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Historical Fiction for Middle Grade and YA Readers

Go back in time to see how tweens and teens lived and how they faced their challenges.

In this booklist:

Middle Grade Titles

Cover of Bea and the New Deal Horse

Abandoned by her father after Black Tuesday, thirteen-year-old Bea convinces Mrs. Scott to take in her and her sister in exchange for farm work and Bea bonds with a seemingly untrainable horse.

Cover of The Bluest Sky
Christina Diaz

A boy and his family must decide whether to remain in Cuba under a repressive government or risk everything for the chance of a new beginning in this gripping story from the award-winning author of The Red Umbrella.

Cover of The Button Box
Bridget Hodder and
Fawzia Gilani-Williams
Harshad Marathe

With the help of a magic button, Jewish Ava and Muslim Nadeem go back in time to ancient Morocco to help Prince Abdur Rahman escape to Spain and fulfill his destiny as the ruler of a country in which Jews and Muslims work together to make medieval Spain a center of science, mathematics, music, and poetry.

Cover of In the Beautiful Country

In 1980, ten-year-old Anna and her parents finalize their immigration from Taiwan to California, and as she settles in to her new home, Anna is confronted by the stark difference between her dreams and her reality.

Cover of The Rhythm of Time
Questlove and
S.A. Cosby

After accidentally traveling back in time and rewriting the future, twelve-year-old best friends Rahim and Kasia must work together to restore their timeline.

Cover of A Seed in the Sun

Lula, a farm-working girl with big dreams, meets Dolores Huerta, Larry Itliong, and other labor rights activists and joins the 1965 protest for workers' rights.

Cover of The Star That Always Stays
Anna Rose

When fourteen-year-old Norvia moves from Beaver Island to Boyne City in 1914, she has to contend with a new school, a first crush, and a blended family, but she also must keep secret her parents' divorce and her Ojibwe heritage. Includes author's note.

Cover of Three Strike Summer

Gloria Mae Willard finds herself uprooted and working on a California peach orchard, where she tries to join the secret, all-boys baseball team that she's desperate to play on.

Cover of We Were the Fire: Birmingh
Shelia P.

Determined to stand up for their rights, eleven-year-old Rufus, a Black boy, and his friends participate in the 1963 civil rights protests in Birmingham, Alabama.

Cover of World Made of Glass

Iris tries to act normal at school, going through the motions and joking around with her friends. But nothing is normal, and sometimes it feels like she'll never laugh again. How can she, when her dad is dying of a virus that's off-limits to talk about? In a sea of rage and grief, Iris resolves to speak out against the rampant fear, misinformation, and prejudice surrounding AIDS--and find the pieces of Dad that she never knew before. 


YA Titles

Cover of Beneath the Wide Silk Sky
Emily Inouye

With the recent death of her mother and the possibility of her family losing their farm, Samantha Sakamoto does not have space in her life for dreams, but when faced with prejudice and violence in her Washington State community after Pearl Harbor, she is determined to use her photography to document the bigotry around her.

Cover of The Davenports

The Davenports are one of the few Black families of immense wealth and status in 1910 Chicago, and the two daughters, Olivia and Helen, are finding their way and finding love--even where they are not supposed to.

Cover of Destination Unknown

it's 1987 in New York City, and Micah is at a dance club, trying to pretend he's more out and outgoing than he really is. C.J. isn't just out -- he’s completely out there, and Micah can't help but be both attracted to and afraid. As their lives become more and more entangled in the AIDS epidemic that’s laying waste to their community, and the AIDS activism that will ultimately bring a strong voice to their demands, whatever Micah and C.J. have between them will be tested, strained, pushed, and pulled.

Cover of An Emotion of Great Deligh

This is a a searing look into the world of a single Muslim family in the wake of 9/11. It's about a child of immigrants forging a blurry identity, falling in love, and finding hope--in the midst of a modern war.

Cover of For Lamb

An interracial friendship between two teenaged girls goes tragically wrong in this novel set in the Jim Crow South.

Cover of Give Me Some Truth

In 1980 life is hard on the Tuscarora Reservation in upstate New York, and most of the teenagers feel like they are going nowhere: Carson Mastick dreams of forming a rock band, and Maggi Bokoni longs to create her own conceptual artwork instead of the traditional beadwork that her family sells to tourists--but tensions are rising between the reservation and the surrounding communities, and somehow in the confusion of politics and growing up Carson and Maggi have to make a place for themselves.

Cover of Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Wi
Susan Azim

After lying on her college admissions, seventeen-year-old Jasmine needs to win her senior class election, but the Iran Hostage Crisis explodes across the nightly news and her opponent begins to stir up anti-Iranian hysteria at school causing Jasmine to reconcile with her identity in way she never has before.

Cover of The Librarian of Auschwitz
Antonio Iturbe, Lilit Thwaites (translator)
and adapted by Salva Rubio
Loreto Aroca

Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this tells the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.

Cover of Nothing Sung and Nothing S

Charlotte Kraus would follow Angelika Haas anywhere. Which is how she finds herself in an underground club one Friday night the summer before World War II, dancing to contraband American jazz and swing music. Unable to resist the allure of sharing this secret with Geli, Charlie returns to the club again and again, despite the dangers of breaking the Nazi Party's rules. Soon, terrified by the tightening vise of Hitler's power, Charlie and the other Swingjugend are drawn to larger and larger acts of rebellion. But the war will test how much they are willing to risk--and to lose.

Cover of Torch

Told from the perspectives of three characters, Torch explores the devastating impact of a totalitarian regime and the different ways young people carve out futures for themselves against impossible odds

Cover of The Turning Pointe
Vanessa L.

Weighed down by family expectations, Rosa is at a crossroads, desperate to escape so she can show everyone what she can do when freed of her pointe shoes. Now is her chance to break away from a life in tulle, grooving to that unmistakable Minneapolis sound reverberating through every bone in her body.

Cover of When the Ground Is Hard

At Swaziland's Keziah Christian Academy, where the wealth and color of one's father determines one's station, once-popular Adele bonds with poor Lottie over a shared copy of "Jane Eyre" and a series of disasters.