There is a newer focus on teaching children history through stories. Check out these amazing historical fiction books for Beginner readers in 1st,2nd,3rd grades. The stories are short, interesting and sometimes humorous. The central character is usually a child, narrating the story from the children’s point of view. Read about the Suffrage Movement culminating in women’s right to vote, spy stories from WWII, life in ancient Egypt. The simple language makes these suitable reads for 6-8 year-olds.
Find more historical fiction books here for higher elementary kids.
Historical Fiction Books for 1st-3rd graders (6-8 Years)
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Check out the below 1st – 3rd grade historical fiction books recommended by parents, teachers and loved by kids. Choose one as per your child’s interest and enjoy the reading time together.
Elephant in the Garden is inspired by a true story about an elephant rescued from the Belfast Zoo during the WWII bombing. Based on Germany, during the war, it narrates how a family tries to save an orphan elephant, Marlene.
The whole city is bombed. And the family tries to flee along with thousands of others. This story tracks the journey of the family with the elephant in tow. There are many unexpected encounters along the way. A tale of survival, having faith, and kindness for others during difficult times, for early elementary kids in 1st, 2nd, 3rd grades.
If You Were a Kid During the American Revolution This fictional tale puts a child in the middle of the American Revolution. Samuel’s father and uncle are accused of being rebellious by a British soldier. To save them, Samuel and his cousin Molly make plans to help the family escape. Would the cousins’ plan to save their father succeed?
Your child is sure to be thrilled reading about the daring adventure of Samuel and Molly. If your child enjoys this book, you can check out other historical fiction books from the If You Were a Kid series. All the books are suitable for beginner readers reading.
How I Became a Spy: A Mystery of WWII London This novel is set in London with a 13 years old English boy -Bertie, an American girl- Eleanor, and a Jewish refugee boy -David. A young woman goes missing, leaving a coded notebook behind. Bertie, who never wanted to be a spy, sets out to solve the mystery along with the other two.
The book is suspenseful, fun, with added focus on codes and ciphers. Try to solve a few of them with your child.
Potato: A Tale from the Great Depression This one is a great story to teach the history of depression to the current generation. The earning member of a family loses his job during the depression. With all their possession gone, the entire family is forced to move to Idaho to harvest potatoes.
The illustrations are engaging, and the story is captivating. A simple storybook- that can be used as a early Elementary level read-aloud.
If You Were a Kid During the Civil War. Read about how the Civil War threatened to tear America through this fictional story. This story is narrated through the eyes of two friends who stood at the opposite spectrum of the warring groups. The book softly introduces the concept of slavery and race to kids. It is an easy read for beginner readers.
Mummies in the Morning. Follow Jack and Annie in this Magic Tree House book as they end up in Ancient Egypt. There they meet the Mummy of a dead queen who needs their help. How would Jack and Amy be able to help the queen? Would they be able to escape in time? Find out in this beginner reader chapter book.
Little Hornet is a well-researched historical novel based on actual people and events. It is a great book to introduce the American Revolution to kids.
Thirteen-year-old William is saddened by the violence and decides never to pick up arms against another human. But, now his family is at war with the British. Would William break his vow to save his family? Read the journey of a brave boy fighting for his family, home, freedom.
I Survived the Hindenburg Disaster, 1937 features the survival story of an 11-year-old boy in the middle of a historic disaster in May of 1937. A German ship caught fire while attempting to land in New Jersey, killing 35 people on board. Follow along with the intriguing survival tale.
If your third grader enjoys this book, check out the other books from the I Survived series. All the stories are set on historical events, narrating the survival of a child, usually 11-year-old.
Flight for Freedom is another gem from the author, Kristen Fulton, known for narrating historical stories, usually from a child’s point of view. It narrates a family’s escape during the cold war in 1979. Peter and his family live in eastern Germany. They want to escape to freedom to the other side of the Berlin wall using a hot air balloon.
Without any prior knowledge of creating one, this family pursues and preserves. After many unsuccessful attempts, they succeed in fleeing. The book includes a detailed map of the family’s escape route, and diagrams of their hot air balloon.
10. Camilla Can Vote
Camilla Can Vote is a children’s book- penned by Senator Marsha Blackburn, the first woman selected as a US senator from her state. The story is based on the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1910 when women achieved the right to vote.
A child, Camilla, learned about this movement during her class trip to the history museum. The book explains the history of the women’s Suffrage Movement in a fun and exciting way. This beautifully illustrated book is a fun read for 1st, 2nd, 3rd graders.
Being Teddy Roosevelt narrates the story of how a boy becomes inspired by reading about one of America’s historical figures, Teddy Roosevelt.
Riley wants a saxophone to make instrumental music. But his mother can not afford one. Reading about President Teddy Roosevelt gives Riley an idea about the solution. Riley learns to become self-reliant and industrious. An easy chapter book for 6-8 year-olds.
By the Great Horn Spoon! Twelve-year-old Jack’s aunt is in lots of debt. To help her raise money, Jack goes to California accompanied by his devoted family butler, Praiseworthy. Will Jack succeed in his pursuit?
This book is an excellent study of the California Gold Rush for the kids. It has many lessons of history, geography, steamboats – mixed. This humorous book narrates the effect Goldrush had on individuals and families quite well.
Napoleon vs. the Bunnies is a humorous book narrating how Napoleon, one of history’s most celebrated general, was defeated by domesticated Bunnies. The story is based on a real event known as the ill-fated rabbit hunt.
Napoleon’s staff had arranged a bunch of rabbits for a celebratory hunt. Unfortunately, they were domesticated rabbits. So, instead of running away, they ran down straight to Napoleon and others of the hunting party, much to Napoleon’s embarrassment. A funny historical fiction read-aloud for beginner readers.
The Prison-Ship Adventure of James Forten James Forten is a free African American sailor on an American ship. In the year 1781, during the Revolutionary War, his ship is captured by the British. And he becomes a prisoner.
Follow the heroic journey of James as he decides between choosing his country and freedom. It is an easy read for early elementary grade, transporting the reader on the journey of the brave Philadelphians.
Sybil Ludington’s Midnight Ride Sixteen-year-old Sybil is on a mission. She has to reach the American soldiers before the British, to inform them that the British are coming.
Follow along with Sybil in her midnight ride of forty miles through a storm on horseback. With nothing but a large stick to defend herself and her horse- she sets out on her heroic journey. This book, based on a true story, is an engaging read.
Hot on the Trail in Ancient Egypt How would it feel to be transported to ancient Egypt? Find out along with twins Josh and Emma. Their only way to escape is by reading the entire guidebook to find a way back home.
Between Josh taken away to help build the pyramid and their encounters with the king’s guards, can they come out safely? This historical fiction book provides a good lesson on ancient Egypt’s culture, daily life, politics, women’s role, and many more. The illustrations are engaging. It is a fun-filled book for kids.
All the Way to America Read the touching story of how an Italian immigrant landed in Ellis Island with just a small shovel and a piece of good advice. The struggle for survival is real while trying to fit into a new place.
The story narrates about the 5 generation family, who never forgot their root through all these times. A book – that will start a discussion on family roots amongst young kids.
18. The Wall
The Wall. If you are looking for a good Memorial-day book for your child, you can check this out. The story starts when a young boy and his father visit the Vietnamese Veterans Memorial to find the name of the boy’s grandfather. They encounter different people there – some sensitive to the loss, others oblivious.
They also meet a war veteran who had lost his legs in the war. As the small boy leaves the place, he becomes much wiser and proud of his grandfather. A good read-aloud for 1st to 3rd grader classroom.
19. Dust for Dinner
Dust for Dinner. This tale is from a period when drought and dry wind forced many American families to leave the agricultural regions of the Midwest. Follow the journey of two kids Jake and Maggy, who are forced to leave their happy farm once the dust storm ruined the land. The family auctions off the farm and undertake the long journey to California.
The book narrates how the family members help each other during this trying time. Written in simple language, this historical fiction book is for beginner readers.
Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story This tale is inspired by Felix Pedro, a prospector who struck gold in Alaska after many years of hard work. It started Alaska’s second gold rush in 1902.
Pedro takes his Pan on an adventure searching for gold, hiking through mountains, and sifting through dirt and gravel. However, success is hard to come by, and the Pan wonders. Written in a humorous tone, and with whimsical illustrations, this book is a fun read.
The Whispering Cloth: A Refugee’s Story. Read the story of a small child Mai living in a refugee camp in Thailand. Mai lives in the camp with her grandmother. The other refugee women make brightly colored story cloths, which they then sell to traders. Mai also wants to make them. But to find a story she needs to look back at her tragic past.
The book talks about the famous Hmong sewers in the refugee camp. A heartwarming tale with beautifully illustrations. This one is a simple read, and the language is easy enough for 1st, 2nd, 3rd graders.
What is historical fiction for elementary students?
Historical fiction in children’s literature indicates the genre of fictional stories set in the backdrop of a significant historical event. The stories covey the events of the said history through fictional characters and imaginary plotlines.