My Top Ten Historical Fiction Novels: Middle Grade Edition

March 17, 2022 – 07:14 am

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeToday’s post was originally supposed to be about how I named the characters in EVERY DAY AFTER. But…after reading Jess’s awesome post on Monday, and coming to the realization that our processes were quite alike, I decided to go in another direction.

Instead, I am going to share with you my Top Ten Favorite Middle Grade Historical Fiction Novels. I can recall exactly where I was when I read each one of them for the first time. If you haven’t yet had a chance to read these titles, I strongly encourage you to try and make space on your to-be-read pile. They are phenomenal. And just in case my encouragement isn’t enough, I’ve included the first lines from each book to further entice you. Sneaky, right?

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park1. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD–(Alabama, 1932)

(Disclaimer: Yes, I know this is widely considered to be adult historical fiction, but it is also widely read in the upper middle grades all across America, and by high school it is generally required reading. So I cheated and included it anyway. Hey, this is my list after all!)

This one needs no formal introduction. It is a classic. And, truth be told, any introduction I could provide would fail to do this book justice. Scout Finch and Boo Radley. Enough said.

First line: When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

2. A SINGLE SHARD–(Korea, 12th century)

This is a gorgeous, quiet book. The language is tight and disciplined, perfectly reflecting the discipline required of the book’s protagonist, Tree-ear, as he learns to craft celadon pottery in a twelfth-century Korean village.

First line: “Eh, Tree-ear! Have you hungered well today?” Crane-man called out as Tree-ear drew near the bridge.

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm

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