5 Books to Teach History

Introducing important, inspiring, and difficult historcal events to children can be done with beautifully written picture books. These five books take events from a variety of eras. They are useful for introducing an inspiring person or an important event in history. Read them to your own children, or use them to begin a discussion in a classroom.

Ruth and the green bookRuth and The Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey 

Independent reading level: 3rd Grade  Appropriate for: 1st-5th Grades

Ruth and her family are traveling from Chicago to Alabama to visit her family. Jim Crow laws were still in effect, and her family faces prejudice as they travel through the south. They use the Green Book, a resource with listings of restaurants and hotels that welcomed black people. The Green Book was a real resource many people used, it is a piece of history I was unaware of before I read this book. A perfect way to talk about injustice, standing up for what is right, and teaching about the sad history segregation.

To purchase on Amazon, click here:  Ruth and the Green Book

balloons-over-broadwayBalloons Over Broadway:  The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

Independent reading level: 5th Grade  Appropriate for: Preschool to 5th Grades

Melissa Sweet is the most wonderful illustrator. Her books are filled with fun, bright, happy illustrations. She won two awards for her writing and illustrating of this book. It tells the story of the puppeteer that created the window displays and the balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. A happy piece of history, great to talk about physics, perservering, and the history of traditions. I love this book.

To Purchase on Amazon, click here: Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade (Bank Street College of Education Flora Stieglitz Straus Award (Awards))

The Camping Trip That Changed America by Barb Rosenstock 

Independent Reading Level: 4th Grade Appropriate for: Kindergarten to 5th Grades

the camping trip that saved americaJohn Muir and Theodore Roosevelt took a camping trip together after Mr.Roosevelt lost his wife and mother. John Muir wanted to preserve the Redwood Forest and great pieces of wilderness he loved, but he had no power to stop development. Theodore Roosevelt camped with John Muir and they cooked up the idea of the National Parks. They saved amazing land formations for future generations to enjoy. An inspiring story written with engaging light hearted text. I would use it as an introduction to a geography lesson on the US national parks, or during a unit on Presidents of the United States.

To Purchase from Amazon, click here: The Camping Trip that Changed America

Clara and the shirtwaist strike_Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Maker’s Strike of 1909 by Michelle Market 

Independent Reading Level: 5th Grade  Appropriate for: 1st-5th Grade 

This is the story of a girl fighting for rights for garment workers in 1909. I would use this book as a discussion starter on immigration, and many issues still facing our country today. It introduces children to Ellis Island and life of early immigrants in the United States. Reading gives a child the ability to emphathize and gain compassion for others. This book is a great place to start.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909

stone angel_Stone Angel by Jane Yolen 

Independent Reading Level: 4th Grade  Appropriate for 2nd-5th Grade 

Jane Yolen is one of the best story tellers in children’s fiction. Her newest book is about a family fleeing the Nazi invasion of Paris. Sadly, the family’s journey reminded me so much of the Syrian refugees we have watched flee their country. This is told in way that is truthful, but not frightening for young children.  A wonderful way to introduce the holocaust and spark conversation about refugees today.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Stone Angel




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