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Kids' Historical Fiction: Revolutionary War Period

Updated on August 11, 2016
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Brainy Bunny is the mother of two. Together they read, craft, and play games for fun.

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Finding the Right Book for Your Child

Some children love history, and want to immerse themselves in historical fiction to find out everything they can about a period. Others may have a specific interest in a narrow field, such as spies or military technology, which can make finding an appropriate book more challenging. Read on for age-appropriate suggestions for Colonial Period and Revolutionary War novels for your child.

Ben and Me

Ben and Me is a true classic: originally published in 1939, adapted for film and picture books by Disney, yet still in print today. It tells Ben Franklin's story from the point of view of a mouse named Amos, who lives in Ben Franklin's hat. Of course, Amos takes credit for a good many of Franklin's innovative ideas, including the wording of the Declaration of Independence. Two-thirds of the book takes place in colonial Philadelphia, affording children the opportunity to experience the colonial period and the preparations for war, but the other third takes place in France, and tells the story of Franklin's time as an ambassador seeking to secure funding for the fledgling U.S. forces in their fight against the much more powerful British. Franklin's important contributions to the war effort are often overlooked in children's study of history, so this book, silly as it undoubtedly is, is an invaluable resource. Ben and Me is considered to be written at a fourth-grade level, but you can share it with children as young as kindergartners by reading it aloud and sharing Robert Lawson's excellent original pen-and-ink drawings.

Meet Felicity

The American Girl series provide uplifting historical stories for young girls, and Felicity's series is no exception. Meet Felicity is the first book of a six-book series set in Williamsburg, VA, in 1774. Felicity Merriman is a nine-year-old girl who would rather be riding horses than laced up in elaborate dresses, learning to dance the minuet. Later in the series, Felicity must decide whether to become a Patriot and risk alienating her best friend, who is part of a staunch Loyalist family. The Lexile levels for the series are in the 600s, making them just right for third- and fourth-graders.

George Washington's Socks

Looking for a historical novel with contemporary flair? Try reading about the time-traveling kids in George Washington's Socks, by Elvira Woodruff. A group of ten-year-old boys and a tagalong younger sister find themselves accidentally transported into the middle of Washington's historic crossing of the Delaware, on the eve of the Battle of Trenton. With just enough blood and military authenticity to keep boys interested, but not so much that it grosses out the girls, this book is a winner for all kids fourth-grade and up.

Emma's Journal

If you've got a fourth- or fifth-grade girl who is a reluctant reader, try Emma's Journal by Marissa Moss. Emma, a ten-year-old girl in Boston, tells the story of the early days of the Revolutionary War in an illustrated diary format.

Daniel at the Siege of Boston, 1776

So many historical novels for kids and young adults are aimed at girls, but here is one for the boys in your life. Daniel at the Siege of Boston, by Laurie Calkhoven, tells the story of 12-year-old Daniel as his father and brothers go off to fight with the Patriot army. He must be the man of the house, helping his mother run the family business, a tavern frequented by British soldiers. He's in a unique position to learn enemy secrets, and is soon tapped to become a spy, slipping through the British lines around Boston to bring urgent messages to General Washington. There are some tense, violent moments during battle, and Daniel's fear is emotionally portrayed, making this book most appropriate for children in fifth grade and beyond. If your younger son is interested, consider reading it together and discussing the more harrowing scenes.

Johnny Tremain

Another classic, Newbery Medal-winner Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes, remains just as powerful today as when it was published nearly 70 years ago. Johnny is a 14-year-old apprentice silversmith in Boston until he becomes injured and is drawn into the burgeoning war effort as a messenger for the Sons of Liberty. John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and other prominent patriots and their roles in the war are featured. Middle-schoolers will appreciate this coming-of-age story.

Chains

Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson, tells the story of the Revolutionary War through the eyes of a 13-year-old slave girl in Rhode Island and New York. While the country fights for its freedom, Isabel must fight for her own, as well. The level of detail and length of the book make it most appropriate for middle-schoolers and teens. This book is the first part of a trilogy, and was a National Book Award Finalist in 2008.

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    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I recently published a Civil War era Short Story focused on a 14 year old boy caught living between north and south. Hope to do some more. Thanks your contributions, to get me thinking about the next story. I love historical fiction.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 4 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Hi, Schoolmom24. These are all great books, and your daughters should enjoy them now and as they get older. I also have a hub about historical novel series for girls, so you may want to check that out as well. Enjoy your reading time with them; it's so precious!

    • Schoolmom24 profile image

      Schoolmom24 4 years ago from Oregon

      I am a home school mom, as well has an avid fan of historical fiction and American history, so you can bet I loved this hub! Having two girls, we have read the Felicity series and one of my daughters has read "Emma's Journal" I think but there were several I had never heard of. George Washington's Socks sounds so fun!

      I just wrote a short piece of historical fiction as a hub and hope you can stop by. Thanks for the great recommendations! Voted up and useful.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thank you, IntroduceCroatia. I am lucky that my daughter is a tremendous reader of historical fiction, so I have made myself something of an expert!

    • IntroduceCroatia profile image

      Ante Rajic 5 years ago from Croatia

      Nice lists of books, it's pretty hard to choose the proper books for kids :)

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thanks, Debby! My kids are real history buffs, so they love historical fiction.

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 5 years ago

      Rebbetzin Bunny ~ Absolutely wonderful historic book reviews for children this age interested in learning. Voted up and useful. Hugs, Debby

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Fantastic! You may remember Ben and Me from watching the Disney version as a child, but the book is better. I hope you and your family enjoy it.

    • thebookmom profile image

      thebookmom 5 years ago from Nebraska

      Great list! My favorite on your list is Johnny Tremain. I can't wait to check out Ben and Me. Well done.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thanks, susanm23b. Since I wrote this, I have picked up the next book in the Chains trilogy, called Forge. It's also excellent.

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      susanm23b 5 years ago

      Excellent hub with great suggestions! I am always looking for great books to buy for my children. We have already read a few of these, but George Washington's Socks and Chains are new to me. I'll definitely check these out! Voted up :)

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thank you for the suggestion. I looked it up, and it looks like the perfect book for my husband, actually. I think I'll get it from the library for him to enjoy.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Very good suggestions. Another good one for teens is CITIZEN TOM PAINE by Howard Fast.

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 5 years ago from Western Australia

      Thank you Brainy Bunny, my son grew up with Bryce Courtney's historical novels and started to read many autobiographies as well...Sally Morgan, who has written great books about her Aboriginal heritage is his favourite author. Australia is his homeland and my adopted land, I have come to love and cherish...Australian fiction and non-fiction were the first books I have offered to my son and the first ones he took to his hands to learn to read:)

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thank you, Beata. I hope your son enjoys some of these books. I see you're living in Australia, though -- maybe you can also look together for historical fiction set in Australia, so that he can learn about his own heritage, as well.

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 5 years ago from Western Australia

      Great suggestions, my youngest son loves history and reads fiction and non-fiction....I have suggested many European writers being born there but I take up on your suggestions as well...

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Painted Seahorse, thanks for the tip about Ann Rinaldi! I checked out her titles on Amazon, and they look perfect for my daughter (and me too, maybe) to enjoy. We're going to have fun at the library this week!

    • Painted Seahorse profile image

      Brittany Rowland 5 years ago from Woodstock, GA

      This is a great list! I need to check out Chains. Also, I would recommend the books by Ann Rinaldi. She's written YA novels set during the Salem Witch Trials, Boston Massacre, Industrial Revolution, and more. Great hub!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Seeing as how Johnny Tremain was written in 1943, I think it's pretty safe to say it was around when you were a child. However, I can understand your not being aware of it without a handy-dandy list like this! :-)

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Johnny Tremain remains one of my all-time favorites for this period. I only wish I had been able to read it before I grew up. I keep wondering why no one introduced me to many of these fine books, including this one, when I was younger. Of course, many hadn't yet been written when I was a child.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

      Ahhh yes, my many kids, I teach fourth grade! :) Although I do LOVE reading YA novels.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thank you, Cardelean. They're all great books. I'm sure you or the kid in your life will enjoy them.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

      Great list. I am not familiar with most of these, I'll have to check them out. Congrats on your Hubnugget nomination and welcome to Hubpages!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Thanks, ripple maker. I'm doing my best to get the word out!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination! See your hub in the Books, Literature and Writing category -- https://hubpages.com/community/Happy-HubNuggets-Va... read, vote and promote!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image
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      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Gina: I bet they would! In particular, Chains is a great book for adults as well as teens. The second book in the trilogy is called Forge, and the final book, Ashes, should be coming out in October 2012.

      dkm27: Thank you. I have it on my list to read more of Anderson's books, actually. I think my daughter would love Fever 1793, but we keep forgetting to get it from the library.

      ElizaDoole: I'm glad to hear that you don't hold that whole revolution business against us! Thank you for taking the time to read my hub; I'm very glad you enjoyed it.

    • ElizaDoole profile image

      Lisa McKnight 5 years ago from London

      What a fantastic idea for a hub. I'm in the UK, but I can appreciate the thought behind this. Voted up.

    • dkm27 profile image

      dkm27 5 years ago from Chicago

      Great list. Loved Chains. Anderson is a great YA author. I think I enjoy YA novels better than adult novels.

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      Gina 5 years ago

      These books are great. I would not be surprised if my own grown daughters would enjoy them!