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Ten Favorite Read-Aloud Books for American History

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My kids and I love learning about history through historical fiction and biographies. Reading a story set right in the middle of the action just gives you a feel for the time period like nothing else can.

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In today’s Top  Ten post, I wanted to share some of our favorites from American history. This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means. Just some that stick out from our recent studies and a few that left a lasting impression from when Brianna and I studied American history together.

1. Across Five Aprils – This was probably our (Brianna and me) favorite Civil War era book. I haven’t gotten that far with Josh and Megan yet, but it’s one I look forward to reading again with them..

2. Johnny Tremain – I almost quit reading Johnny Tremain because it was taking so long, but Brianna wouldn’t hear of it. She loved it as much as I did. Put this one on your list for when you study the American Revolution.

And, don’t think you can cheat and just watch the Disney movie. It’s not the same thing. Brianna was very disappointed in the movie.

American Revolution read-aloud

3. Justin Morgan Had a Horse – The younger kids and I just finished this one. It was one that often found me reading way past where we were supposed to stop for the day just because I wanted to find out what happened. If I didn’t read longer, Megan would often beg me to and Josh, who would never ask me to read longer, never complained when I did. It’s set around the time of the War of 1812.

4. Girl of the Shining Mountains – Best Sacagawea/Lewis and Clark book ever! Well, of the ones I’ve read, anyway. I’m hoping to read this one with Josh and Megan before our summer break is over.

5. Little House on the Prairie – Enough said, right?

6. Sower Series Biographies – We’ve really been enjoying the Sower series biographies. They include how the subjects’ faith guided their decisions. They’re not all written by the same authors, so some are better than others. We really enjoyed the ones about Abigail Adams and Frances Scott Key.

7. Guns for General Washington – Another favorite American Revolution story, we liked how the perspective would shift among different people to give the reader a really good feel for what was happening during that period in history.

homeschool history read-aloud

8. Pedro’s Journal – This is a wonderful discovering the New World book written from the perspective of Christopher Columbus’s cabin boy, Pedro. This, for us, was a much better option than boring textbooks.

9. Westward to Home: Joshua’s Oregon Trail Diary – One of our most memorable books about westward expansion, Westward to Home made me cry. That always amuses my children.

10. Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims – I’m guessing you probably don’t need me to tell you the time period on this one. I’m hoping you don’t, anyway.

What are some of your family’s favorite read-aloud books for American history? We’re only to the point just after the War of 1812. We’ve got lots of time to cover and we’d love to find some new favorites.

Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers has been nominated in the Circle of Moms Top 25 Homeschooling Blogs awards. I’d love your vote! You can vote once per blog per day – that means that you can vote for ALL your favorite blogs on the list once a day until June 27. I hope you’ll stop by, check out the list, and vote. Thanks!

This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday and iHomeschool Network’s 10 in 10 series. This post contains affiliate links.

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14 Comments

  1. Kris – we have read many of these, but there are some that I’m adding to our wish-list, too. We absolutely loved Johnny Tremain!!!

    I think our favorite American History read aloud has been Sign of the Beaver or maybe Calico Bush!

    Thanks for the list. 🙂

    1. I have never read either of those, Mary. I’ve thought of reading Sign of the Beaver with the kids several times, but, for one reason or another, just never have. I need to put it on my list.

  2. Thanks for those recommendations. I think this is the best way to study History. We are using the Beautiful Feet books and study guide and love them!

    Funny you cried, yes my kids wonder what I’m sniffling at too. I think it’s so cute to catch my son sniffle at a movie (he tries to hide it).

    Enjoy your summer!

  3. I have a love/hate relationship with Johnny Tremain. I stopped reading it because it was boring to me. So, we got the audiobook from the library (still boring to me) but my kids loved it.

    Our favorite read-aloud for American History so far was Brighty of Grand Canyon. It is about a burro who wanders the Grand Canyon and even helps President Teddy Roosevelt hunt mountain lions. True story- and another of Marguerite Henry’s great books.

  4. We loved Across Five Aprils, Johnny Tremain and Justin Morgan had a Horse. We also liked the Red Badge of Courage for Civil War. All Quiet on the Western Front may be a bit mature but is very good about WW1 and The Hiding Place and Dairy of Anne Frank I think both speak to the heart during WW2.
    Thanks for sharing your recommendations.

  5. Thanks for the suggestions on American Revolution era books! Will be adding these to our list of reads for our study on the American Revolution. 🙂

  6. Thanks for this list! We missed many of these this past year but are still doing some American history next year. I’m going to especially look for the first one as we are starting with the Civil War.

    We didn’t read them as read-alouds but ds really enjoyed Sign of the Beaver, Ben and Me and Mr. Revere and I when we were reading about the Revolution.

  7. My son is not quite four years old so we have a little while before learning American History. Thank you for this post though – I will squirrel it away with all these great recommendations and look forward to reading them with him in the future.

  8. Hi. I love your list. I just wanted to share a book. It is not exactly historical but it has touched my family very deeply.

    Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin. Hope you enjoy it.

  9. Great list of books for American History. Johnny Tremain is our family fav for this time period. We read it at least twice while homeschooling. We also liked Carry On Mr Bowditch & Witch of Blackbird Pond.

  10. I love the Riverboat Adventures by Lois Walfrid Johnson. It is a Christian series about a boat who helps runaway slaves during the American Civil War. About the same reading level as Johnny Tremain.

  11. It’s so funny that I was randomly googling for American Revolution read-alouds for someone, and BAM! I was back at your blog. We read Across Five Aprils last fall, and it will always remain on my top 10 best historical read-alouds for kids list (which I don’t actually have, but I should, so maybe I will think on that). I learned so much from that book, and my kids LOVED it!

  12. Thanks for sharing your list! Sign of the Beaver & Witch of Blackbird Pond are at the top of ours. One we really loved about Jamestown was Blood on the River. It really made history real!

  13. Fever 1793 is hands-down my favorite. It’s about the Yellow fever epidemic that hits Philadelphia in 1793 while Philadelphia is the capital of the newly formed United States. Great characters and wonderful plot twists; it is a must read!

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