Historical easy reader books are a perfect way to build on the easy readers that I shared for boys and the ones that I shared for girls. My children loved these books that I’m going to share with you. It opened up their mind to historical events that aren’t normally mentioned in lessons but are so relatable to children. They will love having these added to their Charlotte Mason homeschool.
Historical Easy Reader Books
I have such fond memories of these books as my children read them as part of their history reading assignments. I enjoyed hearing the stories because I had never heard of them before.
Most of these are still available in the library but that doesn’t mean they always will be.
The books are not in any particular order.
The descriptions are from the author’s explanation. This should help you decide what books to use when if you are following a time period in your history.
Keep the Lights Burning Abby – Based on a true story of an 1856 storm off the coast of Maine, Abbie’s tale is one of endurance and bravery. When her father, the lighthouse keeper, sails off for supplies, he leaves Abbie in charge of lighting the oil lamps in the twin towers of their lighthouse and making sure that they don’t go out. When a huge storm hits, preventing her father from returning for four weeks, Abbie keeps those lamps burning, getting up several times each night to climb the towers to check them, scraping ice from the windows so the lights can be seen at sea. In the course of the storm, she also rescues her chickens from a huge wave, thus saving the family’s only source of food.
The Josefina Story Quilt – In the spring of 1850, Faith’s family begins their journey to California in a covered wagon. Her pet hen, Josefina, “too old to lay eggs and to tough to eat,” keeps her company and shares the hardships on the way. As their wagon crosses a wide river, it lurches, Faith loses her hold on Josefina, and the current nearly sweeps the hen away. Crossing the desert with little food or water, Faith will not trade her pet to the Indians. Later when robbers creep into camp late at night, Josefina squawks loudly. Pa calls her a “humdinger of a watchdog,” but the excitement is too much for the old hen. Faith’s brother buries her beneath a pine tree on the trail, and the heartbroken little girl makes a pine tree patch to remember. Reaching California, Ma helps Faith put together all the patchwork pieces she has made, and the child sleeps under her Josefina story quilt.
Sam the Minute Man – Sam’s family lives on a farm in Lexington, Mass.; one night his father wakes him up and tells him to get his gun, because the British are coming.
The Long Way to a New Land – “We will go to America!”It is 1868, and Carl Erik’s family faces starvation in Sweden. As their hopes fade, they must endure a journey over land and sea to reach a better life in a new country thousands of miles away.
The Long Way Westward – This sequel to The Long Way to a New Land follows a Swedish family traveling west across America to homestead in Minnesota. Their journey is not an easy one: sometimes the cars in the emigrant train have no seats, and in Pittsburgh they have to spend the night on the station floor. But they arrive safely at their destination, happy to have left poverty and famine behind and eager to start afresh in their new land.
Dust for Dinner – Jake and Maggy and their parents live on a farm in Oklahoma where they grow crops, raise animals, and sing and dance to the music on the radio. But when a drought comes and dust storms destroy the land, the family must auction all of their belongings and head to California. They manage to hang on to their radio and their dog as the only reminders of the life they’ve left behind. With the adults working odd jobs, they make their way across the country and are lucky enough to find a better life in California.
Wagon Wheels – In 1878, the three Muldie brother—ages eleven, eight, and three—and their father travel from Kentucky to Nicodemus, Kansas. Living in a dugout like the other black pioneer families, they endure hunger and hardships before spring comes. Ed Muldie leaves the boys to take care of each other while he looks for a better homestead further west. They hunt, fish, and stay in the dugout until their father’s letter arrives months later with a rough map. Following the Solomon River, they make the 150-mile journey. Their courage and resourcefulness keep them safe and bring them to their father.
Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express – The adventures of 16-year-old Bill Cody as he goes to work for the Pony Express. He is chased by thieves, caught in terrible weather, and stalked by wolves, none of which are mentioned in his letters home. The story is fast paced, exciting, and filled with terrific illustrations. Bolognese’s use of heavy black outlined figures, often surrounded only by a large expanse of white page, is very effective. Unfortunately, a serious error appears. Bill travels from Red Buttes to Three Crossings station. When he arrives, he’s told that a rider is sick and he needs to ride an additional 75-mile stretch.
First Flight: The Story of Tom Tate and the Wright Brothers – This easy reader tells the delightful story of young Tom Tate, a boy who assisted the Wright Brothers with experiments for their historic flying machine. The author’s note identifies Tom as a real person and supplies basic facts of his life, but the story focuses only on “Will and Orv’s” visits to Kittyhawk. The fictionalized dialogue is fairly realistic and the story line progresses at an even pace. Bolognese has carefully researched the watercolor illustrations, which are consistent with photographs of the events.
Prairie School – Nine-year-old Noah loves living on the Colorado prairie in the 1880s where he helps his parents with all of the work. When Aunt Dora comes from the East to teach him how to read, he sees no need to do so and refuses to cooperate with her. However, his aunt refuses to give up. She asks Noah to show her the land even though he warns her that her wheelchair may make it difficult to get around. As he wheels her along, she consults the book in her lap and begins to tell him about the natural things around them. Impressed by her knowledge, the child decides to learn to read and write, and realizes that his aunt has opened a world beyond the prairies to him
The Drinking Gourd – Tommy Fuller, a Quaker boy, discovers and assists runaway slaves who were being helped by his father, a conductor of the Underground Railroad. Conversations between Tommy and his father address slaves as property, the Fugitive Slave Law, obeying laws, and trying to change laws.
George the Drummer Boy – George was a drummer boy with the King’s soldiers there. He wanted to be friends with the people of Boston. But they did not like the soldiers. They shouted and threw things at them.
One night, George and the other soldiers were sent on a secret mission. They crossed the river and headed toward Concord. George had no idea that this was the start of the American Revolution.
The 18 Penny Goose – The British are coming! The American Revolution is being fought in the hills around Letty Wright’s family’s farm, and the Wrights must flee to safety. There is no time for Letty to bring Solomon the gander. Letty hopes the British don’t hurt Solomon, but hungry soldiers aren’t known for their kindness. Eight-year-old Letty tries the only thing she can think of to save him—and is as surprised as the other colonists when it works. Based on a remarkable, true story, this unusual tale will linger in the minds of all who read it.
Daniel’s Duck – Daniel is hurt when others laugh at his wood carving, until he learns that giving people pleasure takes a very special gift. ‘Good, warm feelings result from reading this gentle tale set in rural Tennessee during pioneer days.’
Lewis & Clark: A Prairie Dog for the President – In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson sends Lewis and Clark out west to explore. He tells them to make maps. He tells them to draw pictures and collect plants. Most importantly, he tells them to send presents! What kind of present is good enough for a president?
This should get you going in the right direction for providing your young readers with historical easy readers that they will absolutely love.