History books for 4th graders
Who Was Sacagawea?
by: Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin, illustrated by: Nancy Harrison and Val Paul Taylor - (Grosset & Dunlap, 2002) 112 pages.
This 16-year-old Native American girl guided Lewis and Clark across 4,500 miles of the western U.S. while carrying her baby son on her back. As the explorers mapped the territory they were covering on their expedition, the Shoshone teen taught them about edible and medicinal plants and served as translator with the many Native Americans they encountered. This engaging, inspiring, and detailed biography melds peoples and histories together.
Perfect for: Kids who like nature, camping, hiking, and canoeing.
Find Who Was Sacagawea? at your local library.
Who Was Abraham Lincoln?
by: Janet Pascal, illustrated by: Nancy Harrison and John O’Brien - (Grosset & Dunlap, 2008) 112 pages.
He was the 16th president, the one who steered the U.S. through the Civil War and abolished slavery. Crammed with fascinating facts, from his birth in a Kentucky log cabin to his assassination in a Washington, D.C., theater, this is a clear and comprehensive biography about “Honest Abe ” that includes more than 100 black-and-white illustrations and maps.
Perfect for: Any kid who may grow up to be president.
Find Who Was Abraham Lincoln? at your local library.
The Lakota Sioux
by: Andrew Santella - (Children’s Press, 2000) 48 pages.
Dive into the history, traditions, religious beliefs, arts and crafts, and ceremonies of this Great Plains tribe with this book. The tribe’s conflicts with Europeans are reported, including those of tribe members Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, who led the battle where Custer and his army were defeated. The book includes current information on the surviving culture and the tribe’s location today, as well as sidebars, an index, a glossary, and a resources section with more books, websites, and organizations where your child can learn more. This books is part of a series, including books on the Apache, Cherokee, Inuit, Pueblos, Zuni, Cheyenne, Choctaw, Aztec, Iroquois, and other tribes.
Perfect for: Fans (and soon-to-be fans) of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse
Find The Lakota Sioux at your local library.
The Ancient Chinese
by: Jane Shuter - (Heinemann Library, 1997) 32 pages.
For 3,500 years, China’s recorded civilizations have shaped the world with valuable inventions and philosophies. This book delves into family life, society, politics, economics, culture, and famous thinkers in ancient China. In addition to data-packed text, the book includes maps and diagrams with colorful photographs and a bibliography of source materials.
Perfect for: Sinophiles who are interested in the Middle Kingdom.
Find The Ancient Chinese at your local library.
Joan of Arc
by: Demi - (Two Lions, 2011) 56 pages.
A pious 15th century French peasant girl, Joan heard the archangel Michael’s voice and raised an army to lead a prince to his place on the throne. This lusciously illustrated biography shows and tells how she saved France. But when captured by enemies and convicted of heresy, the king abandoned her, and she was burned at the stake. Today, she’s a patron saint of France and her miraculous life is heralded for courage and faith. The exquisite illustrations, influenced by medieval stained glass, paintings, architecture, and illuminated manuscripts, are the highlight of the book.
Perfect for: Born leaders.
Find Joan of Arc at your local library.
Good Queen Bess: The Story of Elizabeth I of England
by: Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema, illustrated by: Diane Stanley - (Harper Collins, 2001) 40 pages.
This biography of Elizabeth I, the beloved queen who reigned for 45 years during England’s Golden Age, brings her colorful rule to life for youngsters. Political hazards and momentous events, including the defeat of the Spanish Armada, are described in clear prose, which is complemented by ornate, detailed illustrations. Readers will learn of the monarch’s strong will, shrewd diplomacy, religious tolerance, and devotion to her subjects.
Perfect for: House of Tudor historians and young Anglophiles.
Find Good Queen Bess: The Story of Elizabeth I of England at your local library.
Gandhi: A March to the Sea
by: Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by: Thomas Gonzalez - (Two Lions, 2013) 40 pages.
In 1930, Mohandas Gandhi marched from his hometown to the Indian Ocean with 70 followers to protest the salt tax the British Empire had imposed on its colony. It was a 24-day walk. Gandhi’s brave activism created a nonviolent movement that ultimately led to India’s freedom. Lyrical verse and inspiring pictures capture the determined rhythm of the marchers. The book also delves into Gandhi’s transformation from shy boy to international leader.
Perfect for: Shy children who want to see justice in the world.
Find Gandhi: A March to the Sea at your local library.
by: Jane Yolen, illustrated by: David Shannon - (HMH Books for Young Readers, 1996) 32 pages.
When Christopher Columbus arrived in San Salvador in 1492, a Taino boy tried to warn his unsuspecting tribe that the white strangers wanted gold far more than their friendship. Years later, as an old man, he looks back at the horrendous genocide that followed. In endnotes, the author estimates the original Taino population of 300,000 dwindled to 500 just 50 years later.) With passionate text and powerful illustrations, this book provides a thought-provoking view of Christopher Columbus’ so-called achievements.
Perfect for: Kids who are ready for more than Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria.
Find Encounter at your local library.
The Cats in Krasinski Square
by: Karen Hesse, illustrated by: Wendy Watson - (Scholastic Press, 2004) 32 pages.
In this poignant tale based on historic events, Jewish children capture and release stray cats to distract Nazi Gestapo and their snarling dogs. Chaos erupts when the dogs chase the cats, which allows the children enough time to smuggle food into the ghetto, where their family and friends are trapped. The spare, poetic story and the unsettling color illustrations convey the battle of good versus evil, hope’s triumph over despair, and bravery in the face of brutality in 1942 Warsaw.
Perfect for: Resourceful kids interested in brave acts of resistance.
Find The Cats in Krasinski Square at your local library.
Brave Harriet: The First Woman to Fly the English Channel
by: Marissa Moss, illustrated by: C.F. Payne - (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2001) 32 pages.
In this fictionalized, first-person narrative of Harriet Quimby, she says, “There were no planes when I was a girl, but once I saw one, I knew where I belonged.” After stunt pilot work, she embarked on a risky attempt to be the first woman to fly solo across the English Channel. Harriet succeeded on April 15, 1922, but fame eluded her because the Titanic sank the very same day, burying her deed in the back pages of history. “But it didn’t matter,” she says, “because I knew I had done it.” An inspiring tale accompanied by realist drawings from unique angles.
Perfect for: Kids with soaring spirits who are ready to take flight.
Find Brave Harriet: The First Woman to Fly the English Channel at your local library.
A Really Short History of Nearly Everything
by: Bill Bryson - (Delacorte Press, 2008) 169 pages.
Kid-friendly natural science from the Big Bang to the dawn of civilization. Amazing and amusing statistics and illustrations about the awesomeness of the universe are presented with infectious enthusiasm. Perfect for curious kids enthralled by huge digits — for example, did you know that there’s 400,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms in a baby’s body?
Perfect for: Kids who like the history of science.
Find A Really Short History of Nearly Everything at your local library.
Baseball Saved Us
by: Ken Mochizuki, illustrated by: Dom Lee - (Lee & Low Books, 1993) 30 pages.
Children will love this moving tale in which hope triumphs over evil. In this picture book, a young boy tells the story of his parents’ internment in a camp for Japanese Americans in 1942. Despite the deplorable conditions in the camp, the prisoners use an improvised baseball game to keep their hope alive.
Perfect for: Kids who like historical fiction.
Find Baseball Saved Us at your local library.
by: Paul Fleischman - (HarperTrophy, 1995) 128 pages.
A fictional account of the famous Battle of Bull Run told from 16 perspectives, including men and women from the North and South. This book will give your child insights into the glories — and horrors — of war.
Perfect for: Kids who like history.
Find Bull Run at your local library.
If You Lived with the Hopi
by: Anne Kamma, illustrated by: Linda Gardner - (Scholastic Paperbacks, 1999) 80 pages.
Hopi daily life is presented in an engaging Q & A format that colorfully depicts the tribe’s games, clans, kachinas, gardens, houses, hairstyles, history, and dances. For example, the Hopi — which means “wise and beautiful people” — climbed cliffs looking for baby eagles “so their prayers would be answered.” A multicultural gem. (Be sure to check out some of the other books in this series, too.)
Perfect for: Kids who like learning about Native Americans.
Find If You Lived With the Hopi at your local library.
by: Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by: Matt Faulkner - (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2008) 40 pages.
Twenty two “patriettes” are praised in this exuberant collection of bios. Sybil Ludington gallops 40 miles to warn American troops — and she’s only 16 years old! Deborah Sampson disguises herself as a man to fight as a soldier. “Mom” Rinker, Philadelphia spy, passes secrets in balls of yarn. Fun, feminist read that “sets the record straight.”
Perfect for: Kids who like women history.
Find Independent Dames at your local library.
Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin
by: Gene Barretta - (Henry Holt and Co., 2006) 40 pages.
This clever tribute to America’s colonial inventor asks, “How did Ben Franklin change our world?” The answers include bifocals, lightning rod, swim fins, political cartoons, Franklin stove, odometer, daylight savings time, Vitamin C, libraries, post office, and even a rocking chair that churns butter. Cute cartoons of the jovial polymath, with a fun, futuristic ending.
Perfect for: Kids who like to read about real people.
Find Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin at your local library.
The Complete Little House Nine-Book Set
by: Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by: Garth William - (Harper & Row, 1971)
Pioneer family classics describing 1800s life on the frontier viewed through the eyes of a girl growing up. Covered wagons, log cabins, frozen blizzards, loyal pets, hostile beasts, a blind sister, rural relationships, and the constant struggle to survive in the woods and prairies of Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and the Dakotas.
Perfect for: Kids who like stories about pioneers.
Find The Complete Little House Nine-Book Set at your local library.
Trail of Tears
by: Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by: Diana Magnuson - (Random House, 1999)
In 1836 the Cherokee Nation was evicted from their ancestral homeland by the U.S. government. The 17,000 exiles of this civilized tribe were forced to relocate to an Oklahoma reservation 1,200 miles away. Their sorrowful first day preparing for the painful Trail of Tears is illustrated here with vibrant watercolors and extensive background information.
Perfect for: Kids who like learning about the history of Native Americans.
Find Trail of Tears at your local library.
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain
by: Peter Sis - (Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2007) 56 pages.
This award-winner shows a child’s view of the Cold War. This serious book deserves time and close attention. There are many big political and philosophical ideas, and mentions of events that may disturb some children, including a plane hijacking, imprisonments and deaths. Families can talk about and compare what was happening in America during that time. Are grandparents available to share their own memories of the Cold War era? Families can also explore the Western cultural touchstones that meant so much to Sis — the Beach Boys, the Beatles. Awards: Caldecott Honor, New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award, Kirkus Reviews Editors’ Choice, School Library Journal Best Book, Parents’ Choice Award Winner, Horn Book Fanfare.
Perfect for: Kids who like historical fiction.
Find The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain at your local library.
by: Kathleen Krull, illustrated by: David Diaz - (Harcourt Brace, 1996) 44 pages.
Polio crippled Wilma’s left leg, but she was determined to triumph over this handicap. After painful years of therapy, she ditched her steel braces and started sprinting, faster and faster, until she gained three gold medals at the 1960 Olympics. A great role model for gritty persistence and hope.
Perfect for: Kids who like to read about real people.
Find Wilma Unlimited at your local library.