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This week, we’ll be hosting Global History 10 Honors classes as students select from our extensive collection of historical fiction to read about and research a topic in world history. With almost 400 books to choose from, I can’t highlight them all, so here are my Top 10. All of them were named to the American Library Association’s list of the Best Books for Young Adults.
A Mad, Wicked Folly / Sharon Biggs Waller — In 1909 London, as the world of debutante balls and high society obligations closes in around her, seventeen-year-old Victoria must figure out just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. “There is enough detailed information throughout to make this a useful and fascinating book to pair with nonfiction resources about women’s history.” – School Library Journal
Prisoner B-3087 / by Alan Gratz — Based on the life of Jack Gruener, this book relates his story of survival from the Nazi occupation of Krakow, when he was eleven, through a succession of concentration camps, to the final liberation of Dachau. “This essentially true story is a good starting point for students unfamiliar with the Holocaust. Pair it with Doreen Rappaport’s Beyond Courage (2012) and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl.” – Booklist
A Moment Comes / Jennifer Bradbury — As the partition of India nears in 1947 bringing violence even to Jalandhar, Tariq, a Muslim, finds himself caught between his forbidden interest in Anupreet, a Sikh girl, and Margaret, a British girl whose affection for him might help with his dream of studying at Oxford. “As clashes continue between and within India and Pakistan, this title fills an important niche in YA historical fiction.” – School Library Journal
The Wicked And The Just / J. Anderson Coats — In medieval Wales, follows Cecily whose family is lured by cheap land and the duty of all Englishman to help keep down the “vicious” Welshmen, and Gwenhwyfar, a Welsh girl who must wait hand and foot on her new English mistress. “Addressing the difference between vengeance and justice, the novel is steeped in the details and dialect of the Middle Ages, depicting barbaric events and dramatic inequalities.” – Publishers Weekly
Never Fall Down : A Novel / Patricia McCormick — Cambodian child soldier Arn Chorn-Pond defied the odds and used all of his courage and wits to survive the murderous regime of the Khmer Rouge. “The natural syntax and grammar of Arn’s narration imbues his story with a stunning simplicity and clarity against a backdrop of political chaos, terror, and death.” – School Library Journal
Code Name Verity / Elizabeth Wein — In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can. “Both crushingly sad and hugely inspirational, this plausible, unsentimental novel will thoroughly move even the most cynical of readers.” – Booklist starred review
The Good Braider : A Novel / Terry Farish — Follows Viola as she survives brutality in war-torn Sudan, makes a perilous journey, lives as a refugee in Egypt, and finally reaches Portland, Maine, where her quest for freedom and security is hampered by memories of past horrors and the traditions her mother and other Sudanese adults hold dear. Includes historical facts and a map of Sudan. “Like Mark Bixler’s adult book The Lost Boys of Sudan (2005), this powerful novel tells today’s refugee story from a young viewpoint.” – Booklist starred review
The Berlin Boxing Club / Robert Sharenow — In 1936 Berlin, fourteen-year-old Karl Stern, considered Jewish despite a non-religious upbringing, learns to box from the legendary Max Schmeling while struggling with the realities of the Holocaust. “An unusual story with well-drawn, complex characters, gripping history, and intense emotion.” – School Library Journal
Between Shades Of Gray / Ruta Sepetys — In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother, and brother are pulled from their Lithuanian home by Soviet guards and sent to Siberia, where her father is sentenced to death in a prison camp while she fights for her life, vowing to honor her family and the thousands like hers by burying her story in a jar on Lithuanian soil. “A harrowing page-turner, made all the more so for its basis in historical fact, the novel illuminates the persecution suffered by Stalin’s victims (20 million were killed), while presenting memorable characters who retain their will to survive even after more than a decade in exile.” – Publishers Weekly
Out Of Shadows / Jason Wallace — In 1983, at an elite boys’ boarding school in Zimbabwe, thirteen-year-old English lad Robert Jacklin finds himself torn between his black roommate and the white bullies still bitter over losing power through the recent civil war. “This fast-paced school drama, with issues about guilt, survival, and responsibility, will pull older teens, and adults, too.” – Booklist
Once / Morris Gleitzman — After living in an Catholic orphanage for nearly four years, a naive Jewish boy runs away and embarks on a journey across Nazi-occupied Poland to find his parents. “This Holocaust story taps gut-punching power by contrasting the way in which children would like to imagine their world with the tragic way that life sometimes unfolds.” – School Library Journal
For a complete list of all of our historical fiction titles that are centered on a topic in world history and were named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, click here.