Click on a grade below to see a list of suggested historical fiction books for that level.
New Historical Fiction
Reading Level: Grades 5 - 8
Truth can be much stranger than fiction and fiction based on truth can make a great story. Inspired by the life of Ivan Mishukov, Ivan Andreovich is a five-year-old boy who was orphaned in post-Soviet Russia, left on the streets to fend for himself, and adopted by a pack of wild dogs.
Life for street children is a battle to survive. Hunger, cold, roving gangs of both adults and older children make survival tenuous. Ivan finds his place with a family of dogs. Ivan and the dogs share what food they have and provide warmth and protection for each other. But more than that, the dogs love Ivan as he loves them. Ivan becomes more and more like his dog family. While humans can be uncaring or cruel, it is the dogs who show the most "humanity."
Ultimately, Ivan Andreovich , like the real Ivan, is rescued.
Reading Level: Ages 12 and up
Combining murder mystery, historical fiction, and a coming-of-age story, this chilling book is base on real life events in the author's past. The time is 1956 and Nora anticipates spending a the summer before her senior year with her group of friends. But two of her friends are shot to death on their way to the last day of school. Everyone but Nora is sure that the murderer is a jealous ex-boyfriend. Told from a number of perspectives, the story examines the effect this horrible event had on so many lives.
Another story of a shooting is
Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser
Third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson lived at the plantation Monticello and kept slaves to work in his fields, farm and home. One of his slaves was a woman named Sally Hemings, mother to four of Jefferson's children - Beverly, Harriet, Maddy, and Eston. Though slaves, the children and their mother were given special treatment by Jefferson because of his discreet relationship to them - but nevertheless, slaves they remained.
Master Jefferson promises freedom to all four of his slave children upon their twenty-first birthdays, but Beverly, the eldest, cannot imagine leaving his mother, sister, brothers - but especially his father. Light-skinned and longing for a father figure, Beverly struggles with the secrecy of Jefferson's nonpublic identity as his father, especially when Jefferson presents him and his brothers with a kit violin and lessons. He and his siblings imagine a life where his mother, siblings and father could live openly together as a real family; a life that did not involve waiting on Master Jefferson's real children, especially the snippy Miss Martha.
Based on true events at Monticello during the early 1800s, Jefferson's Sons is a slave tale of a different order, exploring slavery and racial issues from the fresh perspective of Jefferson's slave children. The novel is a welcome look into one aspect of post-revolutionary slave life in Virginia that explores the bonds of family and friendship.
Reading Level: Grades 7 and up
When Piotr's parents are killed he is is sent to an orphanage in Warsaw. But Peter is Volksdeutscher, of German blood, and with his blonde good looks he is the image of a Hitler Youth. Newly christened Peter, he is grateful to escape the misery of the orphanage and to be accepted into the home of a prominent Nazi family. The friendly, jovial father is involved with research into racial purity. While Peter is never a strong supporter of Nazi doctrine, he finds that he is expected to participate in Nazi Youth organizations. As time passes he questions doctrine and rebels in small ways. Finally, though terrified, he helps the resistance.
While many books have been written about The Holocaust and this period of history, this is one of the few that explains the appeal of National Socialism. The author has obviously done extensive research into the experiments dealing with racial purity. This is a compelling thought-provoking novel.