Thursday, September 29, 2016

Picture History

By Suzanne Morgan Williams

Historical fiction isn't just for middle grade readers. There's plenty of it for young adults and adults. But are there historical fiction books for our youngest readers? There are legends and folk tales about world cultures. There are some tall tales. But I can't think of many historical fiction picture books. Can you?Some, like Drum Dream Girl  are based on fact but fictionalized. Perhaps there are enough true stories to give our youngest readers a basic sense of history. After all, you have to know a bit about history to identify what is and isn't fictional.

But there are plenty of good nonfiction picture books, and told in the best way, their stories are as engaging as fiction. Here are few of my favorite nonfiction picture books from my collection. Enjoy

Pow-Wow is Coming, written and illustrated by Linda Boyden (this is contemporary but  a favorite)
My Name Is * Me Llamo Gabriela; the Life of Gabriela Mistral by Monica Brown, illustrated by John Parra
Iron Horses by Verla Kay, illustrated by Michael McMurdy
Hanging Off Jefferson's Nose, Growing Up on Mount Rushmore by Tina Nichols Coury, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
Drum Dream Girl, How One Girl's Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael L√≥pez
Harvesting Hope, the Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Yuyi Morales
Go Singing into the World; The Story of Pablo Neruda written and illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray
The Christmas Coat, Memories of My Sioux Childhood by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, illustrated by Ellen Beier.
Ellington Who Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Moses; When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carol Boston Weatherford illustrated by Kadir Nelson
The Jade Stone, A Chinese Folktale, adopted by Caryn Yacowitz, illustrated by Ju-Hong Chen


  1. Yes! Picture books are a great way to introduce all ages to historical content.

  2. They are indeed. I bought one entitled 'You Wouldn't Want to Build the Great Wall of China'. I apologise that I cannot recall the author's name, since I sent the book to my grandchildren on the other side of the country. I remember the drawings were very detailed.