and a new friend: a young actor named Buster Keaton.

Salt by Helen Frost
Helen Frost brings us a rare story, written completely in verse, of two boys—one a white settler and there other from the Miami tribe—growing up in the Indiana Territory in 1812.

Left for Dead: A Young Man’s Search for Justice for the USS Indianapolis by Pete Nelson
When 11-year-old Hunter Scott started asking questions about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis during World War II, he never imagined he would rewrite history.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
This 2011 book, winner of the Coretta Scott King Honor Award, Scott O’Dell Prize for Historical Fiction, Newbery Honor, and a National Book Award Finalist, follows 11-year-old Delphine and her younger sisters Vonetta and Fern on a transformational journey from Brooklyn to Oakland in the summer of 1968.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
In the midst of World War I, 16-year-old orphan Hattie Brooks receives a letter from an estranged uncle saying he has left her all his land—in Vida, Montana.

The Dragon’s Child: A Story of Angel Island by Laurence Yep and Dr. Kathleen S. Yep
Laurence Yep and his niece, historian Kathleen Yep, weave a story about Gim Lew Yep, a 10-year-old boy who must immigrate to America with his father in 1922 through Angel Island, based on Mr. Yep’s father’s own story.

Crow by Barbara Wright
Readers follow fictional Moses Thomas, a young African-American boy living in Wilmington, NC through the summer of 1898. When the novel starts, the Thomas family is experiencing the promise of the Reconstruction era, but that tenuous progress is destroyed by the real-life Wilmington Race Riot.  

Deadly by Julie Chibarro
Sixteen-year-old Prudence Galewski doesn't know what she's in for when she takes a job with the Department of Health and Sanitation in 1906 New York City and tries to uncover why so many people are getting sick.

The Giant by Jim Murphy
Jim Murphy takes readers through the story of how a 10-foot-tall "petrified man" was dug up in upstate New York in 1869, displayed as America's greatest spectacle, examined by top scientists—then proven to be a fraud. Who made the Giant, why, and how did they get so many people to believe he was real?

A Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
Twelve year old Tetsu's life completely changes after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when he and his family are forced to relocate to an internment camp in the Arizona desert.

Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
It's 1958, and Arkansas is divided over the subject of school integration. Marlee isn't thinking about all this too much when she starts middle school and becomes friends with Liz, who's suddenly removed from school after it's discovered that she is a light-skinned African American who was passing for white.

The Race to Save the Lord God Bird by Philip Hoose
This gripping nonfiction book brings readers on the epic 200 (plus!) year battle to save the elusive Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
This Newbery Honor Award-winning work of historical fiction takes readers through a summer in the life of Calpurnia Tate, a just-about-to-turn-12 year old girl in Fentress, Texas, in 1899, who makes an incredible discovery with her grandfather.

No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Lewis Michaux's National Memorial African Bookstore was the cultural center of Harlem from the 1930s to the 1970s. The book looks at this extraordinary place and its founder.

We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson
Author Cynthia Levinson tells the history of the Children’s March, its build-up, and its aftermath through the voices of four of its participants, Audrey Faye Hendricks, Washington Booker III, James Stewart and Arnetta Streeter.

The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure by Martin W. Sandler
In this nonfiction book, readers discover the amazing rescue of hundreds of men whose ice-encrusted whaling ships left them trapped in the arctic for the harsh winter of 1897.

Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and its Legacy by Albert Marin
On March 25, 1911, 146 people—mostly young women and immigrants—died in a New York City factory fire that changed the course of history. In this nonfiction book, readers discover the remarkable story of how this fire happened, how it could have been prevented, and how it sparked tremendous changes in laws protecting workers in the United States.

Cooper and the Enchanted Metal Detector by Adam Osterweil
Eleven-year-old Cooper lives with his mother in Elmira, New York. Their family struggles with loss, money, and a battle to save their home and the history of their community.

90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores Galbis
In 1961, Cuban families evacuated 14,000 children to Miami in Operation Pedro Pan. This 2011 Pure Belpre Honor Book for Narrative and 2011 Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year follows Julian and his brothers as they experience this mass migration and end up in a Miami orphanage.

The Brooklyn Nine by Alan Gratz
Alan Gratz takes us through nine generations, or “innings” of one Brooklyn family and its passion for baseball.

Home is With Our Family by Joyce Hansen
Learn about Maria Peters, an African-American girl whose lovely community is about to be destroyed so an enormous "Central Park" can be built. On top of that, Maria's new friend Anna has a secret past that could destroy both their lives. This is a story of resistance, abolitionism, and the power of friendship.

Around the World by Matt Phelan
This graphic novel tells the stories of three people who circumnavigated the globe in different ways: Thomas Stevens did it on a bike, Nellie Bly set a record by steamboat, and Joshua Slocum was the first to make the trip alone on a 36-foot sloop.

Lincoln Shot: A President's Life Remembered by Barry Denenberg
Barry Denenberg brings his unique journalistic style to this biography of Lincoln that's framed as a collection of newspaper articles issued in the days after Lincoln's death, the book details Lincoln's life from boyhood to the end.

Sophia's War by Avi
Follow Sophia Calderwood, a young girl navigating the dangerous world of New York during the American Revolution.

Breaking Ground, Breaking Silence: The Story of New York's African Burial Ground by Joyce Hansen and Gary McGowan
Co-authors Joyce Hansen and Gary McGowan bring this untold history to young readers through the life stories of individuals buried at the site. In doing so, they show readers how, with bones, artifacts, and detective work, archaeologists can reconstruct histories lost through time and prejudice.

Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown
Author Adele Griffin, tells the story of Jennie, a young woman whose twin brother is killed during the Civil War. Jennie lives with her fiance's family, who reluctantly take care of her while her fiance, Will, and his brother, Quinn, are at war. When Quinn returns from battle without Will, some strange things start to happen to Jennie, and she begins to realize that nothing is as it seems.

King of Mulberry Street by Donna Jo Napoli
Dom, a nine-year-old boy from Napoli, is sent to make it big in New York City, where he makes some friends and some more enemies. Learn what life was like in the Lower East Side through the eyes of this brave young boy.

We Rode the Orphan Trains by Andrea Warren
This book tells the real-life stories of children from New York City, who, between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, were sent by train to new families out west.

Facing Frederick by Tonya Bolden
Frederick Douglass is best known for the telling of his own emancipation. But there is much more to Douglass’s story than his time spent enslaved and his famous autobiography.