Best History Books

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This book covers a wide variety of important moments, people and changes throughout history. Each historical episode has “before” and “after” links that help readers connect the causes and effects of historical events. Each section has large, colorful images that help illustrate the content, as well as definitions, maps, photos, quotations and timelines that help readers understand the “full picture” of the moment. The updated third edition even includes today’s contemporary issues, so readers with interests in more recent topics will enjoy this book as well.

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Howard Zinn’s book is best for advanced readers and is a good book to work up to if your student is very interested in American history. With a focus on telling the stories of those who have been silenced and ignored, the book reshapes our perspective on our history. It is important to learn from multiple perspectives in order to get the best understanding of what really happened in our past — this book does a fantastic job of that.

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This book provides a positive view and interpretation of the Statue of Liberty that’s perfect for ages 6 and up. “Her Right Foot” includes historical facts about the monumental statue and provides great opportunities for open discussions. This book is a good option for leisure reading or as a curriculum supplement for those who are looking for something extra in the classroom or in a homeschooling collection. It sheds light on not just Lady Liberty herself, but also the statue’s symbolic place in American history.

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Nathan Hale created a book that introduces us to the story of notorious American spy, also named Nathan Hale, who lived during the Revolutionary War. Before being hanged by the British, he shared his last words, which still resonate today: “I regret that I have but one life to give to my country.” This book highlights some of history’s most gruesome and most unbelievable events, which can help young ones to truly capture the importance of acknowledging our history. The fact that these are graphic novels helps to get readers invested further into the stories and help history truly come to life. Those who enjoy either history or comic books will have an enjoyable time reading these infamous stories. This option is great for kids ages 8 to 12.

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History teaches us that there are two sides to every story. Why not examine an example of that in “George Vs. George,” a tale of two men with high authority and the same name who had more in common than they think? Questions regarding George Washington and King George III are answered through some of their best-known moments. Beautiful illustrations in the book create an engaging atmosphere that makes it more pleasurable and enjoyable for readers. This is a terrific option for readers ages 9 to 12.

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For some children, history can be an overwhelming topic, especially when reviewing events in chronological order. It can be a lot of information to process at once. The “History Year by Year” book series allows children to enjoy a self-paced analysis of each historical event. The series includes more than 1,500 intriguing pictures, interactive charts and diagrams that make it easier for younger audiences to take in bite-sized bits of world history. Choose this option for kids in the 9 to 12 age range.

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“Shackleton’s Journey” engages readers ages 7 to 11 with beautiful illustrations. Children will enjoy reading the tale of these historic expeditions to Antarctica and examining the drawings of sleds, dogs and diagrams that explain this bold journey and the stunning landscape. The book provides easily digestible information that helps readers imagine the Antarctic environment. Younger readers will gain a grasp of the historical and educational background for the expedition that will make it incredibly exciting.

Expert Commentary 

“Great history books can inspire a lifelong interest in history. The goal is to help children find the books at the intersection of their interests and where they are on the developmental continuum. I like to plan curriculum, or even reading time at home, around an overall theme or topic. I’ll choose an era like the American Revolution or ancient times, and then look for interesting and relevant books, both fiction and nonfiction, related to that particular topic. I have found this approach leads to a more holistic understanding.”