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Historical Fiction for Middle School and Teen Readers

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

Middle School Titles

Cover of The Blackbird Girls
Anne
Blankman
2020

Told in alternating perspectives among three girls--Valentina and Oksana in 1986 and Rifka in 1941--this story shows that hatred, intolerance, and oppression are no match for the power of true friendship.

Cover of Peacemaker
Joseph
Bruchac
2021

The Five Nations of the Iroquois have been at war with one another for far too long, and no one can remember what it was like to live in peace. Twelve year-old Okwaho seeks revenge for his friend, but before he can retaliate, a visitor with a message of peace comes to him in the woods. The Peacemaker shares his lesson tales--stories that make Okwaho believe that this man can convince the leaders of the five fighting nations to set down their weapons. Can all of them come together to form the Iroquois Great League of Peace?

Cover of The Journey of Little Char
Christopher Paul
Curtis
2018

When his poor sharecropper father is killed in an accident and leaves the family in debt, twelve-year-old Little Charlie agrees to accompany fearsome plantation overseer Cap'n Buck north in pursuit of people who have stolen from him; Cap'n Buck tells Little Charlie that his father's debt will be cleared when the fugitives are captured, which seems like a good deal until Little Charlie comes face-to-face with the people he is chasing.

Cover of Just Like That
Gary D.
Schmidt
2021

Following the death of her closest friend in summer 1968, Meryl Lee Kowalski goes off to St. Elene's Preparatory Academy for Girls, where she struggles to navigate the boarding school's traditions and a social structure heavily weighted toward students from wealthy backgrounds. In a parallel story, Matt Coffin has wound up on the Maine coast near St. Elene's with a pillowcase full of money lifted from the leader of a criminal gang, fearing the gang's relentless, destructive pursuit. Both young people gradually dispel their loneliness, finding a way to be hopeful and also finding each other.

Cover of All He Knew
Helen
Frost
2020

In 1939 six-year-old Henry, who is deaf, is taken from his family and placed in a home for the feeble-minded. Victor arrives at Riverview to serve as an attendant and quickly sees that Henry is far from unteachable--he is brave, clever, and sometimes mischievous.  In Victor's care, Henry begins to see how things can change for the better. Heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful, and inspired by true events this provides sharp insight into a little-known element of history.
 

Cover of A Place to Belong
Cynthia
Kadohata
2019

Twelve-year-old Hanako and her family, reeling from their confinement in an internment camp, renounce their American citizenship to move to Hiroshima, a city devastated by the atomic bomb dropped by Americans.

Cover of Red, White, and Whole
Rajani
Larocca
2021

Reha feels disconnected from her mother, or Amma, although their names are linked--Reha means "star" and Punam means "moon"--but they are a universe apart. Then Reha finds out that her Amma is sick. Really sick. Reha, who dreams of becoming a doctor even though she can't stomach the sight of blood, is determined to make her Amma well again. 

Cover of Under the Broken Sky
Mariko
Nagai
2019

When Soviet troops invade Japanese-occupied Manchuria during the last days of World War II, twelve-year-old Natsu Kimura must care for her younger sister as they struggle to survive and return to Japan.

Cover of Becoming Muhammed Ali
James Patterson and
Kwame Alexander
Dawud Anyabwile
2020

Before he was a household name, Cassius Clay was a kid with struggles like any other. Kwame Alexander and James Patterson join forces to vividly depict his life up to age seventeen in both prose and verse, including his childhood friends, struggles in school, the racism he faced, and his discovery of boxing. 

Cover of Root Magic
Eden
Royce
2021

It's 1963, and things are changing for Jezebel Turner. Her beloved grandmother has just passed away. The local police deputy won't stop harassing her family. With school integration arriving in South Carolina, Jez and her twin brother, Jay, are about to begin the school year with a bunch of new kids. But the biggest change comes when Jez and Jay turn eleven-- and their uncle, Doc, tells them he's going to train them in rootwork.
 

Cover of Beni’s War
Tammar
Stein
2020

It's Yom Kippur Eve in 1973, and shocking news comes over the radio: a strike on Israel has begun, led by a coalition of Arab states. As bombs drop around twelve year-old Beni and his family, they flee to safety, every day hoping for news of his brother and the developments of the war. Beni must find a way to aid the war effort in his own way, proving that he too can be a hero, even as he learns along the way that there is dignity in every person, including the people he considers the enemy.

Teen Titles

Cover of This Light Between Us: a N
Andrew Xia
Fukuda
2020

A story of World War II about the unlikeliest of pen pals--a Japanese American boy and a French Jewish girl. From the desolation of an internment camp on the plains of Manzanar to the horrors of Auschwitz and the devastation of European battlefields, the only thing they can hold onto are the memories of their letters. But nothing can dispel the light between them.

Cover of Last Night at the Telegrap
Malinda
Lo
2021

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father--despite his hard-won citizenship--Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

Cover of All The Stars Denied
Guadalupe Garcia
McCall
2018

When resentment surges during the Great Depression in a Texas border town, Estrella, fifteen, organizes a protest against the treatment of Tejanos and soon finds herself with her mother and baby brother in Mexico.

Cover of Angel of Greenwood
Randi
Pink
2021

Isaiah never noticed Angel as anything but a dorky, Bible toting church girl. Their English teacher offers them a job on her mobile library, a three-wheel, two-seater bike. Angel can't turn down the money and Isaiah is soon eager to be in such close quarters with Angel every afternoon. But life changes on May 31, 1921, when a vicious white mob storms the Black community of Greenwood, leaving the town destroyed and thousands of residents displaced. Only then, Isaiah, Angel, and their peers realize who their real enemies are.

Cover of 7 Generations: A Plains Cr
David A.
Robertson
Scott B. Henderson
2012

This compiled graphic novel follows one Plains Cree family from the early 19th century to the present day. For Edwin, the story of his ancestors from both the distant and recent past must guide him through an uncertain present to the dawn of a new future. 

Cover of Yara’s Spring
Jamal Saeed and
Sharon McKay
2020

Yara's Spring is a story of coming of age against all odds and the many kinds of love that bloom even in the face of war. Jamal Saeed spent 12 years as a Prisoner of Consciousness before escaping to Dubai and eventually moving to Canada. He shared his own experiences and worked with Canadian writer Sharon McKay on this book, hoping that it would help readers understand the kind of life many Syrian children and teens face. 

Cover of The Awakening of Malcolm X
Illyasah
Shabazz
2021

While in Charlestown Prison in the 1940s, young Malcolm Little reads all the books in the library, joins the debate team and the Nation of Islam, and emerges as Malcolm X. This is written by his daughter Ilyasah Shabazz along with 2019 Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe award-winning author, Tiffany D. Jackson.

Cover of The Enigma Game
Elizabeth
Wein
2020

Told in multiple voices, fifteen-year-old Jamaican Louisa Adair uncovers an Enigma machine in the small Scottish village where she cares for an elderly German woman, and helps solve a puzzle that could turn the tide of World War II.

Cover of Cane Warriors
Alex
Wheatle
2020

Moa is fourteen.The only life he has ever known is toiling on the Frontier sugarcane plantation for endless hot days, fearing the vicious whips of the overseers. Then one night he learns of an uprising, led by the charismatic Tacky. Moa is to be a cane warrior, and fight for the freedom of all the enslaved people in the nearby plantations. But before they can escape, Moa and his friend Keverton must face their first great task: to kill their overseer, Misser Donaldson. Time is ticking as the day of the uprising approaches. 

Cover of Kent State
Deborah
Wiles
2020

Told in multiple voices from a number of vantage points -- protestor, Guardsman, townie, student -- Deborah Wiles gives a moving, terrifying, galvanizing picture of what happened that weekend in Ohio . . . an event that still resonates deeply.