Historical Fiction Books for Teens

Prehistory and Ancient Civilizations Europe
Africa and the Middle East North America
Asia and the Pacific World War II and the Holocaust
Central America and Caribbean  

Prehistory and Ancient Civilizations

Geras, Adèle. Troy. 2000.
Told from the point of view of the women of Troy, portrays the last weeks of the Trojan War, when women are sick of tending the wounded, men are tired of fighting, and bored gods and goddesses find ways to stir things up.
Auel, Jean. The Clan of the Cave Bear. 1980.
An orphaned Cro-Magnon child, adopted into a clan of Neanderthal hunter-gatherers, gradually becomes aware that her survival is linked to that of humankind.
Harrison, Sue. Mother Earth, Father Sky. 1990.
The saga of an Aleutian woman of some 9,000 years ago and her search for safety and security.

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Africa and the Middle East

Friesner, Esther M. Sphinx's Princess. 2009.
Although she is a dutiful daughter, Nefertiti's dancing abilities, remarkable beauty, and intelligence garner attention near and far, so much so that her family is summoned to the Egyptian royal court, where Nefertiti becomes a pawn in the power play of her scheming aunt, Queen Tiye.
Grant, K. M. Blood Red Horse. 2004.
A special horse named Hosanna changes the lives of two English brothers and those around them as they fight with King Richard I against Saladin's armies during the Third Crusades.
Sayres, Meghan Nuttall. Anahita's Woven Riddle. 2006.
In Iran, more than 100 years ago, a young girl with three suitors gets permission from her father and a holy man to weave into her wedding rug a riddle to be solved by her future husband, which will ensure that he has wit to match hers.

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Asia and the Pacific

Mosher, Richard. Zazoo. 2001.
Amid old secrets revealed and rifts healed, a thirteen-year-old Vietnamese orphan raised in rural France by her aging "Grand-Pierre" learns about her grandfathers role in the Vietnamese war.
Sheth, Kashmira. Keeping Corner. 2007.
In India in the 1940's, thirteen-year-old Leela's happy, spoiled childhood ends when her husband since age nine, whom she barely knows, dies, leaving her a widow whose only hope of happiness could come from Mahatma Ghandi's social and political reforms.

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Central American and the Caribbean

Alvarez, Julia. In the Time of the Butterflies. 1994.
Set in the Dominican Republic, this novel was inspired by the true story of the three Mirabal sisters who, in 1960, were murdered for their part in an underground plot to overthrow the government.
Temple, Frances. Taste of Salt: A Story of Modern Haiti. 1992.
In the hospital after being beaten by Macoutes, seventeen-year-old Djo tells his story of working with social reformer Father Aristide to fight the repression in Haiti.

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Europe

Alexander, Robert. The Kitchen Boy. 2003.
Drawing from decades of work, travel, and research in Russia, Robert Alexander re-creates the tragic, perennially fascinating story of the final days of Russian monarchs Nicholas and Alexandra as seen through the eyes of the Romanov’s young kitchen boy, Leonka.
Barnhouse, Rebecca. The Book of the Maidservant. 2009.
In 1413, a young maidservant accompanies her deeply religious mistress, Dame Margery Kempe, on a pilgrimage to Rome. Includes author's note on Kempe, writer of "The Book of Margery Kempe," considered by some to be the first autobiography in the English language.
Bradford, Chris. Young Samurai: The Way of the Warrior. 2009.
Orphaned by a ninja pirate attack off the coast of Japan in 1611, twelve-year-old English lad Jack Fletcher is determined to prove himself, despite the bullying of fellow students, when the legendary sword master who rescued him begins training him as a samurai warrior.
Brooks, Geraldine. Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague. 2001.
The "year of wonders" refers to 1666, the year in which an outbreak of bubonic plague struck England. The novel is a tale of devastation, grief, and madness as well as the attempts, both medicinal and spiritual, by the townspeople to combat the disease.
Cadnum, Michael. The Book of the Lion. 2000.
In twelfth-century England, after his master, a maker of coins for the king, is brutally punished for alleged cheating, 17-year-old Edmund travels to the Holy Land as a squire to a knight crusader on his way to join the forces of Richard the Lionheart.
Cushman, Karen. The Midwife's Apprentice. 1995.
In medieval England, a nameless homeless girl is taken in by a sharp-tempered midwife.
Hoffman, Alice. Incantation. 2006.
During the Spanish Inquisition, sixteen-year-old Estrella, brought up a Catholic, discovers her family's true Jewish identity, and when their secret is betrayed by Estrella's best friend, the consequences are tragic.
Hooper, Mary. Newes From the Dead . 2008.
In 1650, while Robert, a young medical student, steels himself to assist with her dissection, twenty-two-year-old housemaid Anne Green recalls her life as she lies in her coffin, presumed dead after being hanged for murdering her child that was, in fact, stillborn.
Jinks, Catherine. Babylonne. 2008.
In the violent and predatory world of thirteenth-century Languedoc, Pagan's sixteen-year-old daughter disguises herself as a boy and runs away with a priest who claims to be a friend of her dead father and mother, not knowing whether or not she can trust him, or anyone.
Lee, Ying S. A Spy in the House. 2009.
Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan and thief Mary Quinn is offered a place at Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls where she is trained to be part of an all-female investigative unit called The Agency and, at age seventeen, she infiltrates a rich merchant's home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships..
Pullman, Phillip. The Ruby in the Smoke. 1985.
In nineteenth-century London, 16-year-old Sally becomes involved in a deadly search for a mysterious ruby.
Rees, Celia. The Fool's Girl. 2010.
Violetta and Feste have come to London to rescue a holy relic taken from a church in Illyria by the evil Malvolio, and once there, they tell the story of their adventures to playwright William Shakespeare, who turns it into a play.
Reeve, Philip. Here Lies Arthur. 2007.
When her village is attacked and burned, Gwyna seeks protection from the bard Myrddin, who uses Gwyna in his plan to transform young Arthur into the heroic King Arthur.

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North America 

Native Americans

Carter, Forrest. The Education of Little Tree. 1976.
A boy is raised and educated by his Cherokee grandparents in the rural South in the first part of this century.
Edwardson, Debby Dhal. My Name is Not Easy. 2011.
Alaskans Luke, Chickie, Sonny, Donna, and Amiq relate their experiences in the early 1960s when they are forced to attend a Catholic boarding school where, despite different tribal affiliations, they come to find a sort of family and home.

Colonial and Revolutionary Days

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Fever, 1793. 2000.
In 1793 Philadelphia, sixteen-year-old Matilda Cook learns about perseverance and self-reliance when she is separated from her mother and forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic.
Anderson, M.T. The Pox Party. 2006.
Various diaries, letters, and other manuscripts chronicle the experiences of Octavian, a young African American, from birth to age sixteen, as he is brought up as part of a science experiment in the years leading up to and during the Revolutionary War.
Collier, James Lincoln. My Brother Sam is Dead. 1974.
Tragedy strikes the Meeker family when one son joins the rebel forces while the rest of the family tries to stay neutral in a Tory town.
Rees, Celia. Witch Child. 2000.
Fourteen-year-old Mary Newbury keeps a journal of her voyage from England to the New World and her experiences living as a witch in a community of Puritans near Salem, Massachusetts.
Rinaldi, Ann. A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials. 1992.
The daughter of a wealthy Salem merchant recalls the malice, fear and accusations of witchcraft that tore her village apart in 1692.

Nineteenth Century

Avi. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. 1990.
As the only passenger on a transatlantic voyage in 1832, Charlotte learns that the captain is murderous and the crew rebellious.
Butler, Octavia. Kindred. 1979.
A young black woman is abruptly transported through time to save the life of the reckless young son of a plantation owner.
Draper, Sharon M. Copper Sun. 2006.
Two fifteen-year-old girls--one a slave and the other an indentured servant--escape their Carolina plantation and try to make their way to Fort Moses, Florida, a Spanish colony that gives sanctuary to slaves.
Fleishman, Paul. Bull Run. 1995.
The glory, the horror, the thrill, and the disillusionment of the first battle of the Civil War is described in the voices of Northerners, Southerners, generals, couriers, dreaming boys, and worried sisters.
Forman, James D. Becca's Story. 1992.
A Civil War romance concerning a Michigan girl and the two soldiers who are rivals for her hand.
Godbersen, Anna. The Luxe. 2007.
In Manhattan in 1899, five teens of different social classes lead dangerously scandalous lives, despite the strict rules of society and the best-laid plans of parents and others.
Lester, Julius. Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue. 2005.
Emma has taken care of the Butler children since Sarah and Frances's mother, Fanny, left. Emma wants to raise the girls to have good hearts, as a rift over slavery has ripped the Butler household apart. Now, to pay off debts, Pierce Butler wants to cash in his slave "assets", possibly including Emma.
Myers, Walter Dean. Riot. 2009.
In 1863, fifteen-year-old Claire, the daughter of an Irish mother and a black father, faces ugly truths and great danger when Irish immigrants, enraged by the Civil War and a federal draft, lash out against blacks and wealthy "swells" of New York City.
Napoli, Donna Jo. Alligator Bayou. 2009.
Fourteen-year-old Calogero Scalise and his Sicilian uncles and cousin live in small-town Louisiana in 1898, when Jim Crow laws rule and anti-immigration sentiment is strong, so despite his attempts to be polite and to follow American customs, disaster dogs his family at every turn.
Patterson, Katherine. Lyddie. 1991.
An impoverished Vermont farm girl is determined to gain her independence by becoming a factory worker in Lowell, Massachusetts, in the 1840s.
Paulsen, Gary. Nightjohn. 1993.
A man allows himself to be captured as a slave so he can teach the enslaved children to read.
Paulsen, Gary. Sarny: A Life Remembered. 1997.
At the end of the Civil War, Sarny heads for New Orleans, leaving slavery behind.
Wells, Rosemary. Red Moon at Sharpsburg. 2007.
As the Civil War breaks out, India, a young Southern girl, summons her sharp intelligence and the courage she didn't know she had to survive the war that threatens to destroy her family, her Virginia home, and the only life she has ever known.
Wisler, G. Clifton. Red Cap. 1991.
A young Yankee drummer boy displays great courage when he is captured and sent to Andersonville Prison.

Immigration

Levitin, Sonia. Silver Days. 1989.
Escaping from Hitler's Germany, a prosperous Jewish family lives in a New York City tenement until Papa decides to move the family to California.

Twentieth Century

Greene, Bette. Summer of My German Soldier. 1973.
A young girl in Arkansas shelters an escaped World War II prisoner.
Hesse, Karen. Out of the Dust. 1997.
In a series of poems, fifteen-year-old Billie Jo relates the hardships of living on her family's wheat farm in Oklahoma during the dust bowl years of the Depression. A Newberry Award Winner.
Larkin, Jillian. Vixen. 2010.
In 1923 Chicago, seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody rebels against her upcoming society wedding by visiting a speakeasy, while her Pennsylvania cousin, Clara, hides similar tastes and her best friend, Lorraine, makes plans of her own.
Larson, Kirby. Hattie Big Sky. 2006.
After inheriting her uncle's homesteading claim in Montana, sixteen-year-old orphan Hattie Brooks travels from Iowa in 1917 to make a home for herself and encounters some unexpected problems related to the war being fought in Europe.
Magoon, Kekla. The Rock and the River. 2009.
In 1968 Chicago, fourteen-year-old Sam Childs is caught in a conflict between his father's nonviolent approach to seeking civil rights for African Americans and his older brother, who has joined the Black Panther Party.
Myers, Walter Dean. Fallen Angels. 1988.
Richie should never have even been in the army, but he ends up in the middle of the Vietnam War.
Rostkowski, Margaret. After the Dancing Days. 1986.
A forbidden friendship with a badly disfigured soldier in the aftermath of World War I forces 13-year-old Annie to redefine the word "hero" and to question conventional ideas of patriotism.
Rylant, Cynthia. I Had Seen Castles. 1993.
Now an old man, John is haunted by memories of enlisting to fight in World War II, a decision which forced him to face the horrors of war and changed his life forever.
Schmidt, Gary D. The Wednesday Wars. 2007.
During the 1967 school year, on Wednesday afternoons when all his classmates go to either Catechism or Hebrew school, seventh-grader Holling Hoodhood stays in Mrs. Baker's classroom where they read the plays of William Shakespeare and Holling learns much of value about the world he lives in.
Taylor, Mildred. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. 1976.
A black family living in the South during the 1930s is faced with prejudice and discrimination which its children do not understand.

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World War II and the Holocaust

Blundell, Judy. What I Saw and How I Lied . 2008.
In 1947, with her jovial stepfather Joe back from the war and family life returning to normal, teenage Evie, smitten by the handsome young ex-GI who seems to have a secret hold on Joe, finds herself caught in a complicated web of lies whose devastating outcome change her life and that of her family forever.
Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. The Boy Who Dared. 2008.
In October, 1942, seventeen-year-old Helmuth Hübener, imprisoned for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets, recalls his past life and how he came to dedicate himself to bring the truth about Hitler and the war to the German people.
Boyne, John. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. 2006.
Bored and lonely after his family moves from Berlin to a place called "Out-With" in 1942, Bruno, the son of a Nazi officer, befriends a boy in striped pajamas who lives behind a wire fence.
Chapman, Fern Schumer. Is it Night or Day? 2010.
In 1938, Edith Westerfeld, a young German Jew, is sent by her parents to Chicago, Illinois, where she lives with an aunt and uncle and tries to assimilate into American culture, while worrying about her parents and mourning the loss of everything she has ever known.
Davis, Tanita S. Mare's War. 2009.
Teens Octavia and Tali learn about strength, independence, and courage when they are forced to take a car trip with their grandmother, who tells about growing up Black in 1940s Alabama and serving in Europe during World War II as a member of the Women's Army Corps.
Dogar, Sharon. Annexed. 2010.
A dramatic and ambitious companion to The Diary of Anne Frank, this fictionalized account of the two Jewish families in hiding is told from the point of view of Anne's companion in the secret annex, 15-year-old Peter van Pels.
Gleitzman, Morris. Once. 2005.
After living in an Catholic orphanage for nearly four years, a naive Jewish boy runs away and embarks on a journey across Nazi-occupied Poland to find his parents.
Greif, Jean-Jacques. The Fighter. 2006.
Moshe Wisniak, a poor Polish Jew, uses his physical strength and cleverness, plus luck, to help him survive the horrors he is subjected to in the concentration camps of World War II. Based on the life of Moshè Garbarz.
Jablonski, Carla. Resistance. 2010.
The first of a trilogy, this stirring graphic novel set in 1940 in the French countryside authentically expresses the personal standoffs and immediate drama of children who are drawn into the Resistance when German soldiers occupy their village.
Keneally, Thomas. Schindler's List. 1982.
A mesmerizing novel based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who saved and succored more than 1000 Jews from the Nazis at enormous financial and emotional expense.
Orlev, Uri. The Man from the Other Side. 1991.
Anti-semitic Marek makes profits in the sewers under the Warsaw ghetto during World War II, then his mother reveals his Jewish ancestry to him.
Pressler, Mirjam. Let Sleeping Dogs Lie. 2007.
When Johanna travels to Israel for a class project, she discovers that her family's clothing store was obtained by her grandfather under the anti-Semitic laws of the Third Reich.
Smith Sherri L. Flygirl. 2008.
During World War II, a light-skinned African American girl "passes" for white in order to join the Women Air Force Service Pilots.
Rosnay, Tatiana de. Sarah's Key. 2007.
Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel d'Hiv' roundup. Paris, May 2002: On Vel d'Hiv's 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past.
Russell, Mary Doria. A Thread of Grace. 2005.
In 1943, teenaged Claudette Blum scales the Alps with her father, hoping to find sanctuary in Italy.
Spiegelman, Art. Maus: A Survivor's Tale. 1986.
A story of a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe and his son, a cartoonist who tries to come to terms with his father's story and history itself.
Spinelli, Jerry. Milkweed. 2003.
He's a boy who lives in the streets of Warsaw. He's a boy who steals food for himself and the other orphans. He's a boy who believes in bread, and mothers, and angels.And when the trains come to empty the Jews from the ghetto of the damned, he's a boy who realizes it's safest of all to be nobody.
Westall, Robert. The Kingdom by the Sea. 1990.
Twelve-year-old Harry and a stray dog travel through war-torn England in search of safety.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. 1986.
Wiesel's account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps, including a new preface is which he reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man's capacity for inhumanity to man.
Wulffson, Dean. Soldier X. 2001.
In 1943, 16-year-old Erik Brandt experiences the horrors of war when he is drafted into the German army and sent to fight on the Russian front.
Yolen, Jane. Briar Rose. 1992.
Rebecca has always loved listening to her grandmother's stories about Briar Rose. However, the old woman's astonishing and hard-to-believe admission that she "is" Briar Rose sets Rebecca on an unforgettable path of self-discovery that will change her life forever.
Zusa, Marcus. The Book Thief. 2006.
At nine years old, Liesel Meminger is taken from her mother to live with a foster family in Molching, Germany during Hitler's rise to power. Liesel learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. Death is the narrator in this story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

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