Wholesome Historical Fiction Books for All Ages


Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. I love being able to learn about the culture and traditions of the past through the lives of characters. It's so much better than trying to learn through the dry paragraphs of a textbook. The time period comes alive, and it's much easier to remember.

There are so many amazing historical fiction books on the market—some more appropriate than others. Here are 20 of our favorites across all reading levels.

Wholesome Historical Fiction for All Ages at LifeInTheNerddom.com

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The Secret Valley
by Clyde Robert Bulla
Covers: Gold Rush Era

This book is a wonderful story about the Davis family and their adventures as they travel from Missouri to California during the Gold Rush.


Pompeii...Buried Alive
by Edith Kunhardt
Covers: Ancient Pompeii

Even adults can enjoy reading this short little book packed with history and engaging illustrations. There's a lot of information not only about the ancient city of Pompeii, but also on volcanos. This could be a sensitive topic for children since everyone in the city dies, but the author does a wonderful job of presenting the facts without being too descriptive.


The Night Crossing
by Karen Ackerman
Covers: Holocaust Era

Set in 1938 during the Holocaust, this book tells the story of young Clara and her family who are forced to leave their home in Austria. The story carries enough detail to accurately teach about the time period without going into too much detail for this age group to handle. Wonderful book for teaching about this period of history.


Escape By Night
by Laurie Myers
Covers: Civil War Era

Set in a small Georgia town during the Civil War, Escape by Night tells the story of Tommy and his Sister, Annie, who spend their days watching wounded soldiers arrive in town. Their local church has been turned into a hospital and the stream of wounded never seems to end. One particular soldier captures their interest and Tommy soon faces one of the most difficult decisions he's ever had to face.


Over the Hills to Nugget
by Aileen Fisher
Covers: Gold Rush Era

From the book cover: "Set in the high Rocky Mountains of Colorado Territory during the gold rush years, this novel explores some of the risks, hardships, joys, and pastimes of the era. Through hard work and ingenuity, Ernie and Papa are able to provide for the family and improve the farm. When tragedy strikes, will the Bretts have the courage to stay on their beloved ranch?" My children loved every moment of this book.


When the Soldiers Were Gone
by Vera W. Propp
Covers: Holocaust Era

Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, says of When the Soldiers Were Gone: "Vera Propp has done a masterful job of reducing the terrors of the Holocaust and war to the believable scale of an eight-year-old...What is obvious in this book, besides the clarity and tenderness with which it is told, is the fact that the author truly understands children—the ones in the book and the ones who will read it."


I Survived: Five Epic Disasters
by Lauren Tarshis
Covers: Various (see description)

This is more non-fiction than historical fiction, but it's so well written that it doesn't read like a non-fiction book. In this book you'll learn about The Children's Blizzard of 1888, The Titanic Disaster in 1912, The Great Boston Molasses Flood in 1919, The Japanese Tsunami in 2011, and The Henryville Tornado in 2012.


Ink on His Fingers
by Louie A. Vernon
Covers: 15th Century Germany, Johann Gutenberg

From Amazon: "Johann Gutenberg is working on printing the first Bible with type. Twelve-year-old Hans Dunne works in Gutenberg's shop as an apprentice printer. Soon, Hans finds himself in the middle of a type-stealing mystery. Will Hans, and the other pressmen be able to keep Herr Fust from getting the type? Will they be able to finish the Bible so many people will be able to read and learn from it?" This book is superb at capturing and keeping the attention of children as they learn about Johann Gutenberg and his importance in history.


My Name is Sally Little Song
by Brenda Woods
Covers: Slavery Era

Sally Harrison can't seem to find her place in the world of the Seminole tribe when her family escapes the plantation in Georgia where they were slaves. She's no longer a slave, but she's not an Indian either. The rest of her family seems to be fitting right in, so why can't she adjust? The School Library Journal shares, "Woods deftly teases out both the light and the dark moments of the experience....This accessible tale will prove a rich resource for study and discussion."


The Golden Bull
by Marjorie Cowley
Covers: Ancient Mesopotamia

Amazon description reads: "5,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia during a terrible drought, Jomar and Zefa's father must send his children away to the city of Ur because he can no longer feed them....Marjorie Cowley vividly imagines the intrigues, and harsh struggle for survival in ancient Mesopotamia."


Anna's Fight for Hope
by JoAnn A. Grote
Covers: The Great Depression Era

This wholesome book tells the fictional story of Anna Harrington and her family who lived during the Great Depression. "This very personal story shows the beauty of friendship while at the same time teaching important lessons of Christian faith and American history." (Amazon Description)


Enemy Brothers
by Constance Savery
Covers: World War II Era

From the back cover: "Enemy Brothers, written in the early years of World War II before the United States joined the Allied forces, is a story of faith in the face of uncertainty. As events and relationships develop, the reader is given an inside view of the confusion war brings and the triumph of the human spirit in the midst of it." The writing in this book is fantastic. Highly recommended.


Race for the Prairie
by Aileen Fisher
Covers: Cherokee Strip Land Run

From the back cover: Becky and her family leave their farmland in the Ozarks to join nearly 100,000 people in a race for homesteads during the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893. With a fast horse named Sprinter, Becky's family hopes to get some of the best land, but unexpected events threaten their dreams. Interesting characters, an exciting plot, and feel-good messages all come together in this wonderful historical fiction book.


Slave Boy in Judea
by Josephine Sanger Lau
Covers: Ancient Judea

I loved this book from beginning to end. It is one of my all-time favorites. From the back cover: Captured by Romans in the forests of Gaul, Madoc is sold as a slave to a Roman centurion stationed in Judea. Though he is not a hard master, Madoc is determined to escape and find his mother. However, the story takes a turn when Madoc and his master meet followers of Jesus and hear about the new way of living he taught. This story is not only engaging and packed with great messages, but it also teaches about the historical time period and the growing influence of the early Christian faith.


The Winged Watchman
by Hilda Van Stockum
Covers: World War II Era

Jenny Phillips from The Good and the Beautiful describes this book as follows: "Wow! This is a fantastic book about the Nazi occupation of Holland. The story and the characters are compelling, and the writing is beautiful. It is written in such a way that the reader gains a deep and personal understanding of the Nazi occupation and the trials and tribulation it brought, but not in a graphic, depressing way. Instead, the book focuses on the goodness and strength of people. The book is full of wonderful messages and character-building principles."


Big John's Secret
by Eleanore M. Jewett
Covers: Crusades Era

This fascinating little story of courage, brotherhood, mercy, and forgiveness is set during the Crusades and tells the story of Big John, a young peasant boy surrounded by mystery. Who is he? Where is he from? Only Old Marm truly knows.


Daniel and the Drum Rock
by Florance Parker Simister
Covers: Early America

This book is filled with beautiful, descriptive language and wonderful lessons about obedience, friendship, faithfulness, and forgiveness. One of my favorites! From the back cover: Daniel Chapelier and his family have traveled from France to England to America, fleeing religious persecution and seeking land to call their own. When they finally settle in the colony of Rhode Island, they hope their trials are over. All is well until their English neighbors start making trouble. Can Daniel and his new Indian friend, Netop, find a way to keep the peace between the angry settlers?


Patterns on the Wall
by Elizabeth Yates
Covers: Early 1800 New England

Elizabeth Yates is one of my favorite authors. Her ability to capture every detail of a scene in vivid, rich vocabulary is amazing. In this book, set in New England in the early 1800s, Jared Austin learns that it takes hard work and perseverance to make a life worthy of the girl he loves. You'll find beautiful messages of kindness, self-improvement, humility, and gratitude to God.


by Elizabeth Yates
Covers: 20th Century New England

Another book by Elizabeth Yates that is one of the very best books I've ever read. I loved this book so much that I have recommended it to every young adult I know. Though technically considered fiction (rather than historical fiction), the book addresses some deep issues that are still prevalent today—prostitution, suicide, neglect, and lust versus love—in a way that deserves mention on this list. The issues are dark, but the presentation and handling of them in this book is not. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.


The Ides of April
by Mary Ray
Covers: Ancient Rome

From Amazon: Hylas is young Greek slave in the household of Caius Pomponius, a Roman Senator involved in political schemes. When the senator is found mysteriously murdered, the household slaves (including Hylas and his mother) fall under suspicion. Hylas escapes capture long enough to enlist the aid of a young tribune, Camillus Rufus. The desperate attempt to unravel the threads of the political intrigue carries Camillus into the very presence of Nero and brings Hylas into contact with the new secret sect of Christians.


If you enjoy these books and would like a resource for more wholesome historical fiction books you'll want to check out The Good and the Beautiful's Book List. It's a free downloadable list of more than 650 clean content books that have high literary and moral value.


This post is part of the 10 Days of Wholesome Summer Reading series. Be sure to check out all of the posts and visit the other contributing bloggers for lots of encouragement and freebies!



This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience, which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission. This helps me keep my blog up and running without costing you a penny more! Click here to read my full disclosure policy.


Wholesome Historical Fiction for All Ages at LifeInTheNerddom.com
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