Sure, historical fiction has the power to transport you to a different era, immerse you in a new situation and maybe teach you a lesson along the way. But that’s probably not how middle grade readers describe why they like certain books. Most likely, they’ll talk about the characters, and maybe about the setting, and most certainly slip in some insights about how things were different — and how feelings were very much the same as now — so long ago. When historical middle grade is at its best, readers connect and can imagine themselves in that world, in that situation.
Looking back to the last century, here are 10 books — one set in each decade — to fuel that imagination and ground compassion.
- 1900s: When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens
- 1910s: Audacity Jones to the Rescue by Kirby Larson
- 1920s: Written in Stone by Rosanne Parry
- 1930s: Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm
- 1940s: The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
- 1950s: Unstoppable Octabia May by Sharon Flake
- 1960s: A Night Divided by Jennifer A.Nielsen
- 1970s: It Ain’t So Awful Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
- 1980s: A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park
- 1990s: The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern
What are your favorite middle grade novels set in 20th century decades? It would be wonderful to get your ideas in the comments, and have this as a resource for teachers, librarians, and parents — and the middle grade readers in our lives.