I love learning history without a textbook. Throughout elementary school and middle school, I gained a wealth of knowledge about the American Civil War. Nothing brings history to life quite like an intricate story, and characters with stories, backgrounds, thoughts, hopes, and fears. Informing and inspiring, here is a list of American Civil War books for kids!
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American Civil War Books for Kids
The Last Brother: A Civil War Tale by Tricia Hakes Noble
The bloodiest battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg, rages on. Eleven year old Gabe is a bugler for the Union Army. Two of Gabe’s older brothers have already died in the bloodshed, and Gabe is determined not to let his other brother Davy suffer the same fate.
Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
Patricia Polacco is known for writing long picture books about thought provoking topics, and this one is no different. In this true story, Pinkus Aylee, a black Union soldier, finds Sheldon Curtis left for dead and carries him home to be tended by his mother, but when the two boys attempt to rejoin the Union troops, they are captured and sent to Andersonville Prison.
Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
Henry Brown doesn’t know how old he is, but he knows he has dreamed about freedom his entire life. So how does he escape? By mailing himself to freedom! This short picture book is a true story, and a great introduction to the American Civil War.
Civil War on Sunday (Magic Tree House series) by Mary Pope Osborne
In this well-known series, Jack and Annie travel back in time – this time to the American Civil War! There, they meet famed nurse Clara Barton and help wounded stories!
Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman
He is on the penny and the $5 dollar bill, but who really is Lincoln? A young girl finds out! For younger kids interested in history, Looking at Lincoln brings our 16th president alive, instead of just another name and face in a history book. No book on the American Civil War can completely avoid slavery, bigotry, and death; but this can be a gentle conversation starter, aimed at preschoolers and kindergarteners.
Who was Harriet Tubman? by Yona Zeldis McDonough
Travel back in time with the Who Is series, that profiles famous members of history. This one is about the life and story of Harriet Tubman, a modern day Moses who helped lead her people to freedom.
What was the Battle of Gettysburg? by Jim O’Conner
What exactly was the Battle of Gettysburg, and how did it impact the Civil War? The South had been winning up to this point. So how did Union troops stop General Robert E. Lee’s invasion of the North? Illustrations and pictures bring this story alive, and makes it more memorable.
Meet Addy by American Girl
As a young girl, I loved American Girl’s books! This six-book series follows young Addy Walker and her family from their journey from slavery to freedom. Each book explores a new aspect of Addy’s life. In the first book, Addy and her mother make a daring attempt for freedom.
Welcome to Addy’s World: 1864 by American Girl
Showing more of the “real life” aspect of Addy in a simple textbook format, bring the Civil War to life from Addy’s perspective.
Escape By Night: A Civil War Adventure by Laurie Myers
As the Civil War begins, ten year-old Tommy and his sister Annie face a difficult choice; whether or not they should help a Yankee soldier escape to freedom. It’s told in short, simple chapters, and features a great loyal dog.
Watcher in the Piney Woods by Elizabeth McDavid Jones
American Girl has a history mystery series for girls who are a little beyond the traditional American Girl series. Some of the books can have an eerie feel to them (as in they get the feeling they’re being watched, etc.), but things turn out well in the end.
As the American Civil War begins coming to a close, Cassie learns her brother, who is fighting for the Confederates, has been killed. Her world shatters, and begins spending time in one of their favorite secret childhood play sites. As time progresses, she soon finds out someone has been living there.
The Riverboat Adventures Series by Lois Walfrid Johnson
Libby Norstad is a spoiled 12 year-old girl growing up with her wealthy aunt. However, her father, who is captain of the boat Christina, wants to spend more time with her. Libby soon runs into the mysterious cabin boy Caleb, and the two soon get off on the wrong foot. She wants to get the better of him, but her search leads her tangled in the Underground Railroad and helping a young fugitive and his family escape. This was one of my favorite series in elementary school!
Boys of Wartime: Will at the Battle of Gettysburg
Twelve year-old Will wants to be a drummer in the Union Army, but is instead stuck in his boring home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. As the war rages to Gettysburg, Will and his family find themselves caught in the crossfires of battle; including delivering messages, helping slaves escape, and even saving a young soldier’s life.
The Boy’s War by Jim Murphy
The Boy’s War is a large coffee-table style picture book that explores the child soldiers – 16 and under – who fought during the American Civil War. There are both Union and Confederate stories. No story is presented as “on the right side” or “on the wrong side.” It’s simply about a bunch of kids thrust into an adult issue. Told through diaries, letters, journals, and photos, this book provides a wealth of information while being interesting at the same time.
Lincoln’s Last Days by Bill O’Reilly
In a kid-friendly version of Bill O’Reilly’s bestselling Killing Lincoln, Lincoln’s Last Days explores the last days of Lincoln in a way that both kids and adults can enjoy. Unlike Killing Lincoln, violence is toned down, and sexual content is absent making it a great family read.
North Star to Freedom by Gina K. Gorrell
Told from a Canadian perspective, this an informative history spanning from the beginnings of American slavery, to the American Civil War and beyond. I remember reading this book back in elementary school, and loved it!
Also check out Historical Movies for Kids!
What are your favorite American Civil War books?