Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015

It is that time of year where picture book love is celebrated and shared! Yes, Picture book 10 for 10 is here!

This celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning. Thanks to both of them for the work they do to promote this wonderful day of picture book sharing!

This is my fourth year participating in this event. In 2012, I shared ten beloved titles. In 2013, I went with a theme: Connections across the generations. Last year (2014) I shared ten “go to” titles on various themes like generosity, courage and forgiveness.

This year I decided to share ten historical fiction titles that are favourites of mine. When we can engage children with wondering and thinking about another time and place and what it was like for people who lived then, our discussions automatically center on who we are as people. Such rich and important conversations to have. Many of these titles can also be shared with students as we try and read more diverse titles in our classrooms.

Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

My top ten favourites on this theme: Historical Fiction

That Book Woman written by Heather Henson and illustrated by David Small (2008)

What is more beautiful than bravery and perseverance to bring books into the homes of children who don’t even have the chance to go to school? Set in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1930s, this book is inspired by the Pack Horse Librarians who brought books by horseback to areas where there were few if any schools and no libraries. A story about the power of books, the devotion they are given and the magic that happens when a reader is made.

 That Book Woman Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles and illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue (2001)

A story of friendship, prejudice and courage set in the American South in 1964. Beautifully written – lyrical text and honest emotions, this book is one of the best historical fiction picture books I have read.

Freedom Summer Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Busing Brewster written by Richard Michelson and illustrated by R.G. Roth (2010)

A picture book with many important themes: having a dream, the power of libraries to be transformative and what it was like to be black at an all white school. Set in the 1970s when integration was being “helped” along by forced busing – bringing black students into white schools, this story gives children a glimpse into the racial tensions of the time and the complexities of integration.

 Busing Brewster Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Shi-shi-etko written by Nicola Campbell and illustrated by Kim LaFave (2005)

Shi-shi-etko has only four more days until she must attend residential school. She spends these precious days with her family, in nature gathering her memories and avsorbing the wisdom of her family. Such a beautiful book about a very heartbreaking topic. My students were mesmerized. And full of questions.

 Shi-shi-etko Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Lizzie Nonsense by Jan Ormerod (2004)

The illustrations in this title are incredible. It is nostalgic. Lonely. Gives us a glimpse of the hardships of early pioneer life. Set, so very beautifully, in Australia.

Lizzie Nonsense Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

The Other Side written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis (2001)

This author/illustrator combination create absolute magic. So much in one little picture book with huge implications for discussion. In a segregated town, black and white don’t mix. A fence that represents the division of race becomes just a fence at the end of the story when a whole row of girls perches atop it.

 The Other Side Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Elsie’s Bird written by Jane Yolen and David Small (2010)

It is the late 1800s and Elsie has lost her mother. Her father moves her to the Nebraska prairie from their home in Boston. When Elsie’s beloved canary escapes his cage she must venture out into the landscape of this new quiet, open space. Both Yolen and Small are at their best – this is a literary and visual treat.

Elsie's Bird Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Red Kite, Blue Kite written by Ji-li Jiang and illustrated by Greg Ruth (2013)

Rich in truth and history (based on the story of the author’s family friend), this book is set during the Cultural Revolution in China. It is the story of father and son –  separated by distance and circumstances who stay connected through kites in the sky. Heartbreaking but full of hope. Such a beautiful book.

Red kite, blue kite Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

A Single Pebble: A Story of the Silk Road by Bonnie Christensen (2013)

An appealing book on so many levels – the history, the geography, the adventure, the culture – wow. The story begins with one girl in China (ninth century China) who dreams of traveling The Silk Road trade route. Not able to travel even part of the way with her father, she asks him to bring a single pebble to send along the road to a child somewhere further along. The path of the pebble is incredible as it is passed from person to person finally ending up in Italy. My son read this book and found it fascinating – all of the old maps and interesting journey.

 A Single Pebble Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries. Four Families. One Delicious Treat. written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Sophie Blackall (2015)

This book does so much. As we travel through time with a recipe for a simple summer dessert, we are treated to a history lesson that is much more than how kitchen utensils and appliances have changed. Sometimes, history titles have heavy themes. This one is about the everyday of cooking together. Pure delight.

A Fine Dessert Monday Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

I have other favourites on this theme that I didn’t include. Check out my Historical Fiction Pinterest board.

Follow along on twitter using the #pb10for10 hashtag. All posts will be linked on the Google Community Site for Picture Book 10 for 10


Happy picture book reading!  

26 thoughts on “Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015

  1. I love this day! Your theme is fabulous as I am introduced to several new titles I need to investigate. I recently read A Fine Dessert & now understand all the buzz; it is fabulous. Can’t wait to get into a class and read it!

    • It is a lovely book isn’t it? I think sharing it with a class will mean that some dessert making will be necessary! I hope you can find some of these titles. All of them are really rich reading experiences.

  2. Such a great theme this year, my friend! Lizzie Nonsense and Red Kite, Blue Kite are new titles for me that I will be checking out! I still need to figure out how you make your book cover quilts! I love them and imagine if they were real! We’d be sleeping under stories every night! Happy 10 for 10 day!

  3. You book lists always introduce to me new titles that I need to check out to broaden my reading horizon. Beautiful theme. Thanks for sharing your love of books with us.

  4. So wonderful to have just discovered this wonderful celebration of picture books! Can’t wait to put several on hold at my local library!

    How sad that the world of PBs lost the gifted author/illustrator Bonnie Christensen (A Single Pebble…) to ovarian cancer in January. The stories she has left us will keep her creative, beautiful spirit alive! I cherish my copy of her “Woody Guthrie, Poet of the People” which she autographed for me at our college reunion a few years back.

  5. Freedom Summer and Busing Brewster have now been added to my Amazon cart! Thanks! I have a theme collection in my classroom on “inequality/injustice” so they will be perfect additions!

  6. Several of my favorites here! I drive through the grasslands and across the prairie to work every day in Nebraska and thus have a soft spot for Elsie’s Bird. Lizzie Nonsense is not a title I know–but I love pioneer stories and anything Australia, so I’m off to try to find a used copy (seems to be out of print).

    • I found my copy at the public library. The illustrations are beautiful and I like that it is set in Australia. And yes, Elsie’s Bird is all kinds of wonderful. How I adore David Small.

  7. Carrie, I love your list. So thoughtful. Some of my favorites are on it like Shi-shi-etko, Freedom School, and A Fine Dessert. I have not read Busing Brewster of Elsie’s Bird. I have added them to my list. I have been thinking about historical fiction lately and am wondering what is most important to teach regarding the genre. Would love to pick your brain:)

    • I would love to talk – keeping in mind that we are in two different countries. Still – books like Shi-shi-etko (and her next title) are relevant to both US and Canada. As are many titles I think because it is the discussion of human relationships and decisions (and the repercussions) that are at root of all historical events.

  8. I always find “new to me” titles when I visit your blog, Carrie. I so appreciate your focus on historical fiction this year. It’s a genre that is often hard to sell in chapter book format but I find when linked to a picture book, the “selling” gets easier. The Other Side, Elsie’s Bird, and That Book Woman are three of my all time favorites. I’ve added Lizzie Nonsense, Busing Brewster, Shi-Shi-etko, Red Kite Blue Kite, and A Single Pebble to my TBR list.

    Thank you for a fantastic list!

    • Susan, I am so pleased that you found some titles of interest for you. I really like all of these titles so I think you can’t go wrong. Isn’t That Book Woman so incredible?

  9. Several titles I love here (probably introduced to them by you from earlier blog posts) – Red Kite, Blue Kite, Elsie’s Bird, and That Book Woman. I’m off the request A Single Pebble – a new book for me. Thanks for continuing to share book love all the time. Historical fiction is a favorite genre for me.

  10. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful group of books, Carrie! I share your love for That Book Woman. It’s one of my favorites and spurs so much discussion in my second grade classroom. I can’t wait to check out Red Kite, Blue Kite. It looks like a beautiful book.

  11. Carrie,
    What a glorious list! You have so many titles I absolutely love here:
    Red Kite, Blue Kite
    The Other Side
    Freedom Summer.

    In the process of creating a historical list, I couldn’t help but notice the diversity in your characters. How wonderful to see diversity appear naturally around a topic. I had to request “Busing Brewster.” Looking forward to reading this “new to me” title.

    I can’t thank you enough for all of your support of this event and the #pb10for10 community. It’s people like you that make this the amazing community that it is.


    • You are so right Cathy – the diversity wasn’t intentional – it just happened when I brought all of these books on this topic together that I loved. I am always so excited to be a part of the #pb10for10 events. It is a pure pleasure.

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