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60 Mighty Girl Historical Fiction Novels for Tweens and Teens

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

Ruth and the Night of the Broken Glass

A World War II Survival Story

Ruth and the Night of the Broken Glass

A World War II Survival Story

Written by: Emma Carlson Berne
Illustrated by: Matt Forsyth
Recommended Age: 8 - 11

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 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.

Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter

Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter

Written by: Beth Fantaskey
Recommended Age: 9 - 12

In 1920s Chicago, Isabel is the only girl selling copies of the Tribune on the street corner. But she's got bigger dreams: in fact, Isabel wants to be a news reporter, just like her idol, Maude Collier. So at first she's thrilled when she stumbles across Collier at a real-live murder scene... until the police accuse an innocent friend. Now, instead of devoting her time to the news, Isabel has to turn her investigative skills to solving the mystery of the real killer! With short, cliffhanger chapters and an atmosphere crackling with guns, gangsters, and 1920s reality and glamour, this is a middle-grade historical mystery she'll find hard to put down.

Blue Skies
New!

Blue Skies
New!

Written by: Anne Bustard
Recommended Age: 9 - 12

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 — and 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.

Inside Out and Back Again

Inside Out and Back Again

Written by: Thanhhà Lại
Recommended Age: 9 and up

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 Be

Glory Be

Written by: Augusta Scattergood
Recommended Age: 9 and up

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.

The Color of My Words

The Color of My Words

Written by: Lynn Joseph
Recommended Age: 9 - 12

Ana Rosa is a budding writer — but in the authoritarian Dominican Republic, 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.

Number the Stars

Number the Stars

Written by: Lois Lowry
Recommended Age: 9 and up

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.

Ahimsa

Ahimsa

Written by: Supriya Kelkar
Recommended Age: 9 - 12

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.

Journey to the River Sea

Journey to the River Sea

Written by: Eva Ibbotson
Illustrated by: Kevin Hawkes
Recommended Age: 9 - 12

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.

Out of Left Field

Out of Left Field

Written by: Ellen Klages
Recommended Age: 9 - 12

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.

The Quilt Walk

The Quilt Walk

Written by: Sandra Dallas
Recommended Age: 9 - 12

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.

Maroo of the Winter Caves

Maroo of the Winter Caves

Written by: Ann Turnbull
Recommended Age: 9 - 12

Maroo and her family live a peaceful life at the end of the last Ice Age — but danger is always around the corner. 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, Maroo faces the decision about whether to go on without him — and the fear that, if she ends up confronting a fierce mountain spirit, she'll be forced to do it alone. This modern classic survival story has thrilled students for over 20 years.

Listening for Lions

Listening for Lions

Written by: Gloria Whelan
Recommended Age: 9 - 12

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.

One Crazy Summer

One Crazy Summer

Written by: Rita Williams-Garcia
Recommended Age: 9 - 13

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.

May B.

May B.

Written by: Caroline Starr Rose
Recommended Age: 9 and up

Mavis Elizabeth Betterly — May B. for short — struggles at school because of dyslexia, and at home because a girl is far less useful on the 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 sod house without help — she'll have to find her own way to survive... and make her way home. Told in verse, May's story is tense and lyrical, full of both gritty realism about life on the prairie and hints of the hope that sustains her.

Fever 1793

Fever 1793

Written by: Laurie Halse Anderson
Recommended Age: 10 and up

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.

A Place To Belong

A Place To Belong

Written by: Cynthia Kadohata
Illustrated by: Julia Kuo
Recommended Age: 10 and up

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.

Escape From Aleppo

Escape From Aleppo

Written by: N. H. Senzai
Recommended Age: 9 - 13

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.

Out Of The Dust

Out Of The Dust

Written by: Karen Hesse
Recommended Age: 9 - 13

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.

Journey to Jo'burg: A South African Story

Journey to Jo'burg: A South African Story

Written by: Beverley Naidoo
Illustrated by: Eric Velasquez
Recommended Age: 9 - 13

While Mma works for a white household as a maid 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. 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 in this searing novel.

The Birchbark House

The Birchbark House

Written by: Louise Erdrich
Recommended Age: 9 - 13

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.

Orphan Train Girl

Orphan Train Girl

Written by: Christina Baker Kline
Recommended Age: 9 - 13

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.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Written by: Jacqueline Kelly
Recommended Age: 9 - 13

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.

A Night Divided

A Night Divided

Written by: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Recommended Age: 9 - 13

When the Berlin Wall went up, it split Gerta's family in two: her father and middle brother, who had gone west to look for work, are on one side; Gerta, her mother, and her other brother are on the other, under Soviet control. Now Gerta is growing up with East German soldiers pointing guns at their own citizens to keep them from looking over the wall. 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 consequences in search of freedom? The unique setting of this novel also invites kids to ponder what happens if we don't remember history.

Night on Fire

Night on Fire

Written by: Ronald Kidd
Recommended Age: 9 - 13

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. The Freedom Riders will resume their ride to Montgomery and Billie is now faced with a choice: stand idly by in silence or take a stand for what she believes in.

Daring Darleen, Queen of the Screen
New!

Daring Darleen, Queen of the Screen
New!

Written by: Anne Nesbet
Recommended Age: 9 - 13

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!

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

Recommended Age: 9 - 13

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 will get kids thinking about society's tendency — in both the past and the present — to fear and hate the different.

The Mighty Miss Malone

The Mighty Miss Malone

Recommended Age: 9 - 13

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.

A Long Walk to Water

A Long Walk to Water

Written by: Linda Sue Park
Recommended Age: 9 - 14

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.

The Green Glass Sea

The Green Glass Sea

Written by: Ellen Klages
Recommended Age: 9 and up

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.

Echo Mountain
New!

Echo Mountain
New!

Written by: Lauren Wolk
Recommended Age: 10 - 13

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.

Gold Rush Girl
New!

Gold Rush Girl
New!

Written by: Avi
Recommended Age: 10 - 13

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.

She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)

She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)

Written by: Ann Hood
Recommended Age: 10 - 13

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.

Blue Birds

Blue Birds

Written by: Caroline Starr Rose
Recommended Age: 10 - 13

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.

The Blackbird Girls
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The Blackbird Girls
New!

Written by: Anne Blankman
Recommended Age: 10 - 13

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.

The Lions of Little Rock

The Lions of Little Rock

Written by: Kristin Levine
Recommended Age: 10 - 13

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.

Someplace to Call Home

Someplace to Call Home

Written by: Sandra Dallas
Recommended Age: 10 - 13

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.

When My Name Was Keoko: A Novel of Korea in World War II

When My Name Was Keoko: A Novel of Korea in World War II

Written by: Linda Sue Park
Recommended Age: 10 - 14

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.

Letters from Rifka

Letters from Rifka

Written by: Karen Hesse
Recommended Age: 10 - 14

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.

Lyddie

Lyddie

Written by: Katherine Paterson
Recommended Age: 10 - 14

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.

Weedflower

Weedflower

Written by: Cynthia Kadohata
Recommended Age: 10 - 14

Although Sumiko was used to being teased as the only Japanese girl in her class in California, she always had her family's beautiful flower farm to go home to. After Pearl Harbor, though, Japanese people, even those born in the US, are considered suspect. Sumiko's family is ordered to travel to an internment camp, and she finds herself in one of the country's hottest deserts, where nothing grows. She soon learns that they are as unwanted there as they were at home: the camp is on an Indian reservation. But when she meets a young Mohave boy, she wonders if friendship might be able to grow in the desert too.

Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller

Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller

Written by: Sarah Miller
Recommended Age: 10 - 14

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.

Before We Were Free

Before We Were Free

Written by: Julia Alvarez
Recommended Age: 10 - 14

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.

Orange for the Sunsets

Orange for the Sunsets

Written by: Tina Athaide
Recommended Age: 10 - 14

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.

Kira-Kira

Kira-Kira

Written by: Cynthia Kadohata
Recommended Age: 10 - 14

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.

Words On Fire

Words On Fire

Written by: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Recommended Age: 10 and up

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 burn her parents' home to the ground. Her parents send her to escape, carrying an important package: unbeknownst to her, they have been helping Lithuanian book smugglers keep their language and culture alive. Now, as a member of the resistance movement, Audra can help smuggle even more books, using her magician father's tricks as a means to distract those who would catch her and her friends. Still, she wonders if her work for the resistance might not just save her language; perhaps it can save her parents too. Jennifer A. Nielsen, author of A Night Divided and Resistance, creates a compelling story about a little-known time in history that reminds readers about the power of united resistance.

Revolution

Revolution

Written by: Deborah Wiles
Recommended Age: 10 and up

All the adults say that Greenwood, Mississippi, is being "invaded" in the summer of 1964: invaded by people coming from the North to help African Americans register to vote. 13-year-old Sunny's biggest worry at the start of the Freedom Summer is her own little invasion: the new stepmother and siblings crowding her home and her life. But through a series of unexpected events, Sunny discovers she needs — and wants — to figure out how can she stand up for herself and fight for what is right. It gets even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool — where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs. This documentary novel, a finalist for the National Book Award, intersperses Civil Rights era-photos, posters, and news clippings throughout. Deborah Wiles, award-winning author of Countdown, uses these materials to tell 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.

Making Bombs for Hitler

Making Bombs for Hitler

Recommended Age: 10 and up

At first, Lida believes that she and her family are safe from the Nazi regime, since they aren't Jewish — but her perception doesn't last. Nazi soldiers send Lida to a work camp, where she and other Ukrainian children will be worked making munitions until they drop. Lida comes up with a daring plan: sabotage the bombs. She and the other children set to work, but if they are discovered, their deaths will come that much sooner... Based on the real-life experience of countless Ukrainian and other Central and Eastern European children who were used as slave labor in Nazi work camps, this historical fiction novel captures the realities of the camps and the courage of those who resisted without being too graphic for younger readers. For another gripping historical fiction novel by the same author, this one about the Nazis' Lebensborn program, check out Stolen Girl.

Catherine, Called Birdy

Catherine, Called Birdy

Written by: Karen Cushman
Recommended Age: 10 and up

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.

A Slip Of A Girl

A Slip Of A Girl

Written by: Patricia Reilly Giff
Recommended Age: 10 and up

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.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Written by: Mildred D. Taylor
Recommended Age: 10 and up

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.

The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner

Written by: Deborah Ellis
Recommended Age: 10 and up

When the Taliban 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 life under the Taliban regime — and after it — is suspenseful and all too timely, even years after it was written. The series continues with Parvana's Journey and Mud City, which are also collected in a single volume in The Breadwinner Trilogy, and in My Name is Parvana; the book has also been adapted into an acclaimed animated film.

Don't Tell The Nazis

Don't Tell The Nazis

Recommended Age: 10 and up

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.

Wolf Hollow

Wolf Hollow

Written by: Lauren Wolk
Recommended Age: 10 and up

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.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Written by: Avi
Recommended Age: 10 and up

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.

I Lived on Butterfly Hill

I Lived on Butterfly Hill

Written by: Marjorie Agosin
Illustrated by: Lee White
Recommended Age: 10 and up

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 in Pinochet's Chile of the 1970s, this novel reveals the turmoil of dictatorship and the harsh treatment of dissenters through Celeste’s eyes.

The Night Diary

The Night Diary

Written by: Veera Hiranandani
Recommended Age: 10 and up

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.

The War That Saved My Life

The War That Saved My Life

Recommended Age: 10 and up

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 Long Run

Auma's Long Run

Written by: Eucabeth Odhiambo
Recommended Age: 10 and up

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 Rising

Esperanza Rising

Written by: Pam Munoz Ryan
Recommended Age: 10 and up

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.

Stones for My Father

Stones for My Father

Written by: Trilby Kent
Recommended Age: 11 and up

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.

Chains

Chains

Written by: Laurie Halse Anderson
Recommended Age: 11 and up

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.

The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Written by: Markus Zusak
Recommended Age: 12 and up

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.

Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution

Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution

Written by: Avi
Recommended Age: 12 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.

Flygirl

Flygirl

Written by: Sherri L. Smith
Recommended Age: 12 and up

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.

To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird

Written by: Harper Lee
Recommended Age: 12 and up

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.

The Hired Girl

The Hired Girl

Written by: Laura Amy Schlitz
Recommended Age: 12 and up

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.

Fire From The Rock

Fire From The Rock

Written by: Sharon Draper
Recommended Age: 12 and up

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.

Resistance

Resistance

Written by: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Recommended Age: 12 and up

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.

Among the Red Stars

Among the Red Stars

Written by: Gwen C. Katz
Recommended Age: 13 and up

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.

White Rose

White Rose

Written by: Kip Wilson
Recommended Age: 13 and up

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.

Audacity

Audacity

Written by: Melanie Crowder
Recommended Age: 13 and up

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."

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity

Written by: Elizabeth Wein
Recommended Age: 13 and up

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.

Butterfly Yellow

Butterfly Yellow

Written by: Thanhhà Lại
Recommended Age: 13 and up

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.

Lies We Tell Ourselves

Lies We Tell Ourselves

Written by: Robin Talley
Recommended Age: 13 and up

It's 1959, and two girls are coming face first up against deeply held prejudices of their age. Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students at Jefferson High School; despite being an honor student at her last school, she's put in remedial classes and harassed daily. Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the main opponents to the idea of integrating the school. But when they're forced to work on a project together, they not only have to come to terms with the dynamics of race, prejudice, and power... but also with their growing romantic feelings for one another. But if it would shake the school to think of them as friends, how can they possibly consider being more? This compelling novel tackles what happens when two deep prejudices must be faced at the same time.

Hamilton and Peggy!: A Revolutionary Friendship

Hamilton and Peggy!: A Revolutionary Friendship

Written by: L. M. Elliott
Recommended Age: 13 and up

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.

Under A Painted Sky

Under A Painted Sky

Written by: Stacey Lee
Recommended Age: 13 and up

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.

Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray

Written by: Ruta Sepetys
Recommended Age: 13 and up

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.

They Went Left
New!

They Went Left
New!

Written by: Monica Hesse
Recommended Age: 14 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.

Outrun the Moon

Outrun the Moon

Written by: Stacey Lee
Recommended Age: 14 and up

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.

Rebel Spy
New!

Rebel Spy
New!

Written by: Veronica Rossi
Recommended Age: 14 and up

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.

Glow

Glow

Written by: Megan E. Bryant
Recommended Age: 14 and up

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.

The Downstairs Girl

The Downstairs Girl

Written by: Stacey Lee
Recommended Age: 14 and up

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.

28 Days: A Novel of Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto
New!

28 Days: A Novel of Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto
New!

Written by: David Safier
Recommended Age: 14 and up

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.

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All

Written by: Laura Ruby
Recommended Age: 14 and up

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.

In the Time of the Butterflies

In the Time of the Butterflies

Written by: Julia Alvarez
Recommended Age: 16 and up

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 most readers know the truth: Minerva, Patria, and Maria Teresa Mirabal were Las Mariposas — The Butterflies — some of the leading opponents of General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo's dictatorship. In the voices of all three sisters, as well as their surviving sister, Dede, Julia Alvarez captures the Mariposas' reasons for fighting; their hesitations and fears; and the ordinary, everyday details that take them from larger-than-life heroes to people like you and me.

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