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Quick Picks: Classic History Book List Titles

Need a good book fast? Here are some of the best history titles on many homeschool book lists. Here you'll find beloved children's stories and compelling historical fiction, sorted from youngest readers to high school students.

Life on the farm from year to year. The farmer packs the ox cart with all the goods that were grown, and made by his family to be sold at the market. He kisses his family good-bye and takes the full ox cart to market to sell all his goods, only to begin the process all over again for the next year. Recommended for ages 3 to 8. The 1980 Caldecott Medal winner.

In 1707, young Sarah Noble and her father traveled through the wilderness to build a new home for their family. "Keep up your courage, Sarah Noble," her mother had said, but Sarah found that it was not always easy to feel brave inside. The dark woods were full of animals and Indians, too, and Sarah was only eight! The true story of Sarah's journey is inspiring. And as she cares for her father and befriends her Indian neighbors, she learns that to be afraid and to be brave is the greatest courage of all. Recommended for ages 7 to 10. A 1955 Newbery Honor book.

This multiple award-winning retelling of Cinderella introduces children to the history, culture, and geography of the African nation of Zimbabwe.  Inspired by a traditional African folktale, this is the story of Mufaro, a father who is proud of his two beautiful daughters. Nyasha is kind and considerate, but everyone except Mufaro knows that Manyara is selfish and bad-tempered. When the Great King decides to take a wife, he invites the most worthy and beautiful daughters in the land to appear before him, Mufaro brings both of his daughters, but only one can be queen. Who will the king choose? Winner of the Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration, as well as numerous other accolades.  32 pages, softcover. Ages 3 and up.

A thousand years ago when the Vikings roamed the seas, led by their Norse gods, there lived a man in Norway called Erik the Red. He was able and strong but his temper was wild, and after a fight he was banned from Norway. So he sailed to Iceland. There he built a farm, found a wife, and lived in peace for a while. But then he began to quarrel and fight again, and it wasn't long before he had to flee from Iceland, too. Now Erik sailed off into the unknown sea toward the setting sun, and there behind a wall of ice he found a new land... Erik the Red had three sons. The one was called Torstein, the second Torvald, and the third was called Leif. And this is the story of Leif, Erik's son, who sailed with his father to Greenland, and who later sailed still farther west and found there the continent of America. Originally published in 1941, this oversized book is beautifully illustrated. Recommended for ages 4 to 11.

Help to ease your child's transition into reading chapter books with the confidence building "Step into Reading" series. This level 5 book is perfect for children who have just started reading chapter books and still like books with colorful pictures. Read all about the Trojan war in this non-fiction account of Grecian history. 48 pages, softcover. Pronunciation guide included.

Libby Mitchell is turning 10, and today is the day that she and her parents climb into a covered wagon and set off on a long journey. They'll go a thousand miles over 2 months! Their trip from Virginia to the deep woods of Michigan is hard, but it's exciting, too! At the end lies their new home in a place that's rugged, wild and full of promise. Recommended for ages 6 to 9, grade 3.

In the days of King Arthur there stood a mighty oak tree within the walls of a castle. Peace reigned in the castle until the fearsome night when Lionel, longlost brother of Lord Weldon, returned to cause trouble and unhappiness.

It was then that Shan, the son of Lord Weldon, took on the duties of a knight and hid the sword in the hollow of the giant oak. The days that followed were filled with adventures that tried the courage of the young boy.

Shan was surprised by bearded robbers in the woods. He met noble knights in plumed helmets, and eventually he even made a trip to high-towered Camelot. His story is filled with the pageantry and color of England in King Arthur's time. It creates a vivid picture of the Knights of the Round Table and the wisdom of King Arthur himself.

Mr. Bulla captures the spirit of those romantic days in a straightforward, exciting manner. The result is another delightful book for his wide audience of young readers. Paul Galdone's vigorous illustrations are as evocative as the text.

From everyone's favorite authors-the d'Aulaires- this celebration of Abraham Lincoln's life is here just in time for the year of his 200th birthday. Recreated with the vivid colors originally intended, this edition was published from the original 1940 printing. Exemplifying Lincoln as the archetypal American hero, this biography follows Honest Abe from his youth in the wilderness of Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois, to his days practicing law, running for office, and eventually becoming president of the United States. Softcover.

Trouble in New France. Working with feverish haste, she selected muskets, pistols, powder and bullets. The sight of a man's hat, an old one that had belonged to her father, lying on a powder cask, gave her an idea. She pulled off her linen cap and put on the hat. It was not too large over her heavy hair, and, seen above the pickets, it would deceive the Indians. She was adjusting the powder horn and bullet pouch when Louis and Alexandre ran in with Laviolette at their heels. And so Madeleine and her small force begin their harrowing vigil--hoping against all hope that help will come in time. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

While awaiting trial for murder and for withholding from the Spanish king the obligatory fifth of the gold found in the New World, Esteban de Sandoval, a seventeen-year-old cartographer, recalls his adventures with a band of conquistadors. In this award winning novel, O’Dell immerses the reader in the somber and ruthless world of 16th century Spain, New World America and the conquistadors.  272 pages, softcover. Grades 7 to 9.

The star of her school’s running team, Sadako is lively and athletic…until the dizzy spells start. Then she must face the hardest race of her life—the race against time. Based on a true story, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes celebrates the courage that makes one young woman a heroine in Japan.  80 pages. Paperback. Ags 8-12.

It is 1943 in Denmark, when ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen's family takes in her best friend Ellen, and poses her as a member of the family. Ellen is Jewish and Jewish people all over the country, and Europe, are being taken by the Nazis and put into Jewish ghettos and concentration camp. This Newbery Medal winner chronicles the life of this family, the hardships they must face and the heroic decisions that they are forced to make.

The Egypt Game (Reprint), by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, tells the story of two girls, Melanie and April, that didn't seem to have much in common when they met, that is until they learn that they both have a love for all things related to Ancient Egypt. The girls determine that a deserted storage yard is the perfect location for the Egypt Game. Before you know it there are six Egyptians, and they meet to wear costumes, hold ceremonies, and work on their secret code. What seems to be a game, suddenly is questioned as strange things start happening. Has the Egypt Game gone too far? Paperback, 215 pages. Ages 9 to 12 years old

This re-telling of Homer's Iliad retains all the splendor of Ancient Troy. Legendary Helen, courageous Achilles, Ajax, Odysseus and Hector are all present in their original grandeur as they fight for Helen's--and Greece's--honor. 149 pages, softcover with pronunciation guide.

Gladiator medic, bold traveler, and personal physician to emperors, Galen lived an adventurous life in 2nd-century Rome---and became the greatest doctor in history! Weaving compelling biography with a fascinating account of ancient medicine and culture, Bendick introduces your kids to the surgeon and scientist who would become the standard medical authority for 1,300 years. Ages 10 and up. 131 pages, softcover from Bethlehem Books.

Based on the true story of Amos Fortune of Jaffrey, New Hampshire, Amos Fortune was born At-mun, son of an African king. In 1725, when he was 15 years old, he was captured by slave traders, brought to America, and sold at auction. For 45 years, Amos worked as a slave under two masters to buy his own freedom. Free at age 60, and having bought three wives (the first two died less than a year later), Amos eventually moved to Jaffrey, where he started his own tannery, became a full member of the local church, and died a free and prosperous man at the age of 91.

Amos Fortune, Free Man was the 1951 Newbery Medal winner. 192 pages, softcover.

For Ann Hamilton, life out west was anything but adventurous. In fact, she had never been lonelier. She longed for the ease and comfort of the days with friends back in Gettysburg-until a stranger rode into Hamilton Hill and changed her life forever.

Based on historical events, this powerful multi-award winning novel tells the story of The Long Walk of 1863 through 1865, when the Navajo were forced to leave their ancestral homeland. With a simple but dramatic narrative, young Bright Morning tells the story of her capture by Spaniard slavers while grazing her flock of sheep, her courageous escape with her friends and her future husband Tall Boy, and her people’s forced march to a reservation in New Mexico. This gripping tale of survival, strength, and courage portrays the injustices perpetrated by the government during the US’s westward expansion. 144 pages, softcover. Ages 7 and up.

The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw is a historical fiction novel about an Egyptian boy named Ranofer who tries to reveal an evil crime and reshape his life. Ranofer lives his life in fear of his half-brother Gebu, who beats him and forces him to work as a porter, the lowest rank in the goldsmith, even though Ranofer has skill in goldsmithing that he learned from his father. When Ranofer finds a rare golden goblet in Gebu's room, he is determined to right Gebu's wrongs and change his own life for the better. A 1962 Newbery Honor Book. Recommended for ages 8 years and older.

Galileo changed the way that we see our world by asking question after question. This easy-to-read biography looks at Galileo's life, including his testing of data and discovery of new theories. 95 indexed pages, softcover with illustrations.

Although he is credited with changing history through his invention of printing, Johann Gutenberg remains mysterious. In Fine Print, author Joann Johansen Burch pieces together Gutenberg's amazing story. When Johann was a child in the early 1400s, books were rare and sometimes very expensive. Each book had to be copied by hand, letter by letter. Gutenberg loved to read, and he often grew impatient waiting for the time-consuming bookmaking process to be completed. Young Gutenberg dreamed of finding a better way to make books. From his childhood in strife-torn Mainz through the many years of setbacks and bankruptcies, Gutenberg persevered in his belief that books could be made quickly and inexpensively. This is the story of the man who invented movable type and the printing press and gave the world the gift of books. Ages 3-8. 64 pages, paperback.

Hamid rubbed the light from his eyes and looked again. He was not dreaming. It was his stepfather! The man watched Kinza as a snake might watch a baby rabbit at play, waiting for the moment to strike. And for one breathless moment Hamid was sure that he would reach out and snatch her away.Hamid does not want his little blind sister, Kinza, to be sold to a beggar, by their stepfather, so he decides to rescue her. Together they escape from their mountain village to a town where there may be a new home for Kinza. But this is only the start of their adventures. Will Kinza be safe? What will happen to Hamid who dares not go back home?Set in North Africa, readers will be delighted by yet another of Patricia St. John's exciting, freshly edited, novels. Recommended for ages 10 to 12.

When the powerful Lord Takeda's soldiers sweep across the country side, killing and plundering, they spare the boy Taro's life and take him along with them. Taro becomes a servant in the household of the noble Lord Akiyama, where he meets Togan, a cook, who teaches Taro and makes his new life bearable. But when Togan is murdered, Taro's life takes a new direction. He will become a samurai, and redeem the family legacy that has been stolen from him. Recommended for ages 10 to 14, grades 5 to 9.

Weaving together traditional folkloric stories with Minli's quest to bring her family fortune, this captivating tale will engage readers of all ages and backgrounds. When Minli decides to use one of her two gold coins to buy a goldfish, her mother is not happy--they barely have enough rice to feed themselves, and even the few grains required by the fish are a sacrifice. Minli decides to let the fish go, but before the fish leaves, he tells her how to find the Old Man of the Moon who figures into so many of the stories she hears from her father. She leaves to begin her quest, meeting many new friends and hearing many new stories along the way, as she tries to learn how to change her family's fortune. Full-color illustrations included. 278 pages, hardcover with dust jacket.

Adolf Hitler's ominous statements seem only a distant threat to 11-year-old Rudi Kaplan. But when the Nazi forces invade Poland and bomb his home city of Warsaw, Rudi finds out that he is Hitler's enemy not only because he is a Pole but also because he's a Jew--and a Christian.

The next few years change Rudi's life forever. With only his imprisoned father's promise that they will be reunited after the war, Rudi must learn how to survive in hiding, how to be truly brave, and how to overcome the hatred of his enemies. He must learn to die to himself and to trust the God who is mightier than any army. Recommended for ages 9 to 12.

Tree-ear is an orphan boy in a 12th-century Korean village renowned for its ceramics. When he accidentally breaks a delicate piece of pottery, he volunteers to work to pay for the damage. Putting aside his own dreams, Tree-ear resolves to serve the master potter by embarking on a difficult and dangerous journey, little knowing that it will change his life forever. 152 pages. Paperback. Ags 8-12.

The Big Wave is the powerful novel by Nobel Prize-winning author Pearl S. Buck, about two friends who must face the pain of losing everything—and how to face their grief with courage. 

Kino lives on a farm on the side of a mountain in Japan. His friend, Jiya, lives in a fishing village below. Everyone, including Kino and Jiya, has heard of the big wave. No one suspects it will wash over them, until the rushing water sweeps away the whole village—including Jiya's family.

As Jiya struggles to overcome his sorrow, with the help of Kino and his father, he comes to understand that it is only in the presence of danger that one learns to be brave, and that even in the face of terrible tragedy, life and love are stronger than death. 64 pages. Paperback. Ages 8-12.

  • Nathaniel Bowditch grew up in a seafaring world, when tall-masted ships from foreign ports crowded the wharves. Too small to be a mariner, he studied the ocean's ways until he could chart a course in any weather, then penned The American Practical Navigator, stunning the sailing community with his nautical expertise. Ages 10 and up. 256 pages, softcover from Houghton Mifflin.

Unavailable for several years, Virginia Hamilton’s award-winning companion to The People Could Fly (not included, sold-separately), traces the history of slavery in America in the voices and stories of those who lived it. Leo and Diane Dillon’s brilliant black-and-white illustrations echo the stories’ subtlety and power, making this book as stunning to look at as it is to read. 160 pages. Paperback. Ags 8-12.

Barbara Willard has beautifully combined history and the Christian faith in this book. With a true storyteller's instinct, she has interwoven historical facts with an absorbing fictitious tale in such a way that eager readers will take delight in, and learn from, the great adventure of St. Augustine's mission to the land of the Angles (later England). The story centers on young Wolf who has journeyed many difficult miles from Rome to the land of his birth. He witnesses the historic meeting between the Saxon King of Kent and the man who would be known as St. Augustine of Canterbury. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

Onesimus is a slave and longs for freedom and for the love of Eirene, a wealthy merchant's daughter. Onesimus' master is Philemon, a follower of Christ, but Onesimus wants nothing to do with religion. Take a journey back to biblical times and learn, along with Onesimus, that Christ is the only way to freedom.

Uriah the Hittite has found refuge from the Greeks in the Canaanite city of Tyre. Now the decision by Jotham, the Hebrew, to save a child from being sacrificed to Moloch forces Uriah to choose life over reverence of Tyre's fearsome god. The three escape to the hill country of Judea, where Deborah and Barak are mustering the Hebrews to fight the Canaanites. This meticulously researched novel is set in the time of the Judges, and incorporates Biblical facts with a gripping story, set against the wide background of ancient civilizations.

Beowulf is one of the world's oldest classics, and is the oldest epic in the English language. Retold in more modern prose, this translation brings the memorable adventures of the hero to life. FRom his rescuing of Hrothgar the Dane to his victory over Grendel and his saving the Geats from the horror of the dragon. 64 pages, softcover.

This is the unforgettable story of young Jethro Creighton who comes of age during the turbulent years of the Civil War. Recommended for ages 8 to 12. A 1965 Newbery Honor book.

This classic tale stands as one of the most notable achievements in American writing. The tale of a Judah Ben-Hur's conversion to Christianity, his life runs parallel and even intersets with Christ's in many spots. Illustrating both the spiritual promises of the kingdom to come, as well as the human want for revenge, this heroic novel has captivated thousands. Unabridged. 382 pages, softcover.

It was the time of the French Revolution...a time of great change and great danger. It was a time when injustice was met by a lust for vengeance, and rarely was a distinction made between the innocent and the guilty. Against this tumultuous historical backdrop, Dickens' great story of unsurpassed adventure and courage unfolds...

Harper Lee's Pulitzer prize-winning masterwork of honor and injustice in the deep south-and the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatred. One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than forty million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father-a crusading local lawyer-risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.

Alexandra Bergson, a young Swedish immigrant girl who inherits her father's farm and must transform it from raw prairie into a prosperous enterprise, is the first of Cather's great heroines-all of them women of strong will and an even stronger desire to overcome adversity and succeed. But the wild land itself is an equally important character in Cather's books, and her descriptions of it are so evocative, lush, and moving that they provoked writer Rebecca West to say of her: "The most sensuous of writers, Willa Cather builds her imagined world almost as solidly as our five senses build the universe around us."

These deceptively simple lines from the title poem of this collection suggest Robert Frost at his most representative: the language is simple, clear and colloquial, yet dense with meaning and wider significance. Drawing upon everyday incidents, common situations and rural imagery, Frost fashioned poetry of great lyrical beauty and potent symbolism.

After witnessing his father's crucifixion by Roman soldiers, Daniel bar Jamin is fired by a single passion: to avenge his father's death by driving the Roman legions form the land of Israel. Consumed by hatred, Daniel joins the brutal raids of an outlaw band living in the hills outside his village. Though his grandmother's death slows his plans by forcing him to move home to care for his sister, he continues his dangerous life by leading a group of boy guerrillas in spying and plotting, impatiently waiting to take revenge.

In nearby Capernaum, a rabbi is teaching a different lesson. Time and again Daniel is drawn to the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, only to turn away, disappointed and confused by Jesus' lack of action in opposing the Romans. Devoid of tenderness and forgiveness, headstrong Daniel is also heedless of the loyalty of his friend Joel; the love of Joel's sister, Malthace; and the needs of his own disturbed sister, Leah, dragging them down his destructive path toward disaster.

Elisabeth George Speare won the 1962 Newbery Medal for this magnificent novel of Daniel's tormented journey from a blind, confining hatred to his acceptance and understanding of love. Booklist called it "a dramatic, deeply felt narrative whose characters and message will be long remembered." Recommended for ages 9 and up. The 1962 Newbery Medal winner.

An irresistible blend of romance, intrigue, and suspense, this timeless historical adventure recalls the Reign of Terror following the French Revolution, when ruthless mobs ruled the streets of Paris and hundreds of royals were condemned to face the guillotine each day. The only hope of many was a courageous leader who spirited aristocrats across the Channel to England and safety. Known by the name of the wildflower he leaves as a calling card, the Pimpernel becomes the darling of the people and is particularly admired by Marguerite Blakeney, who scorns her foppish husband as ardently as she esteems this gallant hero. Recommended for ages 12 and up.

When her grandfather dies, Katherine "Kit" Tyler is forced to leave a carefree life on Barbados to go to her aunt, the only family that she has left. Kit arrives in Connecticut Colony in April of 1687 and is dismayed by the bleak landscape. Her misgivings deepen as she is introduced to the Puritan ways of her new family, and she soon finds herself at odds with Aunt Rachel and Uncle Matthew--and the entire community. When she tries to escape the oppressive surroundings of her new home, Kit encounters the Widow Tupper, a Quaker who is believed to practice witchcraft. The friendship between Kit and Widow Tupper grows, but not without consequences. Kit is accused of being a witch simply because of her association with the widow, known to all as the Witch of Blackbird Pond. 256 pages, softcover. Grades 5-8.

Though their bodies lie cold and dormant, the grave cannot contain the influence these seven men have had on today's world. They continue to rule because they have altered the thinking of society. They generated philosophies that have been ardently grasped by masses of people but are erroneous and anti-scriptural. Today these ideas pervade our schools, businesses, homes, even the church. As we continue to unkowningly subscribe to their philosophies we keep the grave open for: Charles Darwin, Julius Wellhausen, John Dewey, Sigmund Freud, John Maynard Keynes, Soren Kierkegaard and Karl Marx.

History Spines and References

Purchase all four Story of the World Volumes and save! Captivate your young listeners as they travel the world from the Ancient Times until the Modern Times, learning to view history in the big picture. 4 volumes, including:

  • The Ancient Times, Revised
  • The Middle Ages, Revised
  • The Early Modern
  • The Modern Age.