The Top 3 Best Historical Novels for Young Adults

I’m a history buff. My interest in history started when I was young and has continued to grow. I love to visit historical sites, read historical books, and watch historical films. Since my love began when I was young, I believe it is important to expose children and young adults to what has happened in the past. One way to do this is by letting them read historical books. For this month, I have gathered some of my beloved historical novels for young adults.

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson

This biography by James L. Swanson brings young readers the story of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and the capture of his assassin, John Wilkes Booth, and Booth’s co-conspirators. Swanson uses archival material, trial manuscripts, primary sources, and interviews of the time period to bring the twelve-day manhunt of John Wilkes Booth to life. In addition, readers are given pictures and facts about those involved, the important locations, such as Fords’ Theatre, as well as, newspaper articles and advertisements from April 1865. Chasing Lincoln’s Killeris geared towards young adults, sixth grade and older. However, it is also a favorite among adults. I read the novel this past summer and learned facts about this important time period in American history that I never knew. However, a great alternative for a true adult version is Swanson’s bestseller, Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Number the Stars is a historical fiction novel based on the Holocaust during World War II. Main character ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen lives in Denmark with her family. When the German troops come to town to “relocate” all the Jews, Annemarie’s family takes in her best friend, Ellen Rosen and pretends that she is Annemarie’s late older sister, Lise. Young readers learn about another side of the Holocaust through the Johansen’s actions and involvement in the Danish Resistance. During this time, the Jewish population in Denmark were relocated to the neutral ground of Sweden to avoid being sent to the concentration camps. In fact, Lise was killed by the Nazis for working with the resistance. Number the Stars draws readers into a story of heroism and pride. It is also a tale of friendship and doing good in a time of war. Fact fun: author Lois Lowry created the title to reference Psalm 147:4. As Lowry says, “God has numbered all the stars and has named each of them.”

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

This #1 New York Timesbestseller and young adult read is perfect and relevant for 2019, because it has been 50 years since the Apollo 11 mission and man’s first walk on the moon on July 16, 1969. Author Margot Lee Shetterly describes in vivid details the story of four African American women making their mark in NASA history. These women, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, worked as mathematicians and “human computers” for NASA, meaning they created and solved equations and calculated numbers and flight paths that would send rockets and astronauts into space. Segregated at work, these women’s mathematical skills impressed their mostly white and male counterparts and allowed many of them to be promoted from human computers to engineers and computer programmers. Their careers spanned from World War II, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Space Race. Hidden Figures is a must-read for not just history fans, but for everyone.

From the Civil War to World War II and then to the Space Race, these historical novels cover a wide span of history and are a must-read for young adults.

xoxo,

Megan

 

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2017 Top Book Reviews

I’m always up for a good book and I’m always on the lookout for my next read. Each year, I keep a list of all the novels I’ve read and whether or not I liked them. However, I request the assistance of reviews to help me pick out a book. These reviews are helpful and give me insight into what the story is about. So, I decided to do the same with the top three books that I read in 2017.

Kid Carolina: R.J. Reynolds Jr., a Tobacco Fortune, and the Mysterious Death of a Souther Icon by Heidi Schnakenberg 

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My hometown, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is greatly influenced by the legacy of R.J. Reynolds and his family. Reynolds helped build the town back in the early 20th century. I have a deep fascination for this family and the events that occurred in their lives. After reading The Gilded Leaf in 2016, I became interested in learning more about the life of R.J. Reynolds Jr.

The book Kid Carolina is a detailed biography of Dick Reynolds’ personal relationships and demons, careers in politics and business and his love for the sea and sky. Schnakenberg goes above and beyond in covering all aspects, from his childhood to his death, which still remains a mystery, and how he earned the nickname “Kid Carolina” as a teenager. If you are a historical nonfiction lover, you’ll definitely enjoy this read.

4.5 stars out of 5

Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World by Max Lucado 

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This book came into my life at just the right time. As many of you know, I have depression and anxiety. New York Times bestselling author Max Lucado put the words of God that I needed to hear into writing and has helped me create a better balance in my life. Lucado provides readers with a map of trusting in God to ease worries and promote a sense of thankfulness. If you are struggling with the stress of daily life or could use some calm in a chaotic world, this book is perfect for you. Plus, Proverbs 31 Ministries has a great Bible study to go along with your reading – I’m looking forward to completing it again!

5 stars out of 5

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

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As I’m currently studying for my graduate certificate in middle grades education, I’m learning more about the lives and developmental needs of young adolescents. After seeing the trailers for the movie, I thought it would be a good decision to read the book, Wonder, to compliment my studies. This novel is centered around August Pullman, a boy with facial birth defects. August, also known as Auggie, is entering the fifth grade and a public school for the first time. Palacio gives an excellent description of Auggie’s life, his family and their challenges, and how Auggie teaches his fellow classmates respect and empathy for others. In addition, Wonder started the #ChooseKind campaign and has taught others to spread kindness to everyone around them (you know I’m all about spreading kindness in the world). Let’s just say I’ll definitely be teaching this book in my classroom.

4 stars out of 5

xoxo,

Megan

 

Book Review: The Nightingale

  
I love period pieces; books that reflect certain times in history. So, when my colleague recommended the book, The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah, I knew I had to read it. Five pages into the book, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down.

The Nightingale focuses on a family living in France during World War II. Sisters Vianne and Isabelle Mauriac are pulled into multiple directions as their home country is placed under Nazis occupation. Vianne’s husband, Antoine, is sent to the front, leaving Vianne and her daughter at home. The two are soon forced to live with the enemy after their home is taken over by Germans. As the years of war continue, food, money, and hope become scarce. Vianne finds herself risking her life to save those she loves.
As for eighteen-year-old Isabelle, she fights the war in a different way. She joins the Resistance, where she takes hundreds of soliders to neighboring countries’ borders, saving their lives while putting her’s in danger. 

Bestselling author Kristin Hannah writes a story of courage, bravery, and family. She tells the unknown side of World War II: the women’s war on the homefront. Sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, are opposites in their beliefs and ways to fight the Nazis, but in the end each of them hold onto the values of strength and family to survive in war-torn France.

xoxo,

Megan