The word ‘history’ contains the word ‘story’, and as Rudyard Kipling once said, “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”

And books with characters living in bygone times really do bring those times to life in an interesting and entertaining way, and thus make them memorable. Beginning this month, I will be providing lists of books that encourage people of all ages to absorb history through fiction. Most I have personally read. If I haven’t, the recommendation is based on good reviews by others or my having liked other bygone-era books by the same author. Some will only be bygone era in that they were written in what kids born in the new millennium consider ‘days long ago’, (even if their parents and teachers don’t). But life has changed quite a bit, even within the last fifty years, and such stories are therefore still a portrait of other times. 

Book titles will sometimes appear in two different age groupings if they seem likely to appeal to both, but those groupings are merely guidelines. You know best what your children and teens enjoy and/or are ready for.

To start off: stories about modern-day characters either time travelling to other eras or being influenced by events in other eras within their own time.

Ages 3-7

Oh, No, Not Again (Or How I Built A Time Machine To Save History) by Mac Barnett

The Trouble With Time Travel by Stephen W. Martin

Ages 7-10

Canadian Flyer Adventure series by Frieda Wishinsky (Various Eras)

Children Of Winter by Berlie Doherty (Medieval Times)

Imagination Station books by Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker

Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne (Various Eras)

Ranger In Time books by Kate Messner (Various Eras)

Return To Titanic series by Steven Brezenoff

Time Spies books by Candice Ransom (Various Eras)

Ages 10-13

Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare by Penny Estelle (Medieval Switzerland)

Building Blocks by Cynthia Voight (20th Century)

The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen (WW II)

Eridahn by Robert E. Young (Prehistoric Times)

Garth And The Mermaid by Barbara Smucker(Medieval Times)

A Handful Of Time by Kit Pearson (20th Century)

The Orphan Of Ellis Island by Elvira Woodruff (Early 20th Century)

The Secret Lake and its sequel Return To The Secret Lake by Karen Ingliss

Time Rose series by Renee Duke (Various Eras)

Time Sight by Lynne Jonell (Medieval Times)

Time Travel Cat by Lloyd Alexander

White Jade Tiger by Julie Lawson (1880s Chinatown)


A Step Sideways by Nancy Bell (Arthurian England)

Time Rose series by Renee Duke (Various Eras)

Time Wars books by Simon Hawke (Various Eras)

The Unhewn Stone by Wendy Laharnar (Medieval Switzerland)

Adults / Older Teens

A.D. -62 Pompeii by Rebecca M. East (Ancient Rome)

An Old Captivity by Nevil Shute (Viking Era / 20th-Century Crossover)

Green Darkness by Anya Seton (Medieval / 20th-Century Crossover)

The Man Who Went Back by Warwick Deeping (Post Roman Britain)

Smouldering Fires by Anya Seton (18th Century Arcadia / 20th Century America Crossover)

Timeline by Michael Crichten (14th-Century France)


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