Historical Fiction

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The Cure For Dreaming by Cat Winters

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Around this time of year, I like to alert Almanac readers to some new titles, ideal for holiday gift-giving, that they might have missed. Today I want to sing the praises of the second novel by Cat Winters, The Cure for Dreaming. Now, I have been an active part of the children’s book world since […]

20th Century, History, Politics, Social Conscience, Women, Women's Suffrage
Featured on October 29

Seven Stories Up by Laurel Snyder

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Recently I came across an excellent summer reading list pulled together by teacher extraordinaire Mike Lewis. It made me reflect on how some books just beg to be read in the summer. I hope that Laurel Snyder’s new book Seven Stories Up graces many future summer reading lists. In a compelling opening, readers encounter Annie […]

Family, Grandparents, Great Depression, History, Time Travel
Featured on July 28

The Glassblower’s Children by Maria Gripe
Illustrated by Harald Gripe


This week, from April 8-10, marks the London Book Festival, a huge international gathering of publishers who exchange rights for books. At the end of March, children’s book publishers gathered in Bologna, Italy, for the Bologna Book Festival, where the Hans Christian Andersen Medal was announced. In honor of international book exchange I’d like to […]

Featured on April 7

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper

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This week we celebrate Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators week, and I’d like to use the day to talk about an author whom I have admired for more than forty years. As a young Horn Book assistant editor, I read the galleys of the second children’s book by Susan Cooper, The Dark Is Rising, and […]

Colonial America, History, Multicultural, Native American
Featured on February 5

Salt by Helen Frost


On September 5, 1812, the siege of Fort Wayne, Indiana, began, one of the incidents in the War of 1812. As a child growing up in Fort Wayne, I always thought that important American events happened elsewhere, in towns like Boston. And I believed that the Miami people, who had lived for centuries in the […]

History, Multicultural, Native American, War of 1812
Featured on September 5

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm


On July 21, 1899, Noble Prize–winning author Ernest Hemingway was born. Although raised in Oak Park, Illinois, during his later years Hemingway lived in Key West, Florida, and Cuba. This booze hound and bullfighting advocate seems an unlikely candidate for an upbeat and whimsical children’s novel. But in 2010 Jennifer L. Holm used Papa in […]

Award Winning, Family, History, Newbery
Featured on July 21

Curse of the Blue Tattoo by L. A. Meyer

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June has been designated Audio Appreciation Month. Today I am going to talk about an audio series that was recommended to me by my two favorite audio experts: Ellen Myrick, who created the audio section of 500 Great Books for Teens, and Alison Morris of Scholastic. If you are headed out for a road trip […]

Colonial America, History, Women
Featured on June 10

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Illustrated by Trudy White

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May serves as both Personal History Awareness Month and Jewish American Heritage Month. When I saw these events, I immediately thought of one of the most amazing novels of the last ten years, Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief. Although Zusak grew up in Australia, his mother had lived in Munich during the reign of Hitler […]

Award Winning, History, Jewish, Multicultural, Printz, World War II
Featured on May 27

The Wreckers by Iain Lawrence

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Today marks the birthday of Canadian writer Iain Lawrence. He was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Canada, called simply “the Sault,” which is pronounced to rhyme with zoo. Once a year his brother would sing, “Happy Birthday to you. You were born in the Sault.” Possibly this early nonsense verse encouraged Lawrence to seek a […]

Adventure, England, History, Survival
Featured on February 25

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

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Many make reading resolutions for the New Year, and I do as well for the Almanac. Last year, a consulting project I worked on made me painfully aware of how few of our best books for children focus on other than English-speaking countries. So this year I intend to write more Almanac entries with an […]

Award Winning, Family, History, Social Conscience
Featured on January 14

Chickadee by Louise Erdrich


November has been designated Native American Heritage Month.  A perfect book for this month is Louise Erdrich’s fabulous new novel for young readers ages eight through twelve, Chickadee. Several years ago, Erdrich, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa, began a series of books set in the same region as Laura Ingalls […]

19th century, History, Multicultural, Native American
Featured on November 12

Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus

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September has been designed Read a New Book Month. Certainly those headed back to school, whether teachers or students, will probably encounter some new titles in the next few weeks. I’d like to highlight a book just published in 2012: Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus. Margi Preus has published two stellar books in […]

History, World War II
Featured on September 10

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood


The summer in New England has been unbearable a few days in July; but I can always drive down to the ocean for a fresh breeze. Not so in my landlocked childhood state of Indiana. For many of my summers, the community pool provided the only escape from long, hazy summer days. Hence I found […]

Civil Rights, Family, History
Featured on July 30

The Watch that Ends the Night by Allan Wolf

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On July 13, 1864, John Jacob Astor IV was born in Rhinebeck, New York. He would become the richest man in the world—a land developer, inventor, and even author of a science fiction novel. Today Astor is best remembered as one of the victims of the Titanic. He serves as one of the multiple narrators […]

20th Century, History
Featured on July 13

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope
Illustrated by Evaline Ness

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Today marks American Independence Day, the Fourth of July, a time of parades, firecrackers, and outdoor picnics. But every time the Fourth of July comes around, I wonder how much children think about the reason for this holiday. If they don’t, how do we inform them about the American Revolution? Our book of the day, […]

Colonial America, Ghosts, History
Featured on July 4

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

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On June 15, 1836, Arkansas became the 25th state admitted to the Union. Hence today marks Arkansas Admission Day. Certainly in the last part of the twentieth century, Arkansas has loomed large in American politics: It’s the home state of President Bill Clinton and also the site of the highly contested 1957 attempt to integrate […]

Civil Rights, History, School, Social Conscience
Featured on June 15

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

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On February 21, 1916, the German High Command launched an offensive in Verdun, France. It was to become the longest battle of World War I, ending on December 15 of that year, claiming a million men. No matter how many movies I watch or books I read, I still have trouble wrapping my mind around […]

Animals, History, Horses, World War I
Featured on February 21

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

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Last weekend Carnival took place  in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. One of the last great folk festivals, the event continued until Shrove Tuesday. If, like me, you’d love to attend but missed it this year, pick up the book of the day, Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea, to celebrate Brazil and its people. […]

20th Century, Geography, Survival
Featured on February 17

Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone

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On December 20, 1606, three small ships, Susan Constant, Goodspeed, and Discovery departed from London, England, to America. When they landed on May 14 of the next year, the passengers, sent by the Virginia Company, established what would become the first permanent settlement in the United States: Jamestown, Virginia. The characters of this early-American drama—Captain […]

Adventure, History, Pioneer, Survival
Featured on December 20

My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

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October has been designated Reading Group Month by the Women’s National Book Association. All kinds of reading groups have become popular over the last couple of decades: teen book groups, mother and daughter groups, parents and children groups. An ideal pick for book groups and classroom discussions is our book of the day: My Brother […]

Award Winning, Family, History, Newbery, Revolutionary War
Featured on October 27

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko


On October 17, 1931, Al Capone, known as Scarface and the most notorious outlaw in the United States, was finally convicted for tax evasion, a rather dull offense amid his many crimes. Eventually, when a new, completely secure federal penitentiary was completed, Capone, known as prisoner AZ 85, went to live on Alcatraz Island, off […]

Featured on October 17

Morning Girl by Michael Dorris


Today we celebrate Columbus Day. Every now and then a book not only educates you but changes the way you view history. Once you have read it, you cannot see things quite the way you once did. That is how I think about the book of the day, Michael Dorris’s Morning Girl.  Published in 1992, […]

History, Multicultural, Native American
Featured on October 10

Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Paterson

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Today, on Labor Day, I want to highlight a work of historical fiction for children, Katherine Paterson’s Bread and Roses, Too, that will help young readers understand the historical background of the day. As a well-known poster proclaims, “The Labor Movement. The Folks Who Brought You the Weekend.” But almost nothing exists in books for […]

19th century, History, Women
Featured on September 5

Octavian Nothing by M. T. Anderson

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Today I’m looking at another audio book, like The Golden Compass created by Listening Library, for Audio Book Appreciation Month. M. T. Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: The Pox Party has had a profound effect on good seventh and eighth grade readers, although it may be most appreciated by high school students and […]

African American, History, Multicultural, Revolutionary War, Science
Featured on August 26

Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac

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In 1982 the United States Senate designated August 14 as National Code Talkers Day. In his address that day, Dennis DeConcini, an Arizona Senator, said, “Since the Code Talkers’ work required absolute secrecy, they never enjoyed the national acclaim they so much deserved. I do not want this illustrious yet unassuming group of Navajo marines […]

History, Multicultural, Native American, Politics, World War II
Featured on August 14

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

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Seventy-six years ago on July 30, 1935, the modern paperback revolution began when Sir Allen Lane published the first Penguin paperback. I have always been grateful that he was knighted for this achievement—and that in the United States, beginning in the sixties, paperback books for children became a staple of publishing lists. Although I love […]

Award Winning, History, Jewish, Multicultural, Newbery, Politics, Social Conscience, World War II
Featured on July 30

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary Schmidt

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I live in New England. During the month of July many of us in the region, as well as those from far away, seek out the beauty of the Maine coast—canoeing or kayaking in coves, sunlight on the water, baseball games, lobster, and fresh blueberry pie. These are just some of the images we all […]

20th Century, African American, Award Winning, History, Multicultural, Newbery, Printz, Religion/Spirituality
Featured on July 22

The Battle of Bull Run

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From 2011-2015 the sesquicentennial of the Civil War will be celebrated. Although the war began 150 years ago, so many contemporary issues can be discussed with children using the Civil War as a starting place. So over the next year I will highlight some of the best books about this era for young readers. July […]

Civil War, History
Featured on July 21

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Illustrated by Garth Williams


During several July weekends the annual Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant takes place in De Smet, South Dakota. In the town made famous by Mrs. Wilder, the festival includes an outdoor pageant depicting scenes from her life and books. Published in the thirties and called the “books that the Depression could not stop,” Laura Ingalls Wilder’s […]

Family, History, Pioneer
Featured on July 10

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

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Today marks the birthday of Étienne de Silhouette, the French finance minister. In 1759, because of France’s credit crisis during the Seven Years War, he had to impose severe economic demands on the country, particularly the wealthy. Something of an artist, Silhouette enjoyed making cut-paper portraits, and his name became synonymous with these creations. After […]

19th century, Award Winning, History, Newbery, Science
Featured on July 8

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

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July has been designated both Family Reunion Month and National Black Family Month. We all need to take time to celebrate the strengths and virtues of our families. For some writers, their family and their family stories provide the necessary ingredients for great books. Such is the case of our author of the day, Mildred […]

African American, Award Winning, Family, History, Multicultural, Newbery
Featured on July 3

Daily children’s book recommendations and events from Anita Silvey.

Discover the stories behind the children’s book classics . . .

The new books on their way to becoming classics . . .

And events from the world of children’s books—and the world at large.