Historical Fiction: A century of characters you ought to know

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.

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.

Linda Johns
  1. Such a fantastic list! For the 1940s could I recommend two books that published this year- PAPER WISHES by Lois Sepahban and my book THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM. Thank you.

  2. I didn’t know historical fiction was a genre in books. That would be cool to use historical facts but make it a fictional story. I could see a lot of books being written in that way.

  3. Thank you for this great list. I would be very interested in a list that goes way back, that covers historical fiction about the Middle Ages, Elizabethan England, etc.