Want to get your kids excited about history? We’ve got you (and the last few thousands of years) covered with this list of the best history books for little ones, grade-schoolers and young adults. Whether your kiddo is into bios and true stories, or general world history, these awesome reads—fiction and nonfiction—will keep them engaged. From early European history to the civil rights movement, and from Ancient Egypt to the Great Depression, this list covers it all.
These history books take a fresh, fun approach to historical topics and educate kids about different races, cultures and events around the world. And almost all of them are available on Epic. Check ’em out!
1. Separate is Never Equal
This award-winning picture book tells the story of how, almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, young Sylvia Mendez helped end school segregation in California. Unable to attend a “whites only” school because of her Hispanic heritage, despite being born in the U.S. and speaking fluent English, Sylvia and her parents take action. Although it’s technically for 6-9 year-olds, this true story is likely to inspire your kids whether they’re in preschool, high school or somewhere in between.
2. The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence
By Judith St. George
Think the Declaration of Independence is just a boring old document? Think again! This audiobook will help your kids understand its value and its history. It highlights different time periods as it explores the history of the declaration, beginning in the 1770s all the way through the present day. This fun children’s book also touches on many historical events that the Declaration of Independence survived including the Revolutionary War, the War or 1812 and more.
3. Weird But True! Know-It-All: U.S. Presidents
By Brianna Dumont
This National Geographic series is filled with books that could qualify for this list of the best history books for kids, but let’s start with our first president. Many have heard that George Washington wore a pair of wooden teeth, but this must-read book dishes zany, little-known facts about our other U.S. Presidents, too. Abraham Lincoln had a talent for wrestling. Ulysses S. Grant received two different speeding tickets for riding his horse too fast. Most of our U.S. Presidents were not only interesting leaders, but had unique personal quirks! This book is ideal for 8-12 year-olds and middle school students with its fun, memorable facts about former Presidents—like how William McKinley whistled duets with his pet parrot (sounds like fun!).
4. 12 Great Moments that Changed Radio History
By Angie Smibert
What’s so interesting about the radio? Plenty! This children’s book shows how the radio gave families closeup looks at important events throughout the 20th century. While listening on their radios, people felt like they had a front row seat to experience pivotal events like the Hindenburg Disaster, World War II and even the sinking of the Titanic. Although these are all yesterday’s news, this book will get your reader thinking about how much technology has advanced over the last century. It’s a perfect gateway into discussing how the media impacts our views on current events and the world today.
5. Let Freedom Sing
By Vanessa Newton
Using music to discuss the civil rights movement with little ones makes “Let Freedom Sing” is one of our top picks on our list of best history books for kids. Its stories highlight historical figures from the African American community, including Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges and Martin Luther King Jr. Their tales of influence are interwoven with a variety of songs and rousing hymns like “This Little Light of Mine.” The book also includes beautiful illustrations that are almost as inspiring as the amazing stories within its pages.
6. Great Americans: George Washington
By: Flowerpot Press
Here’s another great children’s book about our first President of the United States, George Washington. This is a first-rate pick for kids with it’s simple, yet comprehensive history of Washington’s eventful life as well as early American history. The Read-To-Me format makes his life and history engaging for young learners.
7. G is for Gladiator: An Ancient Rome Alphabet
By: Debbie Shoulders and Michael Shoulders
Age Range: 8+
Although it is an alphabet book, this historical picture book gives readers a look into ancient Rome that will interest older grade school students. It addresses the political, social and civil customs of the great ancient civilization. Each letter introduces a new topic and readers can choose to either stick with a simplified summary of each point or delve into a more comprehensive description.
Don’t let the pictures and letters fool you; there is enough information to enlighten and engage even your curious high school student! This book is the perfect choice for a child wanting to learn a little … or a lot about ancient Rome.
8. Heroes of the Revolution
By: David A. Adler
Stories of the American Revolutionary War are filled with men and women who performed heroic acts. This book tells the stories of several of these remarkable people and what they did to help form and build the United States of America. Beautiful paintings of the heralded heroes add to the stories and make “Heroes of the Revolution” an interesting, informative and inspiring read for kids and parents alike.
By: Lori Dittmer
What would your day look like if you were a kid in ancient Egypt? Written from the perspective of a child, this cultural overview helps young readers take a step into history. It discusses what people in ancient Egypt believed, did and saw. Clothing styles, pyramids, mummies and more are all laid out for little ones to learn about and explore in this fascinating children’s book.
10. Goldie Takes a Stand: Golda Meir’s First Crusade
By: Barbara Krasner
Golda Meir grew up to be the Prime Minister of Israel, but at the age of 9 she was a Russian-Jewish immigrant in the United States. This is the story of Goldie as a young girl who was too poor to buy textbooks. She rallied a group of best friends and together, the girls raised money to buy the books they needed. This story of leadership, sacrifice, creativity and hard work gives insight into family life during the Great Depression.
11. Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot
By: Margot Theis Raven
Post-World War II Berlin was often dreary, but a little girl named Mercedes was able to find joy as candy was dropped from the sky. This tender children’s book tells the true story of an American pilot who delivered sweets to children during the Berlin Airlift and how this action came to affect a young girl in Germany. Your kids will learn a lot about this difficult piece of history through this heart-warming and hopeful story.
12. The Last Brother: A Civil War Tale
By: Trinka Hakes Noble
Gettysburg turned the tide of the American Civil War. If your child is a fan of American history, they’ll love learning about this famed battle from the perspective of an eleven-year-old bugle boy named Gabe. Gabe marches with the Union Army and at Gettysburg, he wrestles with his desires to both fulfill his duty and protect the people he loves. This longer picture book offers a unique and beautifully illustrated glimpse into this tumultuous period.
13. Buffalo Bird Girl
By S.D. Nelson
This illustrated biography recounts the childhood story of Buffalo Bird Woman, a Hidatsa Indian born in the 1830s. Kids can relate to the title character as this historical children’s book illustrates a daily life full of chores and friends. Young readers will also get a glimpse into some of the dangers and adventures that the native americans in her area faced. Your kid will become engulfed by this delightful true story while expanding their knowledge of Native American history and culture.
14. What Is a Monarchy?
By: Margaret R. Mead
“What is a Monarchy” delves into the history of the British crown and expands to explore monarchies throughout the world and throughout time. It explains the rules of monarchy as well as examines its strengths and limitations as a form of government. This book for older grade-school and middle-school students is not only informative, but a great introduction to world history and government.
15. A Picture Book of Anne Frank
By: David A. Adler
This children’s book introduces older kids to the story of Anne Frank. It’s based on actual entries from Anne’s personal diary, in which she describes what family life was like for her living in hiding for years from the Nazis—in a cramped Amsterdam attic. This history is a valuable, informative read for 10-11 year-olds. And since it’s also available as a Read-To-Me book, more mature younger children can also follow along as they listen to this fictional version of Anne’s story.
16. Bach to the Rescue!!! How a Rich Dude Who Couldn’t Sleep Inspired the Greatest Music Ever
By Tom Angleberger
Want to give your kid a fun intro to music history? This hilarious book begins with a “Rich Dude” with insomnia and ends in the composition of Bach’s most famous lullabies. This zany, nontraditional yet true story is sure to interest your little one and it’s the perfect segway into exploring some of the classical era’s most beautiful music!
17. Sacagawea: Girl of the Shining Mountains
By: Connie Roop, Peter Roop
Ages: 9-12 year-olds
Encourage your grade schooler to look at westward development and expansion through the eyes of this Native American explorer. Sacagawea, the Shoshoni woman who helped guide Lewis and Clark on their expedition, tells her life story. This famed tale is filled with adventure and colorful illustrations.
That’s our list of best history books for kids. We hope your kiddo enjoys!