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Make Learning Fun With the Best History Books For Kids
Last updated: 24 Oct 2023
Unlike sports or art, history has a history of being kids’ least favorite subject to learn about. Since times have changed so much, it can often be challenging to get kiddos to make connections with these old tales. Something kids (and people in general) notoriously love though are stories, so naturally making historical stories more engaging and vibrant is the perfect way to make learning more fun. History books for kids are specially designed to make the subject fun to read, with illustrations and pictures to offer a visual experience that will take your kids back hundreds of years. A history book is a perfect way to spend some recreational time with your child and learn new stuff too. With our most-loved history books for kids of 2023, you’ll be able to make history a more memorable and enjoyable subject!
Buying history books for kids might seem like an easy feat, but trust us, it is not. It is very much possible that your child might not want to read the history book you bought them because the topic does not interest them.
Factors to Keep in Mind When Buying a History Book for Kids
We have gathered a few factors you should keep in mind before getting your child a history book so that your money is not wasted.
The age of your child matters the most when it comes to selecting history books for them. If the book is inappropriate for their age, they will lose interest before diving into it. You should buy your child a book that will age with them; when they are in the toddler phase, they can learn from the pictures in the book, and as they grow older, they can start to read and understand the narration in the book too.
As you saw above, even history books for kids vary in the subject matter discussed in the book. You should ask your children what part of history interests them or try to find a history book that can relate to their general interests.
For example, if your child is patriotic, you can find a history book solely focused on the country’s history. If your child likes knowing about the world and talks about traveling, you can get a history book discussing the history or culture of countries they’d like to travel to. Similarly, a history book about spies and wars would be great for kids interested in the action genre.
Illustrations in a history book can make or break your kid’s experience. Many kids tend to be more visual learners, especially at a younger age, so having a book with pictures will better allow them to relate to the text and imagine creative scenarios by using the pictures as guides.
Young kids will always love books with more illustrations or an equal amount of pictures and text; a history book with too few images will be of very little interest to them. Older kids can focus on larger chunks of text without needing as many picture breaks so it’s best to choose the history books that can challenge them but are not too hard to read either.
A kid’s history book should not have a lot of difficult words, or it will turn your child away from the book as they will be unable to understand it. A few hard words will add to their vocabulary, but many complex words will make the book uninteresting. So, how do you determine how many difficult words your child can handle?
The five-finger rule
The five-finger rule states that you should hold up a finger every time you stumble upon a word that you do not know in the book. If there are more than five words, you need to choose an easier book. Help your child do this before you buy the history book so that you don’t invest in something that is beyond their reading level.
Ways to Enhance a Child’s Interest in History Books
Although we do our best, we can’t always predict whether a child will like a history book. Here are some innovative ways you can try to develop their interest in the books they’re reading.
Let them choose what to read
A straightforward way of making a history book interesting for your child is to let them choose it. Take your kids along with you to the bookstore or show them a couple of history book choices online and ask them to pick a few books from them. Then, you can filter them using the guide above and buy the right one for your child. The goal is that since they picked the book themselves, they will feel more inclined to read it.
Arrange a group reading
Nothing can be more helpful in developing your kid’s interest in a history book than telling them their friends are reading that book too. Kids love to do what their friends are doing, and your child will start reading the book in no time just to follow in the footsteps of their friends. You can arrange a group reading session with your kid and their friends; have everyone sit together and read and discuss the book amongst each other.
Do a dramatic reading
In the initial stages of developing an interest in a book, it can sometimes be helpful to read the history book out loud to your child. Draw their attention to the illustrations and dramatize the reading to make the reading process more fun for them.
Perform a puppet show
You can also make the book enjoyable by turning it into a puppet show. Enact one chapter as a puppet show to bring the story to life, and your child will automatically want to read the rest of the book themself.
Make them the author
Yes, you heard it right! Encourage your kids to predict what happens next in the history book to give them the sense that they are the author. This makes the upcoming story suspenseful for them. You can also ask them to draw a particular event from the history book for kids or design a cover for the book.
Show them videos online
Another way to make a history book interesting for your kid is to first read out a chapter from the book and then show them a video related to that particular event in history online. This will not only help them learn as it will aid them in visualizing, but it will also keep them interested in the reading part as they will know a video is coming up after it. Mixing up the format of learning (especially with longer books/sections of text) can help keep kids more engaged.
Write a letter to the author
Nothing can be more exciting than writing a letter to a famous person. Kids always regard authors as famous people (something like Santa Claus) because they can’t see them but are reading a book with their name on it. Have your kid write a letter to the author of their history book. Post or email that letter and keep your fingers crossed – maybe the author will reply!
At the top of our list is Native Americans in History. It is authored by Jimmy Beason, an Osage Nation of Oklahoma member. Since it has been written by a professor in Indigenous and American Indian Studies, there is no doubt that every fact in this book has been thoroughly checked.
The book contains information about the contributions of 15 Native American leaders from the perspective of indigenous people. Its colorful illustrations and engaging narrative are sure to keep your kids’ curiosity sparked and captivated. In fact, the narration is done in a way that makes this book enjoyable for people of every age wanting to learn more about Native American history.
This book is specially made for kids between eight and twelve years old, so you won’t have to worry about your little ones not being able to understand it. Plus, this history book for kids is also highly affordable so it won’t weigh heavy on your wallet.
The author’s credibility, the ageless way it is narrated, and its affordability make this history book for kids the best overall on our list.
Most 80s and 90s kids — i.e. the new parents of today — have grown up watching Titanic. They’ve had a basic understanding of what happened to that doomed ship since childhood, but most Gen Z kids don’t even know about that blockbuster movie! Don’t worry, this history book by Mary Montero is all they need. It includes 175+ facts about the unfortunate debut of the Titanic, and how it struck an iceberg in 1912. It even includes detailed information like how much it had cost to be built, and the engineering weaknesses that lead to its quick demise.
Its Q&A section even has in-depth questions about the Titanic’s passengers, cargo, and crew!
Covers the whole Titanic timeline
Has 100% true and myth-busting facts
Hours of reading, exploration, entertainment, and fascination
Teaching your children Black history at an early age is important, and there’s no better way to do it than with this amazing box set. “The Story of Black History Book” by Rockridge Press for kids set includes five books featuring black people who have made a massive impact on history. From the story of Harriet Tubman, who fought to free enslaved people, to Barack Obama, the first African American president, this box set includes it all. It’s a great way for children to get inspired by learning about these great people.
This history book allows your child to learn about the courage and hard work these Black heroes put in. All the books have lovely and colorful illustrations in them as well.
Teach your kid about history’s heroes and encourage diverse learning with the “Black Heroes History Book for Kids.” This book focuses on heroes from ancient Egypt all the way to the civil rights movements of the 1960s and the first Black president of the U.S. Inspire your children to innovate, persevere, and reach new heights with this book. They can learn about the struggle to live during times of slavery in America, and also how Black Americans pioneered industries like science and aerospace.
Consisting of 51 Black heroes, the book contains a wide variety of interesting personalities, from civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr. to legendary musicians to brilliant scientists. This book is the best value because of its deep knowledge of each individual combined with a variety of time periods and innovations covered.
Next up, we have History Year by Year, the most engaging book on the list. Authored by DK, this book has over 1500 images to show different moments in history. It also contains feature spreads and timelines for significant historical moments like the Renaissance and the French Revolution. Another great feature is the ‘Moment in Time’ spreads. These massive images capture a particular moment in history to illustrate it in more detail.
There is even a ‘Child of the Time’ spread for every historical period. These include everything from Ancient Egypt and Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution and World War II. These spreads hook the kids by showing them how children were in historical periods and allowing them to bring their creativity into play by imagining themselves in these eras.
The book manages to list every significant event in history up until 2018, so it’s very up-to-date. The information in the book is brief, and the author has ensured that it is easy to understand for children. This history book for kids also received the Teachers’ Choice Award for the Classroom by the Learning Magazine in 2015, so you can rest assured this book is a great choice to help your child learn more about history.
Over 1500 vibrant images
Maps and timelines help conceptualize events
‘Child of the Time’ spreads encourage relatability
If you are looking for a budget-friendly history book for kids, then Andrea Bentley’s 20th Century American History for Kids is a perfect choice. Apart from being inexpensive, this book features an entertaining and easy-to-understand account of the important events in the 20th century that will easily grasp the attention of your kid.
There are only 30 events featured in the book, making it an excellent read for kids ages eight to twelve as they tend to get bored and lose attention quickly. This history book is arranged chronologically into five eras with a clear timeline, so learning dates and keeping track of the order of events is easier to do. On top of that, for every historic event, the book also gives a small account of an important historical figure and a few fun facts to keep things even more interesting for the children.
The 50 States by Gabrielle Balkan is the easiest-to-understand history book for kids out there. It features 51 infographics that are extremely visually pleasing and teach your kid all there is to know about the 50 US states. Each map is filled with facts related to that particular state and helps your kids break down facts about America into smaller, more digestible chunks.
The maps also feature a colorful ‘welcome box’ that gives a short summary of the states, the ‘state icons’ which pay tribute to the people of that state, ‘six inspiring people’ from that state, and a ‘moments to remember box’ to summarize some main events that occurred in that state. Since everything is illustrated, it is effortless for your kid to learn and remember. It is a perfect history book for children from ages five to nine to learn more about America’s history.
Illustrated maps make it easier to understand
Allows easy learning of important events
Enlightens kids about the people that shaped their country
Does your kid love listening to stories about big events in history? If that’s the case, this history book may be the perfect match for your 8 – 12-year-old. It tells him/her some true stories of the not-so-distant past, introducing them to some spies and secret agents of World War II! It’s an incredibly interesting topic for kids between the ages of 8 to 12. Instead of telling them fictional stories just for entertainment, this book teaches your kids real history in a fun way that keeps them engaged all the way through!
It’s an in-depth tour of undercover operations that shifted the momentum of World War II, covering some of the greatest spies and war heroes for your kids to learn more about the people involved in the war. There are also beautiful illustrations for your kid to visualize what it took to survive and fight through this important event in history.
Exciting and thrilling, keeps kids hooked
Highly educational and teaches kids real-world history
Is your kid interested in world wars and international history? Gift them this book for Christmas and make their curious brain go wild. “World War II Q&A: 175+ Fascinating Facts for Kids” is perfect for your history nerd to learn a ton about WWII and interact with the time through Q&A questions, trivia, true or false questions, and more! There are illustrations where they can see what the world was like decades ago and learn who was involved, like which countries and people were the most important actors during the period.
You can read them over 175 facts before bedtime that are easy to remember and share with members of your family, their siblings, and friends. It’s a complete overview, so they can learn how the war began, who was affected, how children were involved in the war efforts, and how it affects life as we know it today.
Q: Can I download a pdf version of the history book for kids instead of buying a paperback or hardcover?
A: Downloading pdfs from the internet is a violation of copyright and is illegal. However, if you can’t buy the book, you can get its ebook or a kindle version which is legal. Having a physical book to hold and keep track of progress can really enhance your child’s reading experience though so we would still recommend buying the actual book.
Q: Can I get used books?
A: All the links above for each book contain not just a buying option for new books but also used ones. Getting used books is a perfect choice if you are big on recycling or reusing and on a budget.
Q: Are audiobooks good for my child?
A: Yes, audiobooks are also a good way for your child to learn. Audiobooks can develop your kid's hearing skills and help them concentrate more. A fun way is to have your child listen to the audiobook while reading the book to promote speech development and growth of verbal and hearing skills.
Q: Should I let my child read their history book by themselves?
A: Yes, there is no harm in letting your child have some alone reading time. If your child wants you to let him read the book on his own, it is a sign that your child has developed an interest in the book. Even though they might not be able to fully understand and read the book, the struggle will promote a sense of individuality in them, and they will thrive on learning.
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