Historical fiction brings history to life with memorable characters, compelling plots, and vivid descriptions of everyday activities and era-defining events.

The genre also features unfamiliar words and concepts that can pose a challenge for your students. Vocabulary.com makes it easy to prepare students for deeper, more enjoyable reading by explicitly teaching the specific words they'll encounter in the text.

Our curriculum team has created curated vocabulary lists for dozens of classic and contemporary historical fiction titles that will appeal to the range of readers in your classroom.

Implementation Ideas

Prep students for closer reading with paired practice activities.

  1. Before students tackle their reading assignment, search for the book in our list library. Using our curated lists, you can pair the title you're teaching with text-based vocabulary instruction.
  2. Assign a Practice activity based on the list you selected. Our tools make it easy to assign work to multiple classes, create a series of assignments for an entire book, and adjust due dates.
  3. Have students independently complete the Practice assignment. As they work, they'll learn the key vocabulary words from the book, presented in usage examples from the source text.

Give students a choice of books within the genre.

Genre study is a perfect match for student-selected reading, but it can be a challenge to provide instruction to multiple students reading different titles within one class. You can support individual choice by having students select their books from our list library, and then complete the Practice activity on their own.

Recommended reading:

The following recommendations are a great place to start. Bear in mind that the titles below are just a sample of our historical fiction titles. Search our list library for thousands of other curated lists and collections.

Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez
Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi
The Fighting Ground by Avi
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Tiger, Tiger by Lynne Reid Banks
The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar
The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Like Vanessa by Tami Charles
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome
My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
Mississippi Trial, 1955 by Chris Crowe
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli
Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper
Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein by Jennifer Roy and Ali Fadhil
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
One Crazy Summer and sequels by Rita Williams-Garcia
The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Projekt 165 by Alan Gratz
Refugee by Alan Gratz
Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Ben and Me by Robert Lawson
The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
The Glory Field by Walter Dean Myers
The King's Fifth by Scott O'Dell
White Bird by R.J. Palacio
Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park
When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
Lyddie by Katherine Paterson
A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck
Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and sequels by Mildred D. Taylor
Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Betty Before X by Renée Watson and Ilyasah Shabazz
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
Dragonwings by Laurence Yep
The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

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