History is such a broad topic, making it the ideal source of inspiration for so many amazing stories. Events from the past contain moving life lessons that you can use to educate your kids on what those before us have done and gone through. You can invite them to grapple with themes of hope, adventure, love, and loss independently or make it a communal experience by gathering your class around for some story time.
Our collection of influential history picture books provides a fantastic way to portray true accounts to your young readers in a way that they can understand and enjoy, while also getting them excited to learn about world history!
1. Oskar and the Eight Blessings
This award-winning book tells a story of hope when times seem hopeless. Your kids will follow a young refugee, Oskar, who’s in search of his aunt – the only family he has left. After fleeing from Nazi Germany, he must now find his way in this new world alone. But despite his fears, he’s shown kindness that changes everything for him.
2. The Golden Acorn
Here’s a 5-part historical fantasy series that will take your young readers on a journey back in time into a magical world of legends. Jack Brenin is an ordinary boy who finds a golden acorn, prompting an adventure that’s anything but ordinary.
3. Elizabeth Blackwell: Girl Doctor
Introduce your children to simple language and sentence structure as you have them read about early life stories of important figures in history. For instance, they’ll learn about Elizabeth Blackwell – the first female doctor in the U.S. who contributed to many amazing things in the medical field.
4. The Little Island
Set on an island in the middle of the ocean, this beautiful story recounts the tale of a kitten who witnesses changing seasons, wild creatures, and new experiences that she’ll never forget. Portrayed through a whimsical and engaging narrative, it’s the perfect format for your kiddos to get lost in.
5. The Most Magnificent Thing
A young innovative girl and her dog set off on a mission to build the most magnificent thing! Your class will love this amusing book that’s packed full of life lessons told from the perspective of a little dog making for a relaxing read that’s great for clearing one’s mind.
6. The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin
We all have special abilities and attributes that make us unique and significant. In this real-life story, your pupils will learn about Temple Grandin. She’s a historical figure who used her unique gift of thinking in pictures to revolutionize science and pave the way for others with autism to do great things.
7. The Big Umbrella
With its stunning illustrations and important messages, The Big Umbrella is a fantastic book to have your kids read. It’s a heartfelt story about inclusion, acceptance, and friendship and pushes the narrative that no matter what you look like, the big umbrella has room for everyone.
8. Mr. George Baker
Amy Hest tells the inspiring story of a young schoolboy and an old musician who become friends while waiting for the bus. In this touching story, your readers encounter chunks of inspiring life advice and hilarious jokes as they explore this tale of intergenerational friendship.
9. Susan B. Anthony: Her Fight for Equal Rights
Susan B. Anthony was a powerhouse historical figure who revolutionized women’s rights in America. Engage your children in her powerful story that portrays her never-ending tenacity to fight for what she felt was right, told in an easy-to-read format that’s great for young readers.
10. A Race Around the World: The True Story of Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland
Take your children on an adventure around the world with these two determined historical women. Only one can win the race and they’re determined to navigate around the known world in the fastest time, by any means necessary.
11. Nowhere Boy
Inspired by recent events, Katherine Marsh weaves together a tale about friendship that’s focused on the conflict in Syria, making it a poignant read for your children. With many families being left uprooted and displaced, Ahmed finds himself alone in Belgium until he meets his new friend Max.
12. The Story of George Washington
Perfect for your beginner readers, this novel shares the full story of George Washington from his birth in Virginia to his presidency and founding father’s legacy.
13. Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman
Introduce your kiddos to Bessie Coleman, an incredible figure in American History. They’ll read about the true story of how she overcame racism, poverty, and sexism to become the first African-American female pilot. It’s an inspiring testimony to perseverance that your readers can use to drive their own passions.
14. The Sign of the Beaver
In this historical picture book that’s set in the 18th century, your learners will engage with the tale of a young white boy named Matt who meets a Native American boy named Attean. Matt soon learns about the complicated relationship between the Native Americans and the settlers who are taking their lands.
15. How I Became a Spy: A Mystery of WWII London
Award-winning author, Deborah Hopkinson, will take your young minds on a secret mission with Bertie and his companions, as they race around war-torn London solving clues to protect the Allied forces.
16. The Bridge Home
Set in the streets of India, this beautifully written novel tells the story of 4 young homeless kids who make a life with each other during chaotic times. Its engaging narrative touches on the difficult subjects of poverty and violence in an accessible way that makes it easy for little readers to process.
17. Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief
Your children will be transported to 1942 in this critically-acclaimed book that’s set during the Great Patriotic War in Russia. It’s a fictional story that tells the heartbreaking tale of little Sasha who loses his family and future to the chaos of war. All alone, he must find a way to survive and avenge those he loved and lost.
18. A Place Where Sunflowers Grow
This captivating book brings to life the hardships that many Japanese Americans had to face during WWII. You’ll shine a light on this turbulent time in American history as you have your students read about Mari and her search for inspiration as she joins an art class while being imprisoned in a United States internment camp.
19. Her Right Foot
This educational read provides a fantastic way to broaden your learners’ knowledge of the Statue of Liberty. They’ll uncover the stories and emotions behind Lady Liberties’ ever-watchful eyes as they grapple with topics such as the relevance of this iconic figure in American History.
20. Ellis Island: An Interactive History Adventure
Here’s a super cool, interactive book to engage your class in American History. In this “You Choose” adventure they’ll learn about the role that Ellis Island played in the establishment of the new world. They’ll be in control of the narrative because, with every turn of the page, they’ll be prompted to choose how the story will go.
21. The War That Saved My Life
Here’s another WWII-inspired tale that’s sure to become a classroom favorite. Ada is not allowed to leave her house because her mother is ashamed of her deformed foot, but when Ada’s brother is sent off to fight, Ada decides to sneak off and join him.
22. The Street Beneath My Feet
Have your kiddos journey back to prehistoric times with this amazing picture book! It’s packed full of stunning illustrations and stories about the history that lies beneath our feet. From bones and bricks to bugs and bags of trash, they’ll discover the hidden history that these layers hold.
23. If You Were a Kid During the American Revolution
Engage your adventurous readers in this action-packed tale. In the early days of the American Revolution, Samuel and Molly must come up with an ingenious plan to save their fathers from capture.
24. I Survived the Galveston Hurricane, 1900
Your kids will learn about the power of hope in this novel that’s based on the true story of the Galveston Hurricane in Texas. It tells the tale of one boy who survives this disaster after a storm devastated his city, causing all sorts of damage and destruction.
25. John Lincoln Clem: Civil War Drummer Boy
Based on true events, your children will read about the Civil War and how a young drummer boy named John Lincoln Clem overcomes starvation, violence, disease, and imprisonment to make it home alive!
This touching story of Alex and his newly rescued dog recounts the devastating events of September 11th. You’ll introduce your readers to a new perspective on this historic day in a context that they’ll understand and with a story they won’t want to put down.
27. A Long Walk to Water
With two intertwining stories, your class will be moved by this story of a young Sudanese refugee looking for his family and a young girl who walks countless hours each day to retrieve water from a pond. Their childhoods are 23 years apart, but their journeys will be shared for a lifetime.
28. Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters
This powerful book, written by former president Barack Obama for his daughters, will make the perfect read for your children too. Through his words, they’ll learn about 13 historical figures from the United States and black history who portrayed admirable traits that all kids should look up to and learn from.
29. Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote
Elizabeth Cady Stanton grew up in a time when women did not have the right to vote. You’ll inspire your learners with her brave and bold attitude and her decision to educate herself to make sure she has the tools she needs to change her country for the better.
30. Juneteenth for Mazie
Juneteenth is a top pick if you’re looking for a picture book that celebrates liberty and freedom. Your readers will meet Mazie as she learns about Juneteenth and what the day signifies for her family and the United States.
Have your kids read about Little Dizzy Gillespie as they follow him on his quest for jazz fame! In this tale that’s based on a true story, Dizzy finds his own personal haven in jazz and even creates a new genre of music called Bebop.
32. So Other People Would Be Also Free: The Real Story of Rosa Parks for Kids
Introduce your young minds to the incredible story of Rosa Parks. Her life was anything but easy, from her early childhood to her impactful moment on the bus. They’ll read and learn about this amazing woman who changed the United States for the better with her unwavering bravery.
33. The Underground Abductor
Embark on an extraordinary journey with Harriet Tubman as your learners read how this African-American woman transcended the shackles of slavery to become a beacon of freedom. It’s a remarkable tale that portrays how she guided others along the Underground Railroad and is a powerful testament to human courage, resilience, and unbreakable will.
34. Pioneer Girl: A True Story of Growing Up on the Prairie
Foster a connection with history as you have your class engage with this coming-of-age tale that’s set in America’s past. Step into the shoes of Grace, a young girl growing up on the frontier in the 19th century as she faces challenges and triumphs in her journey for personal growth.
35. Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Nelson Mandela was an indomitable champion of justice in South Africa that your children can learn so much from! This biography is more than a recounting of events, it’s a vivid portrayal of one man’s dedication to fight for freedom and equality during apartheid rule.
36. The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk
Relive the urgent pulse of the Dunkirk rescue in World War II, seen through the young eyes of a girl and her father. With its themes of bravery, unity, and hope in a time of despair – it makes for an emotional read but also a touching reminder for your young readers of our collective strength in adversity.
37. Leonardo’s Horse
Have your kiddos explore the intersection of art and fascination with Leonardo da Vinci and his passion for equine beauty. This gracefully written story unravels the genius of one of history’s greatest minds and will encourage your learners to view the world with curiosity and awe.
38. Frida Kahlo: The Artist Who Painted Herself
Dive into the vibrant world of Mexico’s iconic artist by having your kids learn about Frida Kahlo. It’s filled with artistic innovation and with every page they’ll discover Kahlo’s passion for life and creativity in this empowering exploration of art as a means for self-discovery.
39. Through My Eyes: The Story of Ruby Bridges
Ruby Bridges recounts the events of historical integration of a racially segregated school in New Orleans. This real-life story will provide your readers with a profound lesson in humanity as they read about a tiny African-American schoolgirl who became an icon of the civil rights movement.
40. The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps
Your kids will go on an adventure into the wilderness with Jane Goodall and her groundbreaking study of chimpanzees. With a nurturing touch, this story will instill a love for animals in your readers as they explore a side of nature that’s sure to captivate and educate them.
41. Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride
In this inspiring read, your students will join two pioneers of flight, Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt! This historical tale showcases the power of friendship and the limitless possibilities for women who dare to dream.
42. Flying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared into America’s Heart
Dive into the adventurous life of Ruth Elder, a pioneering aviatrix who attempted to fly across the Atlantic. Her story will encourage your children to pursue their dreams even in the face of adversity as they read about her story that’s packed full of excitement and determination.
43. The Great Fire of London
Transport your young readers back to 1666 and the dramatic events of the Great Fire of London. The vivid narrative and detailed illustrations will help them understand the historical significance of human resilience during this massive catastrophe.
44. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Inspired by true events, this book tells the story of a young Malawian boy who builds a windmill to save his village from drought. Your kids are in for an inspiring lesson in creative problem-solving with this compelling tale of innovation, determination, and resourcefulness.
45. Molly, By Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter
Discover the extraordinary story of Molly Williams, who became America’s first female firefighter. Her bravery and dedication will serve as an inspiring example to your class of breaking gender barriers and serving others while also encouraging them to believe in their abilities.
46. Bird Woman Sacajawea: The Guide of Lewis and Clark
Have your learners dive into this educational journey as they join Sacajawea on her quest to guide Lewis and Clark along their historic expedition. Her wisdom and resilience highlight the invaluable contributions of Native American women in shaping America’s history.
47. The Brave Escape of Ellen and William Craft
In this gripping and emotional story, your readers will witness the thrilling escape of Ellen and William Craft from slavery. It’s a courageous tale that sheds light on the harsh realities of slavery and the pair’s determination to be free.
48. I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World
Follow the life of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist who fought for girls’ education. It’s a vital read when introducing your class to human rights and her inspiring story perfectly emphasizes the importance of education, bravery, and speaking up for what’s right.
49. Hana’s Suitcase: A True Holocaust Remembrance
Unfold the heartbreaking story of Hana Brady, a young girl victimized by the Holocaust. The narrative will connect your children to her personal story from a tragic time with words that foster empathy and an understanding of one of history’s darkest periods.
50. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter: The Remarkable True Story Of American Heroine Ida Lewis
Learn about Ida Lewis, a brave lighthouse keeper who saved many lives. This beautiful tribute to a heroic woman will motivate your young readers to embrace responsibility and kindness to become heroes in their own ways.
51. Climbing Lincoln’s Steps: The African American Journey
Explore the Lincoln Memorial’s symbolic role in the African-American journey toward equality. Each step taken on the road to change will inspire your kids with hope and understanding as they engage with this thought-provoking read that connects history to the ongoing struggle for equality.
52. The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau
Venture into the whimsical jungles crafted by the visionary French artist Henri Rousseau. Your children are invited to explore the artistic magic that can spring from perseverance and self-learning with his imaginative biography that reveals the essence of creativity and self-expression.
53. The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdős
Immerse your young minds in the unique perspective of world-renowned mathematician Paul Erdős. Math will become an adventure as the narrative unfolds his passion for numbers and the joy of problem-solving in this tale that demystifies math in a fun and approachable way.
54. The Wright Brothers: Nose-Diving into History
Take your learners on a thrilling flight through history by introducing them to the Wright Brothers! From obscurity to the inventors of aviation, your readers will be enthralled by their pioneering spirit as they engage with this tale that showcases the value of persistence and innovation.
55. Harriet Tubman: Leading the Way to Freedom
Here’s an alternative read for kids who want to learn more about the heroic quest of Harriet Tubman. It pays tribute to her courage and commitment to human rights and recounts her remarkable story, brought to life by captivating illustrations. It’s another timeless tribute to a legendary icon of history.
56. Lincoln and Grace: Why Abraham Lincoln Grew a Beard
Uncover the charming story of President Abraham Lincoln and the young girl who inspired his iconic beard. You’ll transform history into a delightful experience for your children with this lively tale that creatively blends historic truth with a heartwarming narrative.
57. Sailing the Mayflower
Set sail on the Mayflower in 1620 and have your readers experience the adventurous voyage through the eyes of its youthful passengers. This book artfully melds historical facts with vibrant illustrations to provide your students with an immersive glimpse into this significant era.
58. The Story of Ruby Bridges
Here’s another essential read that recounts the bravery of Ruby Bridges. It eloquently portrays her grace and fortitude during a tumultuous period of history and is an essential read that will educate your children on the fight for civil rights in America.
59. Gandhi: A March to the Sea
Follow Mahatma Gandhi’s monumental 240-mile march against the British salt tax in this inspiring narrative. Introduce your young readers to the peaceful philosophy and determination of Gandhi in this beautifully depicted tale that teaches children about non-violent protests and ethical leadership.
60. The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower
Dive into the adventurous life of a young boy aboard the Mayflower, experiencing his unforeseen journey and trials. With its engaging illustrations and gripping plot, it makes for a memorable and educational read that’s sure to captivate your class.
61. Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos
Wander through the colorful world of Frida Kahlo and her cherished pets. This delightful book will connect your learners with her artistic passion as it intertwines art with her love for animals, offering an enchanting exploration into her vibrant life.
62. Amelia Earhart: Little People, BIG DREAMS
Soar with Amelia Earhart, the fearless female aviator who conquered the skies! Your kiddos will find inspiration in her determination as they read about her adventurous spirit and groundbreaking achievements that led to her trailblazing role in aviation history.
63. Pompeii: Lost and Found
Transport your pupils to ancient Pompeii to uncover the secrets before the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It’s a book that’ll offer a captivating look into the life and culture of this once-thriving city and it’s filled with detailed illustrations that make for an intriguing exploration of history and archaeology.
64. Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Introduce your class to the profound impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most gifted and influential speakers of all time. This novel illustrates his relentless pursuit of love and equality and serves as a touching tribute to his legacy and a timeless lesson for future generations.
65. Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library
Explore Thomas Jefferson’s zeal for books and his role in founding the Library of Congress. Your young readers will discover more about his intellectual curiosity and the importance he placed on education and knowledge with this engaging read.
66. The Paper Crane
Immerse your kids in the whimsical world of this Japanese folktale. With beautiful imagery, the book narrates a timeless story of compassion and makes for a delightful read that’ll leave an enduring impression on your young minds.
67. Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad
Uncover the remarkable story of Henry Brown, who escaped slavery in a wooden crate. Your learners won’t forget this moving narrative as you have them engage with this incredible tale that’ll open up dialogues about slavery and freedom, and deeply resonate with your readers.
68. Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World
Rachel Carson’s dedication to nature and influential advocacy come to life in this compelling read. You’ll immerse your kids in the world of this inspiring environmentalist who’s sure to inspire a love for nature and an understanding of environmental activism.
69. Titanic: Voices from the Disaster
This haunting and educational glimpse into a historical tragedy is told through the voices of its survivors. Your readers will experience the tragic sinking of the Titanic through these riveting personal accounts and detailed illustrations in this comprehensive book that provides accurate insights into that fateful night.
70. The Story of Anne Frank
In this heart-wrenching tale, your children will be introduced to Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl whose diary offers a first-hand account of the events of the Holocaust. It sensitively portrays her life and thoughts during the harrowing backdrop of World War II, giving your kids a profound understanding of life during war.