Books for 6th Grade Time Travelers

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Yesterday was the last day of school before the holiday break. So after the carols were sung, the homemade cookies were delivered to teachers, and lots of holiday greetings, a parent stopped by the library. She was planning her weekend shopping and asked me to recommend historical fiction for her 6th grade daughter.  This is truly a challenge because there are so many good books that bring history to life and spark a reader’s curiosity.  The fifteen novels listed below are just the beginning. There are hundreds of engaging historical novels for kids this age.  Choosing one only depends on where you want the magic carpet to land!

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (New York City during the American Revolution)

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (the yellow fever epidemic in the late 18th century)

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi (a brave girl, a perilous transatlantic crossing, an accusation of murder!)

Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman (the diary of a girl living in medieval England)

Alchemy of Meggy Swann by Karen Cushman (the story of Meggy, who arrives in Elizabethan England with her friend, Louse, who happens to be a goose!)

The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman (jumping ahead many years….this one takes place during the California Gold Rush)

The Year We Were Famous by Carole Estby Dagg (a mother and daughter walking across the United States in 1896)

Nory Ryan’s Song by Patricia Reilly Giff (the story of a brave girl trying to protect her family during the Irish Potato Famine)

Willow Run by Patricia Reilly Giff (life on the homefront during WWII)

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (winner of the 1998 Newbery Medal, life during the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma written in verse. Grim subject. Beautiful book)

Stowaway by Karen Hesse (Captain James Cook’s three-year voyage around the world through the eyes of an 11-year-old stowaway)

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson (I love this book so much! the story of 16-year-old Hattie Brooks who leaves Iowa to live on an inherited Montana homestead in 1918)

Lyddie by Katherine Paterson (story of a “Lowell mill girl” during the mid-1800s)

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith (1940s Louisiana and a young black woman who wants to be a pilot. Incredible story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots) 

A Faraway Island by Annika Thor (the first book in a series about two Austrian sisters who are evacuated from Vienna to two separate homes on a Swedish island during WWII)

Make that 16 – how could I have forgotten The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare – Kit Tyler, Hannah Tupper and, of course, Nat – one of the greatest historical novels (for any age) ever written – in my opinion!


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