A Mighty Girl's top picks of historical fiction starring Mighty Girls for tweens and teens!
For many readers, a good work of historical fiction takes history from facts and figures on a page and brings it to life! Historical fiction encourages readers to imagine what it was like to live in times and places other than our own — and helps them see that, no matter when and where someone lives, people are more alike than different. Plus, historical fiction has a particular role to play when studying eras where girls and women were often relegated to the sidelines: it can draw out their involvement in the major events of the period and show that, wherever history was being made, girls were there too.
In this blog post, we've shared many of our favorite works of historical fiction starring Mighty Girls! These books take place in settings around the world, in times from hundreds of years ago to a mere generation past. Each of them stars a Mighty Girl character who shows that courageous, intelligent, and resilient girls have played a part in every culture and every time. Tween and teen readers will love getting to dip their toes into these different time periods — and to imagine what role they will play in the history that's being made today.
Historical Fiction Starring Mighty Girls
10-year-old Ruth Block knows tensions are rising in 1938 in Frankfurt, Germany. Jewish-owned stores are being shut down — including Ruth's father's stationery store — and people on the street shout mean things at Ruth and her family. One night in November, though, discrimination explodes into violence; Ruth's father is dragged into the square and arrested alongside hundreds of other Jewish men, and the mob vandalizes homes, businesses, and synagogues, littering the ground with broken glass that later gives the night its nickname: Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. Filled with photos, maps, and more, this fictionalized story of survival brings the fascist Nazis rise to power to life through the eyes of a girl living it firsthand. For more historical survival stories from the Girls Survive series, check out Daisy and the Deadly Flu, Lucy Fights The Flames, and Alice on the Island.
Pixie is heartbroken and furious to be starting 5th grade with the infamous "Miss Meany-Beany" and without her beloved sister Charlotte, who has been whisked away to a polio ward for who knows how long. Being quick to snipe at her classmates doesn't win he any friends, either. But when a runt baby lamb is born on the family farm, Pixie discovers that raising Buster helps her slow down, which lets her think twice about her snap judgements: about her teacher, her classmates, her neighbors, and more. Both charming and bittersweet, this novel captures life in America's heartland in the 1940s through the eyes of a girl who finds she can handle more than she thinks.
A lot is changing for Millie: her friend has moved away, her beloved Gram has recently died, and with Hitler attacking Europe, the United States may be going to war. Plus, her sickly sister demands all of her mom's attention, which means Millie has to be responsible for her little brother. It's hard to enjoy the sun and sand of California with so much changing so quickly, but with the help of Gram's last gift — a special notebook — and a new friend, Millie may manage to keep her center. The Newbery Award-winning author of Catherine, Called Birdy and The Midwife's Apprentice explores World War II on the homefront — including the challenges brought by rationing and the lingering effects of the Depression — through the eyes of a clever, determined Mighty Girl.
It's England in 1483, and young Nell is the daughter of the royal butcher. Even though she's a commoner, she's grown up with the royal children, including Prince Ned, the heir and her best friend. Even when Ned is sent away to prepare to be king, he writes to Nell, piquing her interest in reading and writing. But treachery is afoot: when King Edward dies, Ned's uncle, Richard III, claims the throne and imprisons Ned in the Tower of London. Nell wants to help Ned escape... but can she manage, and if she doesn't, what will happen to her? Based on the true and shocking story of the Princes in the Tower, this captivating historical fiction novel set against a historical story of betrayal and murder captures a girl's coming of age as she finds a way to live independently, despite the time.
12-year-old Ariel Goldberg's life feels like it's falling apart: her family's bakery is in financial trouble (in part because of anti-Semitism in their Connecticut town), her mother thinks her struggles with writing are laziness, not a disability, and after the 1967 Loving vs. Virginia Supreme Court decision striking down bans on interracial marriage, her older sister Leah has eloped with a man from India. Ariel knew Leah was in love with Raj, but she never expected her to run off with him — especially not without even leaving her a note. Now Ariel feels on her own as she wrestles with both the anti-Semitism she faces regularly and her dawning realization of her own family's prejudices. But along the way, she starts discovering her own voice, through poetry and public speaking. Inspired in part by the author's parents' interracial marriage, this heartfelt historical fiction novel explores the power of defining your own beliefs.
When the war ended three years ago, 10-year-old Glory Bea's father didn't come home. Mama and her grandparents say he died on Omaha Beach, but she believes he's still out there — after all, her matchmaker grandmother's success is proof that miracles can happen. When her father's soldier buddy comes to their home in Gladiola, Texas. and Mama starts paying more attention to him than Glory Bea likes. she becomes convinced that the Merci Train, which is full of thank you gifts from France, is also carrying Daddy. But sometimes, the miracle you want isn't the miracle you get... This touching and complex story of grief and love in the wake of war is perfect for fans of Kate DiCamillo’s Louisiana’s Way Home.
10-year-old Hà has lived her whole life in Saigon, and she loves everything about the city — the bustling markets, its unique traditions, and her very own papaya tree. But when the Vietnam War reaches the capital, Hà and her family are forced to flee. They make their way by boat to a tent city in Guam, then to Florida, and finally, to a new home in Alabama. To Hà, this new land is all wrong: her neighbors are cold, the food is dull, and even the landscape feels alien. Even still, thanks to the strength of her family and help from a teacher with a very unexpected connection to the country where she was born, Hà begins to find her own place in this new world. This National Book Award-winning novel is written in free verse. Fans of this story will enjoy the companion novel, Listen, Slowly.
Glory has always looked forward to celebrating her July 4th birthday at the community pool. But in 1964, the summer she turns 12, that proves to be complicated. The town is in an uproar: Yankee "freedom people" are insisting that the pool be desegregated, and in response, the town has closed the pool "for repairs" indefinitely. As the conflict continues, and Glory comes of age, she begins to look beyond her own situation and see the closure of the pool in the context of the broader world. This memorable story captures the thoughts and feelings of a girl caught on the cusp of adulthood and facing true injustice she had never noticed before.
It's 1582, and young Emilia Bassano dreams of writing plays — ones that include exciting, dynamic female characters, not the sideline roles she so often sees on stage. Then, a series of chance encounters (including a boy by the name of Will Shakespeare) result in Emilia stumbling on a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I. Soon, she's been recruited by the Queen's spymaster to travel to Sheffield Castle, where Mary Queen of Scots has been exiled, in an effort to uncover the culprit before it's too late. This compelling historical fiction novel features a daring young heroine, meticulously researched details about the Elizabethan era, and a clever twist ending young readers will love.
Ana Rosa is a budding writer — but in the authoritarian Dominican Republic controlled by dictator Rafael Trujillo, there is no freedom of expression. She spends her days scribbling on napkins, paper bags, and shop paper, and dreams of having a notebook of her own. The only support her mother feels safe offering is, "there always has to be a first person to do something." Then, the government announces that they will be bulldozing Ana Rosa's village to build hotels, and Ana Rosa's brother is appointed the village's spokesperson. Ana Rosa's poems don't have the power to stop the government's crackdown, but perhaps they can help her process her grief and tell her loved ones' story to the world. This powerful story about oppression, creativity, and the drive to seek justice will get kids thinking about the freedoms they likely take for granted.
12-year-old Cabby Potts loves her life on her 1870s Kansas homestead, but fires and grasshoppers have destroyed their recent crops. Cabby doesn't realize how close her family is to losing their claim until they tell her she has to go to work as a housemaid for the newly arrived (and very superior) Lady Ashford and her son, Nigel. At first, Cabby thinks she has the perfect plan: she'll orchestrate a match between Nigel and her older sister, Emmeline. But as time goes on, she learns painful truths: that Nigel looks down on her whole family, how the Ashfords are plotting to trick homesteaders out of their claims, and even how her own family and friends' claims came at the expense of Kiowa, Cheyenne, Kansa, and Wichita people. This rousing middle grade historical fiction novel features humor, heart, and a main character full of country-girl gumption.
It’s Denmark in 1943, and word is leaking out that the Nazis intend to detain the Danish Jews before shipping them to concentration camps. 10-year-old Annemarie doesn’t know why anyone would want to hurt her neighbors, including her best friend, Ellen Rosen, who Annemarie’s family conceals as one of their own. With the efforts of the Danish Resistance — and the entire community — Annemarie looks on as the Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, is seen to safety on Sweden’s shores. This beautiful story of the heroism of ordinary people is sure to be thought-provoking. Younger readers can learn about this inspiring moment of resistance and defiance in The Whispering Town for ages 6 to 9.
It's 1942, and ten-year-old Anjali is heartbroken when her mother joins India's freedom movement, answering Mahatma Gandhi's call from one member from every family to join the struggle. Not only does she have to worry about her mother risking her life, but she also has to give up many privileges, including her fine foreign-made clothes and her prejudice against the Dalit "untouchables." But her mother's dedication to the independence movement makes its mark on Anjali, and when her mother is jailed, Anjali steps in to ensure that their small part of the fight goes on. This poignant book illuminates the dangers faced by members of the ahimsa non-violent resistance movement — and shows how small actions and sacrifices from many came together to win the day.
Maia is an orphan from England, newly arrived in Brazil in 1910 and eager to meet her distant cousins — and explore all the adventures that the Amazon has to offer! But when she arrives, she discovers that her cousins and their twin daughters despise the outdoors and resent Maia's presence; Maia feels trapped inside their bungalow's dark walls. So every so often, she sneaks out, and along the way she meets two other orphans: a child actor longing to return to England, and a rich heir. When she stumbles into the middle of a mystery, Maia and her indomitable governess, Miss Minton, will set off on a real adventure! A vibrant setting and satisfying conclusion make this a stand-out title.
Katy Gordon is the best pitcher in the neighborhood — everyone knows that. But that doesn't mean she can try out for Little League; as far as the rules are concerned in 1957, it's no girls allowed, period. So when Katy learns a bit about civil rights in school, she decides to prove that she's not the only girl who plays baseball, and discovers that "girl’s baseball had a lot of history, but not a lot of now." With a setting that explores the vast changes of the late 1950s — from the Civil Rights Movement to Sputnik — and a determined heroine who won't let anyone tell her she can't play, this historical fiction novel is a home run.
When 10-year-old Emily Blue Hatchett's father decides to take the family from Illinois to Colorado, she has mixed feelings: the new opportunities there mean a long and difficult journey, as well as leaving many things behind. At first, the journey at least seems to offer a way to avoid the boring life of quiet sewing that Emily was resigned to before. However, as she witnesses all the hardships of wagon travel along the Overland Trail, Emily not only gains a wider view of the world: she also discovers that the quilting hour she used to dread can provide comfort in difficult times. This coming of age story brings to life the experiences of girls and women during the westward expansion.
It's 1957 Moscow, and Laika, a stray dog who's been captured from the streets, is about to meet Nina, a girl who's missing her best friend — and facing suspicion since her friend's family defected to America. The pair meet in a Soviet Space Program lab, where Laika is supposed to become a starflyer, a dog trained to travel to space in a remote-controlled craft. The girl and the dog quickly bond, and Nina even organizes a service project that will allow her to spend more time with Laika. But as Nina begins to question the Soviet regime's oppression, she comes to the horrifying realization that Laika isn't supposed to come back from her mission. Now she's desperate to find a way to save her new friend. Told in both Laika and Nina's voices, and based on an incredible true story, this is a tense and poignant exploration of the cost of early space exploration — and the love between a girl and a dog.
It's 1937, and Cora has only one thing on her mind: electric lights! The American government is urging people to support the Rural Electrification Act, which would bring electricity to her Appalachian community in Kentucky — and mean that Cora could listen to the radio, keep food cold in a fridge, or even read at night. The determined girl starts a school newspaper and even starts trying to convince her neighbors to support the Act, but her biggest obstacle is close to home: her herbalist mother, who wants to protect the flora and fauna around their home. Cora appreciates her mother's love for that way of life, but desperately wants more, too. This touching novel about the dream of progress and the fears of what it will bring will fascinate young readers who've lived their lives with electric lights.
Maroo and her family live a peaceful life at the end of the last Ice Age, but danger is always around the corner and they have to make it to the winter camp before the weather snow sets in. But when her family is delayed in leaving their summer grounds, a blizzard comes early and traps them. Their only hope is for Maroo and her brother Otak to take the treacherous trail over the White Mountain in search of help. When Otak goes missing, however, Maroo faces the harrowing decision about whether to stay and search for her brother or continue to the winter camp in hopes of saving the rest of her family. A modern classic, this story of survival has thrilled young readers for over 20 years.
After being orphaned by the influenza epidemic in British East Africa in 1919, Rachel goes to her neighbors for help — and the nefarious and conniving couple traps her in a plot. They have been disowned by their wealthy father, and they plan to get Rachel to impersonate their dead daughter, Valerie, and convince him to reinstate them in his will. Once in England, Rachel and the ill man develop a surprisingly close bond — close enough that Rachel fears that revealing the ruse will damage his health. But it turns out that the old man is not so easily fooled, and the ending of the story will leave readers cheering. Full of vivid descriptions of both England and what is now Kenya, this historical fiction novel is a rich coming-of-age adventure.
For Martha, 1805 Martha's Vineyard is a warm, welcoming community: like her, many residents are deaf, and everyone can communicate by sign. Her great-great-grandfather, one of the island's earliest settlers, was deaf, and she's always considered her heritage something to be proud of. But now things a young scientist named Andrew Noble has arrived to "fix" the town's residents. Noble chooses Mary as a "live specimen" for a cruel experiment, and she soon discovers that most people consider her deafness a disability. Her struggle to save herself is at the core of this penetrating and poignant novel that probes our perceptions of ability and disability. Inspired by the true history of a deaf community on Martha's Vineyard, this powerful novel explores means to be "normal."
Delphine may only be eleven, but she's used to caring for her sisters, Vonetta and Fern, since her mother left seven years ago for California. But the summer of 1968 is going to be different: their father is sending all three girls to visit Cecile in Oakland. They're expecting family trips to Disneyland to meet Tinkerbell; instead, Cecile sends them to youth programs at a Black Panther center and tells them to stay out as long as they can while she writes poetry. They may not be getting the maternal experience they expected, but over one crazy summer, they'll learn a lot about their family, their country, and themselves. Fans of this book can continue the sisters' story in P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy In Alabama.
Mavis Elizabeth Betterly — May B. for short — struggles at school because of dyslexia, and at home because a girl is far less useful on their Kansas farm than a boy. When her family is short on cash, her mother and father hire her out to a newlywed couple, the Oblingers, 15 miles away. She's promised that it's just until Christmas, but when the Oblingers don't return home — leaving May tapped in a snow-covered sod house without help — she'll have to find her own way to survive the winter and eventually make her way home. Told in verse, May's story is tense and lyrical, full of both gritty realism about life on a late-19th-century frontier homestead and hints of the hope that sustains her.
Like most teenagers, Mattie Cook's life in 1793 Philadelphia is full of ordinary concerns: avoiding chores, looking her best, and a few dreams of a bright future. But when a serving girl dies suddenly one summer night, the rumors of a budding epidemic prove all too true. Yellow fever is sweeping the streets, and people are panicked, either hiding at home or desperately trying to flee the city. When Mattie and her mother are separated, she will have to figure out how to survive until the frosts of the fall stop the disease in its tracks — and how to rebuild afterward. Kids will be enthralled by this story of epidemic, survival, and how society pulls apart — or draws together — in crisis.
12-year-old Hanako and her family were imprisoned by her own country in World War II, just because of their Japanese heritage, and then coerced into relinquishing their citizenship, forcing them to move to Japan. But their new country is in desperate straights post-war, including the small village outside of Hiroshima where her grandparents live. Compassionate Hanako wants to help, but her family doesn't even enough for themselves. Still, her grandfather's explanation about kintsukuroi — fixing broken items with gold lacquer to make them stronger and more beautiful — gives her hope for a future where her family is the gold that mends the wounds. Hanako shines in this emotional story about the aftermath of World War II and the Japanese internment.
Nadia's perfect twelfth birthday is interrupted by shocking news marking the beginning of the Arab Spring — and the start of the civil war in Syria. In mere months, her home city becomes a war zone, and her family decides to flee... but before they can, Nadia is buried in the rubble after a bombing, and her family is forced to go without her. As Nadia attempts to follow them, she receives help from an elderly bookbinder and encounters others like her: people young and old who just want safety and peace. Author N. H. Senzi uses Nadia's memories to highlight both the normal lives that most Syrians lived before the war, but also hints at the dangers when your country is ruled by a dictator, creating a compelling look at the trauma facing Syrian refugees.
12-year-old Hazel arrives in Southampton ready to sail across the Atlantic — alone. Her father has recently died, and her mother has told Hazel to buy a ticket for the celebrated new ship Titanic, find work in an American factory, and send money back home. Hazel dreams of being a journalist and thinks a story about the Titanic might help her break in... but she discovers she doesn't have enough money for a ticket. So she stows away, and with the help of Charlie, a friendly porter, and Sylvia, a first-class passenger Hazel's age, she begins exploring the ship. There are plenty of secrets to discover... but when disaster strikes, Hazel will need every ounce of her courage and wits to save herself and her new friends. Bestselling historical fiction author Jennifer A. Nielsen has crafted a compelling thriller packed with the best and the worst of the story of the Ship of Dreams.
14-year-old Billie Jo is a talented pianist who dreams of a performing career, the perfect way to escape Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl — until a gruesome accidental fire kills her mother and burns her hands so badly that she can't play. Everyone around her blames her for the accident, and her father won't talk about what happened... and the dust storms are destroying everything. But as Billie Jo turns her thoughts inward, she begins to accept her new self — and consider the possibilities that still remain. The carefully crafted verse in this novel's stanzas conveys the heat and bleakness of the Dust Bowl, as well as Billie Jo's emotional journey, in a way that shows the hint of hope lurking beneath it all.
While Mma works as a maid for a White household in Johannesburg, South Africa, Naledi, her brother Tiro, and her baby sister Dineo stay with family hundreds of miles away. But when Dineo gets sick, Naledi is sure that Mma is the only one who will know what to do, and she and Tiro set off on the journey to find her. It's the first time Naledi has traveled through South Africa, so she's never seen the truth of apartheid before: an innocent Black youth arrested, a girl who has lost her family fighting against the government. On her journey, she will have her eyes opened to the injustice around her — and the courage of those who defy it. Author Beverley Naidoo gives readers an unflinching look at the realities of apartheid and living in an authoritarian state in this searing novel.
7-year-old Omakayas is Ojibwa; her name means Little Frog, because her first step was a hop. She knows she was adopted as an infant after being the sole survivor of a smallpox epidemic in her family’s village, and she adores her family on the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker on Lake Superior... but despite being wise for her years, she still struggles with sibling conflict, including a sometimes disdainful older sister and an often pesky younger brother. The rhythms of everyday life are peaceful, but when they are broken by a smallpox epidemic, Omakayas will prove her courage, even in the face of tragedy. Omakayas' story continues in the sequels The Game of Silence and The Porcupine Year.
Molly Ayer is a is a Penobscot Indian girl who has been shipped from foster family to foster family; she's tired of adults acting like she's an inconvenience, and she doesn't care who knows it. But when Molly has to help an elderly woman clean out her attic for community service, she's surprised to discover that Vivian actually listens to her. As they work side by side, Vivian tells Molly her own story: the life of an Irish immigrant orphan riding an "orphan train" to the Midwest with hundreds of other children. This young readers' edition of Christina Baker Kline's #1 New York Times bestselling novel Orphan Train celebrates friendship and forgiveness.
11-year-old Calpurnia is curious why the yellow grasshoppers in her yard are so much bigger than the green grasshoppers. But it's Texas in 1899, and girls are supposed to devote their time to proper activities like needlework, not tromping through the grasses studying bugs. Still, Calpurnia recruits her grandfather, an avid naturalist, to help her figure out the mystery. As the pair grows closer, Calpurnia dreams of becoming a scientist, even as it becomes more obvious how difficult that will be for a girl in her time. This book will give tweens new perspective on the challenges that faced female scientists in the past. Calpurnia's story continues in The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, while readers age 6 to 9 can check out the early chapter book series Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet.
When the Berlin Wall went up, it split Gerta's family in two: her father and middle brother, who had gone to West Berlin to look for work, are on one side; Gerta, her mother, and her other brother are on the other, under the Soviet's authoritarian control in East Berlin. Now Gerta is growing up with East German soldiers pointing guns at their own citizens to keep them prisoners in their own city. Then, on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform, performing a strange dance, and receives a mysterious drawing. Her conclusion? Her father wants them to tunnel under the wall and reunite the family. But do they dare the deadly consequences of getting caught in search of freedom? This gripping book encourages kids to consider how fragile freedom can be as it ends with the warning: 'History repeats itself."
Billie Simms may only be 13, but she is already determined to see an end to segregation in her hometown of Anniston, Alabama — even if few people agree with her. When she hears that the Freedom Riders will pass through Anniston, Billie hopes that the town will see the justice in their cause; instead, they show the depths of their racism and prejudice. With the buses about to move on, Billie has to decide what to do: stay safe at home, or join the cause she believes in so passionately. In addition to the presentation of historical events, this novel explores Billie's developing awareness of her own internalized racism, which provides an intriguing starting point for discussion about racial issues of today.
12-year-old Darleen Daring is a silent-movie star, filming exciting adventure movies while always promising her nervous Papa that she won't take too many chances. But when a fake-kidnapping publicity stunt turns real, and Darleen and orphan heiress Victorine Berryman are kidnapped for real, Darleen will have to put all of her talent to use helping them escape the villains, evade their plots, and along the way, prove that she's up for challenges she never thought possible. This rollicking historical adventure includes fascinating details about the silent movie era — including an appearance by pioneering filmmaker Alice Guy Blaché — and a delightful heroine who will encourage kids to stretch their own limits!
Kit Tyler is heartbroken when she has to leave her beloved Barbados to join an aunt and uncle she's never met in 1687 Connecticut. And from the moment she arrives, she is the topic of disapproval and suspicion: in their Puritan community, a girl like Kit who swims and dares to talk back to her elders might get labeled a witch. And when Kit finds a kindred spirit in Hannah Tupper, a Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond, she suddenly finds herself facing witch hysteria and a mob mentality with nothing but a sense of truth and justice. This Newbery Medal-winning novel provides a stirring exploration of witch hysteria in early colonial America and the power of courageous individuals to stand up to mob mentality.
Everyone agrees that Deza Malone is the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana, so she's surely meant for great things. But if she and her family are going to make it through the Great Depression, her father has to leave to find work — after all, if there were jobs to be had, they'd go to the white men, not a black man like him. Soon, Deza, her mother, and her brother, Jimmie, set off too, ending up in a Hooverville outside Flint, Michigan where they hope to find a livelihood, Deza's father, and a place to call home. This story of hardship, loss, and devotion is full of painful historical detail, from Deza's rotting teeth to the teacher who won't give black children grades higher than a C, but what rings throughout is a story of kindness, love, and determination.
Two stories of the troubled country of Sudan intersect in this novel. In 1985, an 11-year-old boy named Salva walks away from his village to escape the war. He joins the thousands of "lost boys," walking across the continent of Africa, searching for their families. In 2008, 11-year-old Nya fetches water from a pond, walking eight hours a day just to get what her family needs. Both tragedies have the same origin, and in an unexpected way, both stories will come together for resolution. With this book, kids will gain new appreciation for the long history of conflict that countries face — and of the power of determined survivors to overcome it.
When 11-year-old Dewey travels to Los Alamos, New Mexico, to live with her mathematician father, she has no idea that the town officially doesn't exist. It's full of scientists and mathematicians from all over, who, like her father, are hard at work on "the gadget." Dewey is more concerned with making a new friend, which takes a while for the small, mechanically inclined girl, but soon she and a girl named Suze grow closer, supporting one another through bullying and their parents' work on the project. Still, when "the gadget" finally gets tested — and Dewey and Suze witness the first test detonation of the Manhattan Project — the world will never be the same. This story of friendship will be unexpectedly suspenseful for young readers who know what the atomic bomb will mean for world history.
The Great Depression has cost Ellie's family almost everything, and their plan to start over in the forests near Echo Mountain turns tragic when her father has a tree-felling accident that leaves him in a coma. Ellie doesn't fear the woods — even though her mother blames Ellie for the accident — and she finds freedom as she takes over many of his chores. When she learns about elderly Cate, a healer that most of the community call "the hag," Ellie wonders if she might be able to help. It turns out that Ellie can help Cate too... and in the process will discover her own healing gifts. Atmospheric and timeless, this book is a powerful story of finding your own path and the ways that compassion can heal a community.
Brigitte does her part to support Adolf Hitler's war, like all good Aryan girls. But she wonders why even simple questions are unwelcome at her League of German Girls meetings. Then a mysterious pamphlet from a group called the White Rose shows up at her house. Her father and older sister, Angelika, seem to agree with the White Rose, but they also seem to think agreeing is dangerous. Brigitte wonders if the White Rose could endanger her entire family... but as she starts to see more of the truths that have been hidden by the Nazi Party, she wonders instead if she has the courage to take a stand. This gripping story about a real-life resistance movement from World War II will make young readers wonder what they would choose in Brigitte's place.
Gloria's hoped the droughts and dust storms were a temporary hardship, but when the banker takes the family farm, Pa tells her the family has to move to California and pick fruit until they can save up enough money to buy land again. They find work at a peach orchard where Gloria and her Pa each set to breaking some rules. Gloria is determined to play on the secret, all-boys baseball team, while Pa is talking to his fellow workers about the dropping wages despite the company rules against organizing. And when Pa gets betrayed as he prepares to lead a strike, it's Gloria's gumption — and her friends on the baseball team — that help save the day. Lyrical and inspiring, this middle grade historical fiction novel is part Sandlot, part Esperanza Rising.
13-year-old Victoria Blaisdell prefers to be called Tory, and chafes at the restrictions on a girl in 1848 Rhode Island. When her father decides to sail west to join the gold rush in California, she stows away on the ship — and to her surprise, discovers that she can find a bit of the freedom she craves in the rough town of San Francisco, dressing like a boy and working odd jobs. But when her younger brother, Jacob, is kidnapped, Tory will be put to the test, hunting through Rotten Row — an area of the bay full of abandoned ships — to find him and bring him home. Newbery Award-winner Avi brings the realities of the Gold Rush — poverty, danger, and crime — to life, all through the eyes of an indomitable heroine readers will love.
12-year-old Trudy is not having a good 1966: her best friend has decided to become (of all things) a cheerleader, her Beatles fan club only consists of the least popular kids at school, and her father still barely pays attention to her. So Trudy sets on a plan that she's sure will win both popularity and her father's love: seeing the Beatles perform in Boston during their last world tour, and finally meeting Paul McCartney. She and her fellow fans set off (without parental permission) on an adventure they all hope will change their lives... Historical details will fascinate young readers, but the meat of this story is an exploration of coming of age and being yourself, no matter what time you live in.
It was a long journey from England to the New World for Alis' family, but they believe they will find a better life on new shores. However, the settlers have found themselves at odds with the local Roanoke tribe, and tensions are rising. In the midst of the conflict, Alis meets and, despite the long odds, befriends a Roanoke girl named Kimi, and the pair becomes as close as sisters. But when the fragile peace between the groups starts to fall apart, Alis will face difficult choices. Inspired by the story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, this novel in verse tells the story from both girls' perspectives, with their voices coming together as their friendship grows. It's a unique work of historical fiction that will give you plenty to discuss after it's done.
Almost two years ago, Meg's father went to fight against the Nazis — and she hasn't seen him since. With the family farm now in Nazi-occupied territory, Meg has already been secretly helping the French Resistance, while also deciphering codes he left in a jar to entertain her while he's gone... a jar that's almost empty. Then Meg stumbles across an injured British spy who tells her that her father could be released from Nazi imprisonment — if she can guide a family of German refugees safely to Spain. To do so, she'll have to untangle the most complicated cipher yet — one that could reveal dangerous secrets that might risk both her mission and her life. Jennifer A. Nielsen, bestselling author of Resistance, has crafted a suspenseful story that will leave readers wondering who Meg can trust to the very end.
When the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explodes in 1986, fifth-grade school rivals Valentina and Oksana are thrown together when they're sent away to safety with Valentine's grandmother, Rita. As the girls wrestle with the grief over the deaths of their fathers, both plant workers, they slowly learn to trust — but they also discover that Rita is secretly practicing Judaism, a difficult fact to swallow for Oksana, who has been taught that all Jews are liars. Still, perhaps their friendship can win out over everything. Told in three perspectives — Oksana and Valentina in 1986, and Rita as the 12-year-old Rivka in 1941 — this poignant novel explores how friendship can defy hatred and prejudice.
13-year-old Bea and her 8-year-old sister are out of options: after the stock market crash of 1929, her dad lost his job, Bea lost her pony, and finally her mother lost her life. Now, Dad's abandoned her and Vivian in a hayloft belonging to Mama's friend from Sweet Briar College, the cantankerous Mrs. Scott. The girls try to stay hidden, but when Bea saves one of Mrs. Scott's horses from colic, Mrs. Scott begrudgingly agrees to take them in. Her own farm is struggling, but if Bea can win the attention of rich buyers at horse shows — by riding a beautiful but dangerous chestnut horse — they might save it together. Bea thinks she understands the chestnut's hurt and fear, and as girl and horse bond, they may both build hope for the future... and a found family. This touching Great Depression story by best-selling author L. M. Elliott will keep kids turning pages to the end.
It's 1958, and twelve-year-old Marlee is struggling: the Governor of Arkansas has shut all high schools to avoid the federal order to integrate schools, so her sister has been sent away so she doesn't miss a year. Always shy, Marlee responds to the chaos by retreating even more... until she meets Liz, the new girl at her middle school. Fearless and determined, Liz knows just what to say to encourage Marlee to find her voice. Then, one day, Liz is gone; rumor has it that she was actually black, and pretending to be white. Liz's friendship helps Marlee understand the damage that segregation does — and the value of fighting it. As racial tensions rise, danger looms for both the girls and their families as they stand up for integration, but their friendship helps them stand strong. Heartfelt and satisfying, this story of friendship and the fight for justice will make young readers cheer.
It's the closing of World War II, and 11-year-old Liesl Wolf's family has been pulled apart. Her father was drafted to serve in Hitler's army, and when the Russian Army marches into their village, she was separated from her mother as they fled. Liesl promised her mother that she would take care of her younger brother, Otto, and baby sister, Mia, and she doesn't dare be caught by the Russians or the Americans. To survive, she — along with hundreds of other parentless children in the woods — will have to forage in the forests: they'll have to become wild. Based on the true story of the German Wolfskinder who were left to fend for themselves in the final days of the war, this is a powerful story of survival, sibling love, and hope.
12-year-old Hallie's family has dwindled to herself and her two brothers, 16-year-old Tom, and 6-year-old Benny, who has Down Syndrome; everyone else has died or left. Their family of three is facing life in rural America in 1933, where the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression have left thousands of people struggling for the necessities of life. A farming family, the Carsons, takes the children in after their car breaks down beyond repair, but will the rest of the community ever welcome them in? Middle grade readers will devour this absorbing story about the search for a better life — and recognize parallels to today's issues.
Sun-hee and her brother Tae-yul live in Japanese-occupied Korea, where their language, the folktales Uncle loves, Sun-hee's beloved diary, and even their own names are forbidden. Despite this, the family maintains a quiet pride in their Korean heritage. When World War II breaks out, Sun-hee is shocked that the Japanese occupiers expect that Koreans will be happy to fight on their side. But Tae-yul feels compelled to enlist to protect the family, who are suspected of helping the Korean resistance. Told in alternating perspectives from the studious Sun-hee and the adventurous Tae-yul, this well-researched novel explores how people respond to oppression and the many quiet forms that resistance can take.
It's 1919, and Rifka and her family are fleeing the brutal treatment that Russian soldiers direct towards Jewish people in their home country. In her dreams, America will be a perfect place. As she travels, Rifka writes letters to a beloved cousin in a book of Alexander Pushkin's poetry, talking about about her experiences — humiliating physical examinations, disease running rampant, terrifying storms that threaten her ship, detainment on Ellis Island, and even the loss of her long, blonde hair. This story, which is based on a real piece of author Karen Hesse's family history, captures the courage and hope that drives refugees (past and present) and the realities of what "coming to America" meant for many.
It's 1844, and 10-year-old Lyddie’s family farm is so deeply in debt that her parents are forced to hire her and her brother out as servants. Lyddie wants her family to be together again, so when she hears about the money a girl can make in the textile mills, it seems like the perfect solution. The working conditions are horrible, but she needs money too much to sign the workers’ petitions, even when her friends start getting sick. Instead, she escapes from her hardships with her new joy — reading. And when she learns that she can never return home, her love of books and learning may provide a new dream: a life of education. This touching novel illuminates both the conditions faced by workers in the past and the power of education to provide a better future.
Sumiko was used to being teased as the only Japanese girl in her class, but after Pearl Harbor, things go from taunts to outright suspicion. Suddenly, she and her family have to leave her beloved home and flower farm for an internment camp in the middle of a hot, barren desert. But Sumiko and her family aren't the only ones facing discrimination: the camp is on a Mohave reservation. At first, the Mohave residents and the Japanese detainees are at odds, but as the get to know one another, they realize that they have much in common — including being viewed as second-class citizens. Through a friendship with Frank, a Mohave boy, and her own garden, Sumiko starts to see hope for a better future. Complex and emotional, this novel will get young adult readers thinking about the divisions we don't always see.
Few who knew Anne Sullivan, the abandoned, half-blind girl with a temper and sharp tongue, would have guessed that she would eventually become the dedicated teacher that accomplished the seemingly impossible: teaching Helen Keller to communicate with the world, despite her blindness and deafness. When Sullivan first arrives, she faces a seemingly insurmountable challenge and a child whose rages are so fierce that her blows knocked out teeth, but she kept her determination — some would say, stubbornness — and faith that she could reach Keller and bring her thoughts to the world. This novel's first-person telling gives the book an immediacy that captures Sullivan's difficult past and her powerful connection to Keller.
12-year-old Anita de la Torre has always felt free in her home of the Dominican Republic. Her parents manage to protect her from the truth of what the Trujillo regime is like, so Anita is still more concerned with her crush on the American boy next door than the question of whether his maid is spying on her family. But as Anita starts to understand the real meaning to the adults' whispers — a plot to assassinate El Jefe, the dictator — the tension starts to rise. Are the risks worth the brutal reprisals the family will suffer if they are discovered? And can Anita and her family finally find a place where they are free? Author Julia Alvarez draws on stories from her cousins and friends who lived through the 1960s in the Dominican Republic to create this suspenseful but ultimately hopeful story.
Asha and Yesofu are best friends despite their differences: girl and boy, Indian and African. But their friendship is tested with Idi Amin's 1972 declaration that Indians have 90 days to leave Uganda. Asha wants to cling to the world she knows, but Yesofu, whose mother is a servant in Asha's home, starts to question if Amin's decision is the right step for a better future: "Don’t [my family] deserve more than being your slaves — don’t I?" he asks Asha. As soldiers line the streets and violence begins to rise, the two friends face difficult questions about nationalism, injustice, and friendship. Told in chapters that alternate between Asha and Yesofu, this heartwrenching yet ultimately hopeful book is all too timely.
Katie Takeshima’s sister Lynn is the one who makes everything seem brighter, whether she's pointing out the simple things like the light on the ocean, or helping Katie with the challenges of being the only Japanese family in a 1950s Deep South town. But when Lynn becomes seriously ill, the job of making everything kira-kira — glittering and shining — falls to Katie. And when Lynn dies, Katie is determined to honor her sisters memory by making kira-kira a part of her life forever. This powerful story of optimism and sisterhood also captures the many challenges faced by immigrants in recent times.
12-year-old Audra lives on a quiet family farm in 1893 Lithuania, but her world is turned upside down when occupying Russian Cossack soldiers arrest her parents and burn their home to the ground. Her parents send her to escape, carrying an important package: unbeknownst to her, they have been working as book smugglers, fighting to keep their language and culture alive after the Russian Czar made it a crime to speak or write in Lithuania. Audra soon joins the resistance movement, risking her life to smuggle even more books before they are burned by the Russians. Still, she wonders if her work for the resistance might not just save her language; perhaps it can save her parents too. In Words on Fire, Jennifer A. Nielsen, the author of A Night Divided and Resistance, introduces readers to this little-known period in history through the inspiring story of a courageous girl determined to fight against oppression.
In Greenwood, Mississippi in 1964, the adults all say they're "being invaded" — by people from up north coming to help voter registrations in something called the Freedom Summer. At first, Sunny doesn't even worry about that; she's caught up in her own invasion, a new stepmother and siblings pushing their way into her life. But a moment at a public pool opens her eyes to the racism that pervades her hometown, and soon Sunny is trying to figure out how she too can fight for what's right and fair. Real source materials — including an actual KKK pamphlet from the time period — drive home the viciousness that civil rights campaigners faced during the time period. Deborah Wiles, award-winning author of Countdown, tells a riveting story of kids who, in a world where everyone is choosing sides, must figure out how to stand up for themselves and fight for what's right.
At first, Lida believes that she and her family are safe from the Nazis since they aren't Jewish. However, the Ukrainian girl can't escape the horrors of World War II. Lida is rounded up with other youth and sent to a brutal labor camp where she and other children will be forced to make German bombs until they drop. There, Lida comes up with a daring plan: sabotage the bombs. Her friends are eager to join her secret resistance, but if their deception is discovered, they'll surely be executed. Nevertheless, the chance to do their own, small part to end the war is too important to waste. Based on the real-life experience of countless Ukrainian and other Central and Eastern European children who were among the estimated 3 to 5 million Ostarbeiters (or "Eastern workers") used as slave labor in Nazi work camps, this historical fiction novel is not too graphic for younger readers, but still captures both the horrors of the camps and the courage of people like Lida who found ways to fight back against Nazi oppression.
It's 1291, and Catherine — known as Birdy — is 14, so she should be married soon... at least, according to her father. But Shaggy Beard, as Birdy calls her suitor in her diary, is disgusting, and she has no intention of becoming a perfect Medieval lady. Birdy's brother Edward has demanded she start writing a journal as practice, and as her fourteenth year goes on, it goes from being a resented assignment to a cherished opportunity to observe her world, explore her own feelings, and dream about what could be. This funny novel with a likeable main character is full of details about the not-so-glamorous life of Medieval times. Fans of this novel will also want to check out The Midwife's Apprentice by the same author.
It's 1881, and Anna's Irish family is in dire straights: English aristocrats have been raising rents and seizing Irish properties, turning families out when the crops are poor. Her older siblings have emigrated, so when Anna's mother dies, she uses her last breath to beg her to care for her developmentally delayed sister Nuala — and to urge Anna to learn to read. And when an encounter with English bailiffs turns violent, Anna finds herself on the run with Nuala, desperate to save her family. This poignant novel in verse will introduce young readers to the aftermath of the Great Famine through the eyes of one determined girl.
It’s taken love and determination for 9-year-old Cassie’s family to protect her from the realities of racism and violence in the 1930s Deep South. But when night riders start threatening African-Americans in her community, the truth can’t be hidden any longer. Cassie will have to harden her heart, but in the process, she’ll gain new perspective on her father’s deep attachment to the precious land they own. Set in Depression-Era Mississippi, this stunning novel tshows prejudice and violence through the eyes of an innocent, but it's primarily a story of one family's pride, integrity, and love for one another. Cassie's story continues in Let The Circle Be Unbroken and The Road to Memphis, and in the long-awaited conclusion to the saga, All the Days Past, All the Days to Come.
When the Taliban, an authoritarian Islamic fundamentalist regime, takes control of Afghanistan, Parvana, her mother, and sisters suddenly can't go to school, work outside the home, or even appear in public without being covered. When her father is arrested because of his foreign education, the family is soon in dire straights. So Parvana takes a bold step: she cuts her hair, disguises herself as a boy, and sets off to earn money. The first volume in a series about living under Taliban oppression — and after it — is suspenseful and all too timely, even years after it was written. You can find more volumes of Parvana's story in The Breadwinner Series, including a stunning new addition set after the Taliban regained power in 2021, One More Mountain.; the book has also been adapted into an acclaimed animated film.
When the Nazis push the occupying Soviet soldiers out of Krystia's Ukrainian village in 1941, the villagers rejoice; surely the Germans are here to help. They certainly don't think there are any implications to their friends' and neighbors' mix of Polish, Jewish, and Ukrainian backgrounds. But as the Nazis' intentions become horrifyingly clear — first when the Poles and Ukrainians are deemed fit only for work, and then with a mass shooting of 101 Jewish men — Krystia faces a terrible choice: will she protect her friends and neighbors however she can, even at risk of losing everything? Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, author of Making Bombs for Hitler and Stolen Girl, based this immediate and gripping story on the real experiences of a World War II survivor. There is also a companion novel about Krystia's sister, Maria, Trapped in Hitler's Web.
Even Annabelle's small Pennsylvania town has been touched by the two world wars that ravaged the world, but day to day life there has been quiet until the day a new student, Betty Glengarry, comes to her school. Betty is cruel and delights in bullying the vulnerable people around her — including reclusive World War I veteran Toby. Annabelle knows that Toby is kind, but the other people in town see nothing but his odd behavior. As Betty agitates the town against Toby, Annabelle will have to find the courage to be a voice of justice... even if she's standing alone. This poignant novel asks questions about right and wrong, as well as how the dark parts of history mark us all. Annabelle's story continues in the sequel, My Own Lightning.
13-year-old Charlotte boards the Seahawk as a prim, proper schoolgirl, but gets off it having survived a mutiny, taken command — and been accused of murder. This story, set in 1832, captures how Charlotte changes from an arrogant, privileged, and naive member of the upper class to a daring, determined, seagoing young woman. Along the way, she proves herself to the Seahawk’s crew by showing she can do anything a man can do. But when she arrives at her destination, will her family believe her story — and will she be able to return to the restrictive life of an upper-class young lady? A thrilling adventure full of twists and turns, this book will leave readers dreaming of days on the stormy seas.
Celeste’s childhood in Chile is idyllic until warships appear in the harbor. The country’s new government calls artists, protesters, and those who help the needy “subversive” and vows to eliminate them. Some of Celeste’s classmates stop coming to school, and soon Celeste begins to feel that no one is safe. Celeste’s parents realize they need to go into hiding, and they send Celeste to her aunt in Maine. Celeste must learn to cope with being exiled from the country and family she loves, and also with the fear that no one, anywhere, can truly be safe. Set during Augusto Pinochet's takeover of Chile in the 1970s, this powerful novel reveals the harsh realities of living under a dictator through one young girl's eyes.
Twelve-year-old Nisha is half-Muslim, half-Hindu, and in 1947, when Pakistan and India have just separated, she feels like she doesn't know where she belongs. After losing her mother as a baby, she's desperate to cling to the familiar. But when her father decides it's too dangerous to stay in Pakistan, Nisha and her family set out as refugees in search of a new home, first by train and then on foot. It's long and dangerous travel, but Nisha still believes that the future will be bright. In a series of letters to her mother, Nisha relates her journey and explores the search for home, identity, and hope.
10-year-old Ada has never left her family's one-bedroom apartment; her abusive mother considers her clubbed foot a humiliation and has kept her from public view her entire life. But when Ada’s little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the dangers of World War II, Ada takes the greatest risk of her life and sneaks out to join him. Susan Smith, the recluse who’s forced to take the siblings in, doesn’t know anything about children — especially girls who flinch at every mistake. But as the pair grow closer, perhaps Ada has finally found someone that she can trust to love her just as she is. This touching 2015 Newbery Honor novel is part adventure, part search for identity; fans of Ada will enjoy watching her continue to blossom in the sequel, The War I Finally Won.
Auma's love of running might be the ticket to a better future: the young Kenyan track star hopes her athletic skill can help earn her a scholarship to attend high school and maybe even university. But there is a strange new sickness called AIDS in her country... and when her father gets sick, Auma has a difficult choice to make. If she leaves home, her struggling family will lose her help — but if she stays, she can never become a doctor, something that might allow her to help people around the world. Author Eucabeth Odhiambo draws on her experiences at the beginning of Kenya's AIDS crisis to create this story about the power of education. For another book that tackles the African AIDS pandemic, check out The Heaven Shop for ages 10 to 14.
Esperanza grew up in privilege in Mexico, but when her father is killed by bandits shortly before her thirteenth birthday, she and her mother flee to America. In Depression-era California, no one cares about the elegant life Esperanza remembers: she’s just a farm worker, good for nothing but hard labor. But as Esperanza struggles with poverty, racism, and grief, a spirit of labor organization is blossoming around her. Hope is coming both for Esperanza and for the workers around her struggling to get by. This Pura Belpre Award-winning novel stars a courageous girl determined to find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances.
Corlie's life on a farm in South Africa is difficult: the heat of the Transvaal is intense, and when her beloved father dies, she's left at the mercy of her cruel mother. She takes comfort in a friendship and in the beauty of the natural world around her. But when the British invade and starting forcing Boer families like hers off their land, things get desperate. Although she and her family try to escape, they find themselves rounded up in an internment camp where conditions are poor and starvation and disease run rampant. Fortunately, a chance encounter with a kind Canadian soldier offers a chance for survival — and hope. Kids who are unfamiliar with the Boer War will be intrigued to learn more through Corlie's eyes.
13 year-old Isabel is a slave living in New York City at the time of the Revolutionary War. Her previous owner promised her and her sister their release upon his death, but instead, they've found themselves in the hands of a malicious couple who mistreat them. Their new home, though, brings Isabel into contact with Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots who asks Isabel to help him spy on her owners for details about the British invasion plans. Isabel is hesitant at first, but wen the unthinkable happens to her sister, Isabel realizes that freedom is worth the risk. This powerful novel, the winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction and a National Book Award Finalist, is the first book in a trilogy; you can find all three novels in The Seeds of America box set.
Liesel is a foster child living outside Munich in the midst of World War II Germany; she ekes out survival by stealing what she can. But one day she steals a book, and after her foster father reads it to her, her mind is opened to a vast, new world — one that helps her manage the fear and grief she’s living with every day. Soon she is determined to learn to read herself... and to share her stolen words with her neighbors, her friends, and the Jewish refugee hiding in the family’s basement. Young adult readers will imagine what it was like to live in a world where reading certain books during a bombing raid was a secret worth dying for, and, as Liesel does, will recognize books for what they truly are: treasure. Fans of the book can also check out the live action movie adaptation for ages 13 and up.
Sophia Calderwood joins the American Revolution after she witnesses the execution of Nathan Hale in 1776 — even though she finds herself falling in love with British officer John André. Despite her feelings for André, she's driven to fight the British in any way she can, and takes a job as a maid in General Clinton's home so that she can spy for the Patriots. But when Sophia learns that a high-ranking American officer is involved in a treasonous plot against the revolution, she realizes that no one will believe her. Unless she can find proof, she must stop the plot herself. This action-packed novel, full of historical detail, captures Sophia's conflict between loyalties to family, love, and country.
Even in the desperate times of World War II, a would-be pilot could face both sex and racial discrimination. Ida Mae Jones’ father was a pilot, and she dreams of following in his footsteps, but young black women in 1940s Louisiana do not learn to fly. When the US Army announces the formation of the Women Airforce Service Pilots — WASP — program, Ida Mae has a chance to follow her dream — if she uses her light skin to pretend to be white. Ida Mae’s choice about whether to deny her identity and her family is superimposed on the exciting, suspenseful story of the WASP experience, giving the reader a fascinating glimpse into life as a black woman who yearns for the sky.
Francie Nolan's life in turn-of-the-century Brooklyn is full of drama, thanks to an alcoholic, a mother hardened by poverty, and an aunt who scandalizes the neighborhood wit her serial love affairs. The quiet, imaginative girl begins with the small dreams of childhood, like pennies to spent on candy, but as she grows, she hopes for a college education. The realities of life in a Brooklyn slum, though, mean that she has to go to work at age 14 instead. Young readers will be amazed at how different Francie's life is from their own — and also at the universal experiences that coming of age brings, no matter what the time and place.
In a Southern US town, 8-year-old Scout Finch grows up carefree — until her father becomes involved in the legal defense of a black man accused of raping a white woman. Caught up in her own summer games and explorations (including efforts to sneak a look at the town bogeyman, Boo Radley), Scout doesn't fully understand why her father's decision is considered so shocking. But as the trial comes to a head, through the eyes of a child, the reader sees the worst of Maycomb — racism, violence, and injustice — but also the best — compassion, determination, and, above all, the importance of standing up for what you believe is right. Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is the perfect opening to talk about prejudice, hope, and the importance of empathy.
14-year-old Joan Skraggs adores reading, but once her father forces her to quit school to cook and clean for him and her brothers, they're hard to come by. After her father burns the few precious books she owns, Joan decides to run away and work as a hired girl in a city. She finds herself in Baltimore, working as a maid for a Jewish family who are warm, kind, and appreciative of everything that education has to offer. But even with six dollars a week in wages will Joan be able to build the future that she’s always dreamed of and, most importantly, finally have a chance to continue her education? In this award-winning novel, Laura Amy Schlitz creates a vivid and authentic character who makes a few impetuous mistakes but never stops imagining big things for herself.
12-year-old Sylvia is an honor student who is both thrilled and scared to be selected as one of the students to integrate Central High School in 1957 Little Rock. Unlike her older brother, she doesn't want to be a hero; she just wants a chance to learn. And as the racism in Little Rock explodes — and even members of Sylvia's own community speak out against integration — Sylvia starts to wonder if she would be better off in the black-only school, focusing on getting to college instead of changing the world. In addition to its unflinching look at the realities of being the ones to desegregate a school, this book challenges young adult readers to consider how their decisions shape the future.
In 1942 Nazi-occupied Poland, Jewish teenager Chaya Lindner is determined to fight the evil destroying her life... even in the face of overwhelming odds. She escapes the Kraków Ghetto where her family is imprisoned and joins the Jewish resistance as a courier. She learns about a planned uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto to fight Nazis' efforts to transport the remaining survivors of the ghetto to death camps. Like her fellow resisters, Chaya knows that there is no possibility that they will 'win' this fight, but they hope to save as many lives as possible, and to live — or die — on their own terms. This powerful historical fiction novel by the author of A Night Divided about the largest single revolt by Jews during WWII explores the Holocaust from the rarely-discussed perspective of Jewish resistance fighters through the story of one heroic young woman.
Valka is determined to help the World War II effort in her home country of Russia, and she knows that her piloting skills are up to the challenge. So when an all-female aviation unit is created, she's quick to sign up. As Valka faces the realities of combat, though, she starts to see how much the war is destroying — including its effects on her childhood friend, who is fighting for his life on the front lines. Valka will decide how much she's willing to risk for the country she once called home. Based on the history of the Soviet Night Witch women pilots, this thrilling historical novel is a true page-turner. For another novel about these daring women, check out Night Witches: A Novel of World War II — or, for a non-fiction look at their story, see A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II.
As a teen, Sophie Scholl grew disillusioned by the propaganda of Nazi Germany and decided she could no longer be silently complicit in supporting a tyrannical regime. Sophie and her brother formed a non-violent resistance group called the White Rose and began distributing anonymous leaflets calling on their fellow Germans to oppose the Nazis. Betrayed to the Gestapo, Sophie and her brother were arrested for treason, interrogated, and executed mere hours after a show trial. Today, they are honored among Germany's greatest heroes for their moral courage. This powerful novel-in-verse honors Sophie's courage and others like her who gave their lives in the fight against fascism.
Clara Lemlich comes to the US looking for a better life and discovers that immigrants — particularly female immigrants — are denied the education and fair pay they need to achieve that life. But Clara refuses to accept her designated place: “Inside I am anything/ but fresh off the boat./ I have been ready for this/ possibility/ all my life,” she declares. She organizes a women’s union, and soon her voice is joined by thousands of others during the Uprising of the 20,000, the largest walkout of female workers in US history. This compelling, gorgeously told novel in verse about a key figure from labor history celebrates those who are audacious enough to say, "No more."
In World War II England, two young women become unlikely friends. One is a pilot, a new member of Britain's Air Transport Auxiliary; one is a spy, destined to assist the resistance in France. When one woman has to eject from their malfunctioning plane and is captured by the Gestapo, she steels herself for the brutality of an interrogation. But do they have the pilot, or the spy? And will Verity manage to keep Britain's secrets, or does her capture risk everything? Readers will devour this suspenseful and richly detailed book... and then go back to the beginning to look for the hints and clues they missed on the first read. Fans of this book will want to check out the companion novel, Rose Under Fire, and the prequel, The Pearl Thief.
Six years ago, Hằng tried to escape the Vietnam War with her brother, Linh; instead, American soldiers took him on board their plane and left her behind. After a brutal journey and time in a refugee camp, Hằng has finally made it to Texas and she's determined to find Linh. On the way, she meets LeeRoy, a would-be cowboy who drives her to Linh's adopted home — only for Hằng to discover that Linh doesn't remember her or Vietnam. Hằng refuses to give up on her brother, though, and LeeRoy won't leave her. As Hằng struggles with her trauma and her guilt about her brother, she and LeeRoy find their relationship evolving in ways neither expected. This powerful YA novel by the author of Inside Out & Back Again explores loyalty, family, and the deep impressions war leaves on its innocent victims.
Peggy Schuyler is used to being overshadowed by her two older sisters, brilliant Angelica and kind and beautiful Eliza. Even when George Washington's aide-de-camp, Alexander Hamilton, contacts her, it's just to find out how to woo Eliza. But Peggy and Alexander become fast friends, and as her father and Alexander take on important roles in the Revolutionary War, she decides she can't sit on the sidelines. Soon, she's helping her father gather intelligence — and when British Loyalists storm the Schuyler home, it will take all of Peggy's courage and cleverness to win the day. Inspired by the musical Hamilton and backed up by in-depth research, Elliott has crafted a thrilling new historical novel that highlights a daring, brave, and loyal young woman and her world-changing friendship.
In 1849, Samantha's dreams of moving to New York to be a professional musician seem out of reach: how can a girl, let alone a Chinese-American girl, achieve such a thing? But after a family tragedy and an incident that leaves her on the run from the law and fearing for her life, those dreams are the last thing on her mind. With the help of Annamae, a runaway slave, Samantha head for the Oregon Trail, where the newfound friends disguise themselves as boys for protection. With the law closing in on them, but some unexpected allies in their corner, the girls will have to fight for their safety and their freedom.
Lina is a gifted artist, but her life is like any other girl's in 1941 Lithuania — until the night that Soviet officers break into their house, separate their family, and send her, her mother, and her little brother to a work camp in Siberia. The cramped and long train ride is nothing compared to the brutal conditions there, where they're forced to farm despite miserable hunger. And yet Lina's art sustains her, not just by giving her hope, but also because it allows her to document what is happening — even if that comes with tremendous risk. Few children will know about the 20 million estimated deaths under Stalin's rule; Lina's story brings them to vibrant life. For a book for younger readers about the Siberian camps, check out The Endless Steppe for ages 10 and up.
18-year-old Zofia is struggling to heal her body and rebuild her mind after liberation from Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945. Three years ago, everyone in her family except her brother, Abek, as sent to the gas ovens; now, she can't remember the last time she saw Abek, but she knows she promised to find him. At a displaced persons camp, she meets others like her, trying to find a life after the horrors of the Holocaust, and even starts to feel like she could love someone again. But Zofia's trauma makes her memory unreliable, and she begins to wonder what exactly she will discover if she can put the pieces together. This stunning historical mystery by award-winning author Monica Hesse explores how the Holocaust affected survivors — and the incredible ability of humanity to overcome evil.
Mercy Wong has "bossy cheeks" according to her Chinese fortuneteller mother, which make her ambitious and bold. It's 1906 in San Francisco, and she dreams of escaping the poverty of Chinatown, which the white residents of the city sneeringly call "Pigtail Alley." She manages to gain entrance to the prestigious St. Clare's School for Girls under pretense of being a Chinese heiress, and she thinks the hardest part will be avoiding the scrutiny of the headmistress. But when the city is struck down by an earthquake, Mercy's talent at leadership will help her schoolmates survive in the aftermath. This evocative novel by the author of Under A Painted Sky will leave readers questioning what they would do in the face of such a disaster.
15-year-old Frannie Tasker is desperately seeking an escape form her home in the Bahamas — and the brutal stepfather who's demanding she marry him now that her mother has died. When she finds the body of Emmeline Coates, a New York socialite, after a shipwreck, she takes her chance and assumes Emmeline's identity. For three years, she enjoys Manhattan living and a courtship with a British officer. But as the Revolutionary War heats up, she takes on a new identity: "355," a spy for George Washington's Culper spy ring. She's already gambled by taking on Emmeline's name; can she continue to beat the odds and help her new nation fight for freedom? This thrilling historical drama, inspired by the real "355," stars a daring, courageous woman who's willing to risk it all for liberty.
Julie dreamed of attending college with her best friend Lauren, but since she had to sacrifice college savings to save her family home, she finds herself working while Lauren makes plans to leave without her. Then the friends make an unusual discovery: a thrift store painting that glows in the dark, revealing a second image. Julie becomes obsessed with the painting — and the artist, who only signed L.G. — and she drags Lauren along seeking answers. Along the way, she'll learn about the Radium Girls, who used radioactive materials to paint the first glow in the dark paintings... and paid a terrible price. Told in alternating chapters of Julie's perspectives and letters from the Radium Girl artist, this is an engaging mystery based on a little-known and horrifying true piece of history.
17-year-old Jo Kuan just wants to keep herself and her adoptive father, two of the few Chinese Americans in 1890s Atlanta, safe — even if it means a job as an abused lady's maid. When she learns that the local newspaper needs someone to write an advice column, she applies anonymously and becomes "Miss Sweetie." Her column gives her an opportunity to challenge stereotypes, but that inevitably brings backlash. And when a letter to Miss Sweetie hints at the identities of the parents who abandoned Jo as a baby, she has to decide if the search — which includes seeking help from a notorious criminal — is worth exposing herself. Stacey Lee, the critically-acclaimed author of Under a Painted Sky, explores identity and the effects of discrimination on marginalized people.
In 1942 Warsaw, Mira's Jewish family is struggling through dire circumstances. Her father is dead, and her brother has joined the Jewish Police, leaving Mira, her mother, and her sister to survive alone in the Ghetto. So far, Mira has managed to smuggle in enough food to keep them alive, but when she learns the Ghetto is going to be "liquidated," she's not sure what to do. Then she discovers that a group of young people are planning an uprising against the Germans — and joins the resistance. They will stand against the Nazis as long as they can... twenty-eight days. This fictionalized telling of the real Warsaw Ghetto uprising is a brutal but empowering reminder that, no matter what the end result, there is hope for resistance.
It's 1941, and 14-year-old Frankie and her siblings are "half-orphans": children given to orphanages by parents who are struggling financially. Unknown to Frankie, though, someone is watching her: the narrator, Pearl, the ghost of a girl who died not much older than Frankie is. As Frankie explores an illicit romance, Pearl meditates on her own past — and both stories illuminate injustice, poverty, and the cruelty directed towards girls and women. Set during a tumultuous period as the final remnants of the Great Depression gave way to World War II, this absorbing, supernaturally tinged novel — a finalist for the National Book Award — brilliantly tells the story of these two young women, disconnected by time yet connected by the shared desire to live their lives freely and fully no matter the costs.
On November 25, 1960, three sisters were found dead in the Dominican Republic, next to a wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a cliff. The state newspaper reported their "accidental" deaths, but many readers knew the truth: Minerva, Patria, and Maria Teresa Mirabal were Las Mariposas — The Butterflies — vocal opponents of Rafael Trujillo's dictatorship. In this extraordinary novel of courage and love, the voices of all three sisters, as well as their surviving sister, Dede, speak across the decades to tell their own stories, from hair ribbons and secret crushes to gunrunning and prison torture, and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo's authoritarian rule and the human cost of political oppression.