Time travel books have long been popular in children’s literature. Often, the time-travel itself is the only fantasy element, while both the present world and the past are strictly realistic. In
Susan Cooper’s King of
Shadows, a young actor winds up in Shakespeare’s time. In Kimberly
Little’s The Last Snake Runner, a Native
American boy travels back to the Acoma Pueblo of 1598. These books take place
mainly in the past, as seen through the eyes of a contemporary character.
A few books weave contemporary and past stories together with multiple trips through time. In On Etruscan Time, by
a boy on an archaeology dig visits an Etruscan village 2000 years ago. He and
his friend from the past move between each other’s world several times.
Louise Spiegler’s The Jewel and the Key involves a character traveling back and forth between the early days of the American invasion of
and World War I. Spiegler says, “My subject demanded time travel. I felt a
strong resonance between the two time periods, between the two wars – the
questionable reasons for our involvement, the strong voices raised against it,
the antagonism towards dissent, the curtailment of civil liberties.
“In this case, the advantage over straight historical fiction is the introduction of a perspective that characters who are embedded in their own time period can’t have. My World War I characters can’t know – as my 21st century characters do, for example – that World War I won’t be the war to end all wars.”
In The Golden Hour series, Maiya Williams’s characters travel to periods ranging from the French Revolution to Cleopatra’s
to the California Gold Rush. She says, “I’d
rather write about contemporary people experiencing the
past than write about people who were actually from that time. There are more
opportunities for humor that way, and the narrative is more engaging to the
young reader, with relatable characters to guide them through the history.”
Time Travel History
On Etruscan Time,
Barrett. Etruscan village, 2000 years ago.
The Golden Hour series: The Golden Hour (French Revolution); Hour of the Cobra (Cleopatra’s
Egypt); Hour of the Outlaw (California Gold Rush), by Maiya
King of Shadows,
Cooper. Shakespeare’s time.
The Last Snake Runner, Kimberly Little.
Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico 1598.
This is a small sample. How many other time travel novels for young people can you name?
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Chris Eboch’s novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; and the Haunted series, about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs. Learn more at www.chriseboch.com or her Amazon page.