10 More Historical Fiction Novels to Recommend to Your Secondary Students

March 08, 2019

Historical fiction is the perfect blend of fiction and nonfiction. Parts of it are true and it could have all happened, but it didn't quite. It's a genre I love to recommend to students because as they are reading, they are also learning about an issue, event, or time period. Here's ten historical fiction titles, separated into middle school and high school, that I've recently read and would recommend.
Historical fiction is the perfect blend of fiction and nonfiction. Parts of it are true and it could have all happened, but it didn't quite. It's a genre I love to recommend to students because as they are reading, they are also learning about an issue, event, or time period. I recently wrote about 7 historical fiction titles for middle school students and 9 for high school students as well as 14 World War II and Holocaust novels. Here's ten more historical fiction titles, separated into middle school and high school, that I've recently read and would recommend. Click the title of each to read my full review and ideas for using it in the classroom.
Though she is only twelve, Gerta, the main character, and her brother Fritz, not much older, already have government files that will determine their fate in life. Their apartment is bugged and just looking at the wall on her way to school earns Gerta reprimand from the soldiers who guard it. Considering these conditions, it is amazing that Gerta and Fritz would even consider tunneling beneath the Berlin Wall to be reunited with their father and brother. Gerta isn't fearless, but nothing can stop her from reaching her goal once she starts.
The novel is narrated by Levi Battle, a teenage African American boy from Chicago who has little to no experience with racism and has never even heard of the "Jim Crow" of the South. His young age and innocence allow the reader to imagine the shock of coming into contact with experiences like being forced to sit in a blacks only section of a train or a storekeeper threatening one's life for entering through the front door of his shop.

Nadia must navigate through her war torn city in an attempt to reunite with her family. As bombs fall and shots are fired around her, she is filled with fear and the pain in her leg from a previous incident in the war in which she was struck by shrapnel. She, who has rarely left the house since her injury, must now rely on the kindness of complete strangers and think quickly in life or death situations. 
This is a fun twist on historical fiction as it recounts a major event in American history, Lewis and Clark's journey, but from an animal's perspective. The narrator, Seaman, is just as adventurous as the men he accompanies and repeatedly proves himself to be a loyal companion. He is a keen observer and has an excellent read on the character of men (and women). 

The main character Mattie is a plucky teenager who has a strained relationship with her mother and a crush on a local boy, both issues to which modern day teens can relate. As the novel progresses and yellow fever sweeps through the city, Mattie takes on greater responsibility for her family and their family business, a coffee shop. She is forced to make difficult decisions and is a mature young adult by the time disaster subsides.

High School
6. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
The novel is set during WWII and features young women in non-traditional roles. As a female pilot, Rose can only transport planes, not engage in combat, but when she goes astray on a mission, she is forced into enemy territory and eventually taken to a concentration camp.

7. The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein
Set in Scotland before World War II begins, the book follows Julie on her misadventures the summer she returns to her grandparents' estate to help clear it out before it becomes a school. On the day she returns, Julie is knocked unconscious and spends most of the rest of the summer trying to piece together what happened to her.

8. Out of The Easy by Ruta Septys
Josie, the protagonist, is a fierce character. Because her mother thinks only of herself, Josie learns to fend for herself at a very young age. She has a passion for books and education, and is determined to create a better life for herself despite the many obstacles in her way.

9. The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner
The story alternates between two first person narrators: Kyle, a teenage boy trying to make his way home from school on 9/11, and Hannah, the teenage girl he rescues on the way. Kyle and Hannah are both struggling with burdens that neither is fully prepared to disclose at first. In the midst of great tragedy, the two try to comfort each other, but also have moments of teenagers just being teenagers.

10. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
This novel is so much more than historical fiction. The narrator Monty is hilarious and the plot is full of adventure and action. There's romance, but also some mystery. The author even tackles issues of race, gender, and sexuality. 

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