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Historical Fiction for Middle Graders

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Fiction is shelved alphabetically by the author's last name. 

Crispin - The Cross of Lead                  14th Century England                                                                    
by Avi       
The day his mother dies, 13-year-old Crispin flees his village, wrongly accused of a crime. He hopes that the words on his mother’s lead cross hold a clue to his unknown father, but as a lowly peasant boy, he can’t read. Then he meets Bear, and everything changes.    

Wolf’s Boy                                 Prehistoric Times                                                                    
by Susan Beckhorn     
Kai longs to be a hunter, and earn a place among his People, but his club foot means he’s forbidden even to touch a hunter's sacred weapons. Kai turns to his true friends, the wolves who nurtured him as a baby. Seeing an orphan cub in the pack, he risks everything to care for her, but the People fear her. Kai and the wolf must leave.  Will they survive? Will their friendship survive?

Young Samurai: The Way of the Warrior                  Medieval Japan                                      
by Chris Bradford
A British ship is attacked by Japanese ninja pirates. The crew is killed, including Jack’s father. Only young Jack is rescued - by a powerful Samurai who adopts him and trains him as a warrior. As a foreigner, Jack is treated as an outcast at Samurai school, and must use all his wit and skill to survive and succeed.

The War That Saved My Life                          1940’s  England   
by Kimberly Bradley                                           
Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute - she sneaks out to join him.So begins a new adventure: Ada learns to read, to ride a pony,  and to watch for German spies.  But when the war is over, will she have to return to her awful life?                     

Bud, Not Buddy                                 Depression-era Michigan                             
by Christopher Curtis
Ten-year-old Bud is an orphan on the run, looking for the man who might be his father: jazz artist Herman E. Calloway. Along the way, Bud has many exciting   adventures, narrated in his own often hilarious voice. Calloway is not happy to meet Bud, but the other band members make Bud feel at home. Lots of interesting detail about life during the Great Depression.                               

Stella by Starlight                              1930’s North Carolina                          
by Sharon Draper                    
Stella (11) lives in segregated Bumblebee, NC. She envies the fine school buildings for the white children, and she knows which stores she’s not allowed in. At least the Ku Klux Klan hasn’t bothered her community for years. But on one night, Stella and her brother witness a meeting of the Klan. That means trouble. This humble heroine must find her hidden strength: her words.

The Diamond of Drury Lane          18th Century London                           
by Julia Golding                         
Cat has lived in the Drury Lane Theater Royal ever since she was abandoned as a baby and taken in by Mr. Sheridan, the owner of the theater. When Cat sees Mr. Sheridan hide a valuable diamond, she and her friends decide to keep the treasure safe, beginning a thrilling adventure.  

The Year of Miss Agnes                         1948, Alaska                                 
 by Kirkpatrick Hill                                            
Ten-year-old Frederika knows the new teacher in town won’t last long.  Most teachers who come to their remote one-room schoolhouse leave at the first smell of fish, or the first deep freeze.  Miss Agnes seems different - she throws away old textbooks and reads Robin Hood!  For the first time, Fred and her classmates are enjoying learning - but will Miss Agnes leave as quickly as she came?

The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a boy called Eel      19th Century London                      
by Deborah Hopkinson
Eel is a mudlark, combing through the filthy banks of the Thames for anything he can sell, to survive. London is dangerous enough during the cholera outbreak, but Eel is also pursued by his evil stepfather. Polluted air is blamed for the epidemic, but Eel and his mentor Dr. Snow believe the disease is being spread through a local water pump. This exciting tale mixes mystery, science, and history. 

Journey to the River Sea                     1910, The Amazon                                                      
by Eva Ibbotson
When Maia, a young orphan, travels with a no-nonsense governess to the Amazon wilderness, she expects orchids, macaws, and the embrace of a new, loving family. What she finds is an evil-tempered aunt and uncle and their spoiled daughters! But she is soon swept up in a true Amazon adventure. Lush historical detail may remind readers of classic authors like Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Inside Out and Back Again                    1970’s Vietnam and Alabama                                              
by Thanhha Lai
At the end of the Vietnam War, 10-year-old Hà flees the country with her mother and brothers, and after a grueling journey arrives as a refugee in Alabama. Though safe, Hà faces cruel rejection from mean classmates. Based on Lai’s personal experience and written in short, wonderful free-verse poems, Hà’s story describes her mistakes - both funny and heartbreaking - with customs, grammar, and clothes.                                                              

The Lions of Little Rock                  1958, Little Rock, Arkansas                                            
by Kristin Levine
As 12-year-old Marlee starts middle school, her world seems to be falling apart. Then she meets Liz, a friend who knows just what to say - unlike Marlee! When Liz leaves school without even a goodbye, the rumor is she was caught trying to “pass for white.”  Marlee doesn’t care; she just wants her friend back. But standing up to segregation in 1958 can be dangerous. 

Number the Stars                              1943, Nazi-occupied Denmark                                
by Lois Lowry
Annemarie’s best friend Ellen is Jewish., so when Jews start being rounded up and sent to the death camps, Annemarie’s family helps Ellen’s parents hide, and take Ellen into their home, pretending she is part of their family.  This moving and suspenseful book is based on true events.                                                    

As Far As I Can See:  Meg’s Prairie Diary                  1849, Kansas                                        
by Kate McMullan
When her mother and sister get sick, Meg wants to care for them. But her father wants to keep Meg and her brother safe with their relatives on the Kansas prairie. After an adventurous journey, Meg and Preston start to learn about life in a new place, and the politics of the time. Meg is sweet and strong, with a sense of humor! 

A Night Divided                                 1960’s East Berlin
by Jennifer Nielsen              
Greta wakes up one morning in 1961 to see that the Berlin wall has been built overnight, and now divides her city and her own family: her father and one brother in the West, the rest trapped in the East. Years pass. Now 12, Greta is old enough and brave enough to follow secret instructions from her father, and tunnel to freedom.  This thrilling book will have you holding your breath until the very last page!

A Single Shard                                        12th Century Korea                                                               
by Linda Sue Park 
Tree-ear, a 13-year-old orphan, lives under a bridge in a village famed for delicate celadon pottery. He longs to make  a pot of his own, so when he becomes Master Potter Min’s helper, he’s elated - until he faces the backbreaking work, and Min’s temper!  But Tree-ear is determined to prove himself, even if it means a long journey. Even if it means arriving at the royal court with only a single celadon shard.                                                          

A Long Way from Chicago                   1930’s Rural Illinois 
by Richard Peck                                                 
Each summer Joey and Mary Alice leave Chicago to visit their grandma’s seemingly sleepy little town. Turns out it’s not sleepy, and Grandma’s not your typical grandma. From seeing their first corpse (who’s not resting easy), to helping Grandma trespass, to catching the sheriff in his underwear, to feeding the hungry (all in one day!) Joey and Mary Alice have nine summers they'll never forget.                                                              

May B.:  A Novel                                   1870’s Kansas prairie                                                            
by Caroline Rose
When Ma and Pa send her out to work, May, 11, finds herself in a small homestead miles from home, caring for a new, young bride barely older than she is!  When the bride runs away, her husband goes to find her, and May is all alone - frightened, furious, abandoned. Can she survive five months until her parents come to collect her at Christmas? Told in very short lines of free verse - a satisfying, dramatic read. 

The Witch of Blackbird Pond            1687, Connecticut
by Elizabeth Speare         
As soon as she sees the bleak shores of Connecticut Colony, 16-year-old orphan Kit Tyler knows it won’t be like the beloved Caribbean home she left behind. Her friendship with Hannah, a Quaker woman the locals call a witch, is a comfort in her loneliness, but will the friendship put Kit’s own life in danger?                                                             

One Crazy Summer                 1968, California                               
by Rita Williams-Garcia                                      
One summer, three sisters travel from New York to California to meet the mother who abandoned them long ago. Delphine (11) has been like a mom to her little sisters, ever since their mother left them in search of a radical new life. When they arrive for the summer, nothing is like they imagined. Instead of Disneyland, they go to a day camp run by the Black Panthers. The girls learn a lot during that crazy summer!                    

Wolf Hollow                                              1943, Rural Pennsylvania    
by Lauren Wolk                       
Small town life has mostly been quiet for 11-year-old Annabelle, even in the shadow of two world wars. Then a new girl walks into her class.  Betty’s cruel bullying doesn’t seem too bad at first, but then Toby, a reclusive WW I veteran, becomes her target. People think Toby is strange, but Annabelle knows of his kindness.  Will she find the courage to stand up for him, when things get much, much worse?   

Brown Girl Dreaming                  1960’s South Carolina                                       
by Jacqueline Woodson                                                 J811.54 WOODSON
This is the moving, powerful story of the author’s own childhood in the American south in the last days of the Jim Crow era. Contained in the irresistible poetry is the story of a young person who is finding her own voice, at a time when many voices were silenced.