Historical Fiction for Teens

When deciding which books to use to supplement the lessons for your teens, consider adding historical fiction to your student’s curriculum. By searching the shelves of your local library or bookstore, you’ll find many classic and contemporary tales to supplement your World History or American History course. Not only do the books reinforce the student’s knowledge of a particular time period, they present him with a good story as well.

If your child is reading a novel you haven’t read before, it’s a good idea to read the book at the same time. Not only will you be able to discuss the book with him in greater detail, but you’ll also know the content of the story and be able to discern if it’s a good fit for your student.
As you search for historical fiction, here are a few you might want to consider:

Contemporary Novels:

  • The Book of the Lion by Michael Cadnum (Middle Ages/Crusades)
  • The Ruby in the Smoke and The Tin Princess by Phillip Pullman (Victorian England)
  • A Break With Charity: The Story of the Salem Witch Trials by Ann Rinaldi (Colonial America)
  • April Morning by Howard Fast (American Revolution)
  • Becca’s Story by James D. Foreman (Civil War)
  • Nightjohn and Sarny by Gary Paulsen (Civil War)
  • After the Dancing Days by Margaret Rostkowski  (World War I)
  • The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter (Great Depression)
  • The Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Green (World War II)
  • I Had Seen Castles by Cynthia Rylant (World War II)
  • Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Meyers (Viet Nam War)

Classic Novels:

If you and your child enjoy classic literature, look for:

  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Puritan New England)
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (French Revolution)
  • Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (American Revolution)
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (Napoleonic Russia)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (pre-Civil War)
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (Civil War)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (World War I)
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Roaring 20s)
  • Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (The Great Depression)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Alabama, 1930s)

Other books to consider include those by authors G.A. Henry and Rosemary Sutcliff. G.A. Henry was an eighteenth-century English author who wrote 122 historical fiction novels covering the eras from the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage to the American Civil War. Rosemary Sutcliff is more contemporary author, whose work includes The Silver Branch, Frontier Wolf, and The Shining Company.

Homeschooling Reading Curriculum by SmartTutor.com

Story Time – Stories for Kids

Guest Blogger: Samantha Bell

Picture By: Jayel Aheram


  1. Suggesting books for youngsters can be tough sometimes. But one that is high on my list is ‘The Great Gatsby‘. It’s a typical period book in the sense that it reflects the times it was written in, the 1920s. I found more on this at Shmoop, a site that has an in depth analysis of this book from various approaches. The story, however, can occur in any time zone. The themes of revenge, alienation, love, hypocrisy, jealousy, emptiness, etc., are emotions most of us go through at some time in our lives. But as Fitzgerald comments towards the end of the novel, the more we try to bring back the past, the more it eludes us. That’s a lesson for all of us, I think.

  2. It is a good idea to read a nonfiction book along with a historical novel set in the same time era and covering the same events.  Authors of historical fiction often take creative liberties with events and characters in order to tell an interesting story. There is no way to discern fact from fiction unless you read nonfiction and historical fiction concurrently.  From: Marilyn Weymouth Seguin, author of ten historical fiction books for children and young adults

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