5 Historical Fiction Books for Time-Traveling 4th and 5th Graders

Ready for a pop quiz? Think back to your first history class. 

You probably had all the essentials—George Washington leading revolutionary militias, Amelia Earhart boldly pioneering aviation, and Neil Armstrong floating across moon rocks. But between the textbook paragraphs, there’s always more to the story. 

What did people like to eat for lunch in 1776? What music did they listen to in 1935? How did kids play after school in 1969? Enter the sparkling imagination of historical fiction!

Show your child that history is more than a list of calendar dates—it’s a rich, fascinating world of people just like them. With our top Club Phoenix historical fiction books, fourth- and fifth-graders will dive with gusto into the past.

Cub – Breaking Glass Ceilings in Groovy Style

Image Source: https://www.workman.com/products/cub

It’s the early 1970s. Bell bottoms, tie-dye, and disco are well and alive. While 12-year-old Cindy is just learning to face the perils of seventh grade (boys, bullies, and awkwardness, anyone?), Cub leads her into a world with even higher stakes—newspaper publishing. 

Guided by a fellow woman reporter, Cindy learns how to stick out in the male-dominated journalism world. Soon enough, she takes her newfound confidence, determination, and bravery to unravel scandals from middle school drama to Watergate. 

Cynthia L. Copeland’s graphic illustrations add extra color to ’70s history, filled with flower-power dresses and headbands. With its empowering and relatable coming-of-age story, Cub is one of the best books for fifth-graders on their path to middle school.

Good Thieves – Searching the Streets of Old Manhattan

Image Source: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Good-Thieves/Katherine-Rundell/9781481419499

To young Vita, New York City is the bustling, thrilling home of her beloved grandfather. But in the glamorous Jazz Age, shady forces lurk around the corner.

When Vita’s grandpa passes away, a real estate tycoon plots to snatch up the old man’s valuable estate. Now, it’s up to Vita to save the day. 

With soaring skyscrapers, deep friendships, and a dash of intrigue, The Good Thieves delivers a gripping tale of family love and retribution in 1920s New York. Break out the detective gear and read along with your adventure-seeking child!

The Okay Witch – A Spooky Allusion to Salem’s Past

Image Source: http://www.emmasteinkellner.com/theokaywitch

Magical powers? What preteen wouldn’t want them? But as Moth Hush soon finds out, being a witch has its share of toils and troubles.

When Moth uncovers her witch powers, she starts a journey of discovery, looking beyond her seemingly-perfect Massachusetts town’s facade to reveal long-lost secrets. With the help of a talking cat and magical journal, Moth begins to unravel her ancestors’ magical history and the stories of her town that don’t quite fit into her history textbook.

A School Library Journal and YALSA awarded graphic novel, The Okay Witch perfectly combines humor, Puritan history, and adolescent angst. Take this mystical adventure for a broomstick ride with your preteen!

The Terrible Two – Flying Through WWII 

Image Source: https://www.harpercollins.com/products/grandpas-great-escape-david-walliams?variant=32207181283362

“In my day, we couldn’t Google anything. We had to go to the library and read actual books to find things out!”

“We know, Grandpa!”

Sometimes, our relatives are the greatest windows to the past, but kids might not yet appreciate their family’s tales of yore. Enter Grandpa’s Great Escape, a high-flying historical tale that will spark a curiosity for the past.

Jack and his Grandpa are the greatest of friends, sharing loves for custard, model airplanes, and Grandpa’s tales as a WWII Spitfire fighter pilot. But when Grandpa starts to slip away into jet-fuelled fantasies, he’s sent off to an old folks’ home. Now, Jack is on a mission to get his best friend back—even if it takes a few liftoffs.

Like the whimsical Roal Dahl, David Walliams has created a topsy-turvy, quintessentially British adventure. They’ll fly through Grandpa’s Great Escape with its heartwarming take on cherishing family and history.

The Egypt Game – Ancient Worlds to Explore

Image Source: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Egypt-Game/Zilpha-Keatley-Snyder/9781416990512

It only takes one connection to make a lifelong friend. And for Melanie and April, that connection is their absolute favorite era of history—ancient Egypt.

Across an abandoned lot, these new best friends explore their historical obsession by inventing The Egypt Game. Soon enough, a few new pals join in on the fun… but Melanie and April begin to wonder just how these mysterious players know ancient Egypt so well. Is the game more powerful than they know?

Bringing the past into the present, The Egypt Game is one of the best chapter books to spark imaginations around fantastic history. 

Have a Blast Through the Past With Historical Fiction

The past is so much richer than just dates and names—it’s a chance for young minds to open their world to all cultures and lives. After all, it’s called history!

With our favorite Club Phoenix historical fiction books, fourth- and fifth-graders will learn that the past is anything but boring. Step into the time machine and let your child’s imagination run wild through history—with a little help from Literati!

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