US History Resources (Middle Grade)

My friend Georgia runs The Thinking Kid, a wonderful source for live, interactive online courses for kids around the world. She asked me for some ideas on history resources to supplement their curriculum, and I thought I would share them here.

These resources won’t cover everything a kid should know. I consider this list supplemental to a comprehensive text on these periods. It’s also a work in progress. Prior to Georgia’s request, I had never considered whether what I read would work for the middle grades, and I did not want to recommend anything I had not read myself. Check back for updates as I plow through my newly enhanced reading list!

Also, since Georgia’s class is not specifically about women’s history, I have a lot on here that is more general. But I have placed asterisks (***) by those that are about or by women, if that’s what you’re here for.

Colonial

Nonfiction

Contemporary Literature and Documents

  • ***”On Being Brought from Africa to America” by Phyllis Wheatley
    • This could be a good springboard for a discussion about slavery and racism, but I would not use it alone. It should be presented in context with other viewpoints, and a speculation on why Wheatley might have written it the way she did.
    • Students may also be interested to know that Wheatley’s poetry career began at age 14.
  • ***Excerpt from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs.
  • Excerpts from Poor Richard’s Almanac by Benjamin Franklin

Historical Fiction

  • ***The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
    • An award-winning novel about 16-year-old Kit who arrives in Connecticut in 1687.

Revolution

Nonfiction

Contemporary Literature and Documents

Historical Fiction

  • My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier
    • An award-winning novel about a family torn between loyalty to the crown and revolutionary ideas.

Antebellum and Expansion

Nonfiction

Contemporary Literature and Documents

Historical Fiction

  • ***Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
    • Great book about a girl living through the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. Very timely as we are still in a pandemic as I write this.
  • ***The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
    • This is the Native American answer to the Little House series. It features an Ojibwa girl and her family living by Lake Superior.

Civil War and Reconstruction

Nonfiction

Contemporary Literature and Documents

Historical Fiction

  • Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
    • An award-winning book about a family torn between North and South.

Progressive Era

Contemporary Literature and Documents

Historical Fiction

  • ***The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
    • This is one of my favorite books ever. It’s about a spunky girl with big dreams living on her family’s plantation in Texas at the turn of the century.

20th Century

Nonfiction

Contemporary Literature and Documents

Historical Fiction

  • ***Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
    • At age 16 Hattie inherits an unimproved Montana farm and decides to try homesteading alone. It often feels like a novel about the 19th century west, but is in fact set during World War I.
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
    • An absolutely delightful book about a black family living in Flint, Michigan, but traveling back to their roots in Alabama. Plenty about racism and civil rights, but it’s also often cheerful and funny.
    • This could be paired with more recent news about Flint, Michigan, and racism.
  • ***Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
    • A beautiful easy-to-read book about a girl who is a Vietnamese refugee in the US.

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