Historical Picture Books

Some of the best illustrations aren't realistic, at least not in the way the Digital Age generation has come to define realism (i.e., as perfect photographic replication). And we're not promoting Modern Art, either: far be if from us to prefer squiggles or big shapeless color patches to depictions of actual landscapes and people. What we are promoting is the exercise of the artist's art and skills, not simply as an imitator, but as a revelator and interpreter of facts.

This emphasis on artistic creativity has largely informed our selection of historical picture books. Do all of the d'Aulaire illustrations perfectly resemble key figures and events of the past? Not at all, but they do consistently capture the spirit of American history and historical figures, portraying each as they were perceived and not necessarily how they actually were. Purists may balk at this approach, but rest assured that the textual content of these books is accurate and trustworthy.

Which brings us to one of the essential aspects of history study: interpretation. If it's pure authenticity you want, photographs will do just fine, whether of individuals, places, artifacts, or buildings. But facts are only one side of history, and as far as one's worldview goes, probably not even the most important part. Not that you can do without them, but learning to read the facts and interpret them is the only reason learning about the past is a worthwhile endeavor.

Good historical picture books can help you cultivate this skill, especially when teaching younger students who aren't ready to make abstract connections between seemingly disparate facts. For instance, a picture book about the American Civil War could simply depict images of battle....or, the artist could use dark colors and heavy strokes to show both the evils of warfare as well as the deep racial themes and animosities shared by both sides throughout the War Between the States.

Some of our favorite books of the latter kind are those by Ingri and Edgar d'Aulaire. Each of these volumes is dedicated to an important American historical figure like Abraham Lincoln, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Leif Erickson, and each is well-known for its lovely lithograph prints. The accompanying text is poetic and accessible, offering a child's-eye view of people history has generally turned into mythic characters.

In a similar vein, though with cartoon-y illustrations, the Jean Fritz books are perennially popular, and justly so. These are a little more fact- and text-heavy, though still written in story form, and often focus on the more eccentric elements of famous peoples' personalities. Many of the figures covered in this series are heroes of the American War for Independence, and make excellent supplements to a study of the Colonial and New Nation eras.

A newer series from Banner of Truth Trust is destined to be among our favorites: the Heroes of the Faith books by Sinclair B. Ferguson, a Presbyterian pastor and theologian. Each book covers a covers an important church father (Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Irenaeus) and is illustrated with somewhat stylized full-color pictures. Kids are introduced to famous saints, as well as to their basic ideas and significance, all in a format they'll welcome.

There are so many other excellent historical picture books we'd like to introduce you to, but it's probably easier for us and you to just let you browse our collection. For the most part, only narrative histories (history in story form) have made their way into this category, though there are a few exceptions. The important thing to remember is that it's never too early to introduce kids to the study of the past, and when they're particularly interested in pictures is as good a time as any to start.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.

 

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598 Items found Print
¡Viva México!
by Argentina Palacios, illustrated by Howard Berelson
from Raintree Steck-Vaughn Publishing
for Kindergarten-2nd grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$2.80 (1 in stock)
A Weed Is a Flower
by Aliki
Reprint from Aladdin Paperbacks
for Kindergarten-3rd grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$2.80 (3 in stock)
Abe Lincoln Goes to Washington
by Cheryl Harness
from National Geographic
Picture Book Biography for 2nd-4th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
Abraham Lincoln
by Edgar & Ingri D'Aulaire
75th Anniversary Edition from Beautiful Feet Books
Picture Book Biography for 3rd-6th grade
1940 Caldecott Medal winner
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$15.26
Abraham Lincoln (hardcover)
by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire
from Beautiful Feet Books
Biography for 1st-6th grade
1940 Caldecott Medal winner
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$18.66
Abraham Lincoln (hardcover)
by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire
Biography for 1st-6th grade
1940 Caldecott Medal winner
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$14.40 (1 in stock)
Adoniram Judson: A Grand Purpose
by Renee Meloche
from YWAM Publishing
for 2nd-4th grade
in Heroes for Young Readers (Location: BIO-HERO)
$3.60 (2 in stock)
African-Americans in the Thirteen Colonies
by Deborah Kent
from Children's Press
for 2nd-6th grade
in Cornerstones of Freedom (Location: VIN-CORN)
Alexander Graham Bell
by Elizabeth MacLeod
from Kids Can Press
Biography for 3rd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
Alvin Ailey
by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illustrated by Brian Pinkney
from Hyperion Books for Children
for Preschool-3rd grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$4.80 (1 in stock)
Amazing Impossible Erie Canal
by Cheryl Harness
from Aladdin Paperbacks
Historical Non-Fiction for 3rd-6th grade
in Western Expansion (1800-1898) (Location: HISA-19WES)
$7.99 $5.00 (1 in stock)
Amazing Life of Benjamin Franklin
by James Cross Giblin
from Scholastic Inc.
for 1st-4th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$6.79
Amazing Mind of Granville Woods
by Maggie Felsch; illustrated by Kessler Garrity
from The Good and the Beautiful
for 2nd-4th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
Amelia Earhart - Coloring Book
by Muriel Earhart Morrissey
from Bellerophon Books
for 3rd-7th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
America Travels
by Alice Dalgliesh
from Macmillan
for 1st-3rd grade
in Cultural History (Location: HISMC-CUL)
America's Champion Swimmer
by David A. Adler; illustrated by Terry Widener
from Gulliver Books
for Kindergarten-2nd grade
in Picture Books (Location: PICTURE)
$4.80 (1 in stock)
America's Ethan Allen
by Stewart H. Holbrook
9th printing from Houghton Mifflin
Picture Book Biography for 4th-6th grade
1950 Caldecott Honor Book
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
America's Lost Dream
by Tom Dooley
from Master Books
American History for 4th-6th grade
in America's Christian Heritage (Location: HISA-CH)
$12.79 $10.00 (2 in stock)
America's Paul Revere
by Esther Forbes
from Sandpiper Books
Biography for 2nd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$11.04 $6.00 (2 in stock)
America: A Patriotic Primer
by Lynne Cheney
from Simon and Schuster
for Preschool-2nd grade
in American History Reference (Location: HISRF-US)
$5.00 (2 in stock)
Amy Carmichael: Rescuing the Children
Heroes for Young Readers
by Renee Taft Meloche
from YWAM Publishing
Biography for 2nd-4th grade
in Heroes for Young Readers (Location: BIO-HERO)
And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?
by Jean Fritz & Margot Tomes
from PaperStar Books
Biography for 2nd-4th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: HISA-18REV)
$7.99 $4.50 (3 in stock)
And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?
by Jean Fritz & Margot Tomes
from Scholastic Inc.
Biography for 2nd-4th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: HISA-18REV)
$2.00 (1 in stock)
Animals Robert Scott Saw
by Sandra Markle
from Chronicle Books
for Kindergarten-3rd grade
in 20th Century Exploration (Location: HISW-20EXP)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Anselm of Canterbury
Christian Biographies for Young Readers
by Simonetta Carr
from Reformation Heritage Books
for 2nd-6th grade
in Church History for Kids (Location: XCH-KID)
Archaeologists Dig For Clues
Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science Stage 2
by Kate Duke
from HarperCollins
for Kindergarten-3rd grade
in Archaeology (Location: HISRF-ARCH)
$5.99 $4.00 (3 in stock)
Art from Her Heart
by Kathy Whitehead, illustrated by Shane W. Evans
from G.P. Putnam's Sons
for Kindergarten-2nd grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$3.20 (1 in stock)
Art of the New American Nation
by Shirley Glubok
from Macmillan
for 3rd-6th grade
in New Nation (1783-1800) (Location: HISA-18NN)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Athanasius
Christian Biographies for Young Readers
by Simonetta Carr
from Reformation Heritage Books
for 2nd-6th grade
in Church History for Kids (Location: XCH-KID)
Augustine of Hippo
Christian Biographies for Young Readers
by Simonetta Carr
from Reformation Heritage Books
for 2nd-6th grade
in Church History for Kids (Location: XCH-KID)
Bach's Goldberg Variations
by Anna Harwell Celenza & JoAnn E. Kitchel
from Charlesbridge
Biography for 3rd-6th grade
in Music Appreciation (Location: ELE-MUSAP)
$14.41
Bad River Boys
by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, illustrated by Bill Farnsworth
from Holiday House
for Kindergarten-2nd grade
in Lewis & Clark (Location: HISA-19L&C)
$5.00 (1 in stock)
Bard of Avon
by Diane Stanley & Peter Vennema
from William Morrow & Company
Biography for 3rd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$6.79
Beethoven
by Reba Paeff Mirsky
from Follett
for 2nd-5th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
Beethoven's Heroic Symphony (Once Upon a Masterpiece)
from Charlesbridge
for Kindergarten-3rd grade
in Music Appreciation (Location: ELE-MUSAP)
$14.41
Before They Were Authors
from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
for Kindergarten-3rd grade
in Biography Anthologies (Location: BIO-ANTH)
$4.80 (1 in stock)
Benjamin Franklin
by Edgar & Ingri D'Aulaire
from Beautiful Feet Books
Picture Book Biography for 3rd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$15.26
Benjamin Franklin, American Genius
by Brandon Marie Miller
from Chicago Review Press
for 4th-6th grade
in Colonial America (1690-1765) (Location: HISA-17COL)
Between the Lines
by Sandra Neil Wallace; illustrated by Bryan Collier
from Simon and Schuster
for 2nd-6th grade
$10.07 (1 in stock)
Bill Peet
by Bill Peet
from Houghton Mifflin
Biography for 4th-8th grade
1990 Caldecott Honor Book
in Picture Books (Location: PICTURE)
$16.14
Black Elk's Vision
by S. D. Nelson
from Abrams Books for Young Readers
for 3rd-6th grade
in Native Americans (Location: HISA-19NAT)
$12.00 (1 in stock)
Black Hawk
by Joanne Oppenheim
from Troll Publishing
for 4th-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$0.80 (1 in stock)
Blizzard!
by Jim Murphy
from Scholastic Press
for 4th-6th grade
in 19th Century America (Location: HISA-19C)
$8.00 (2 in stock)
Boston Tea Party
by Russel Freedman, Illustrated by Peter Malone
from Holiday House
for 1st-3rd grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: HISA-18REV)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom
by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Michele Wood
from Candlewick Press
for 4th-6th grade
2021 Newbery Honor Book
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
Boy Who Drew Birds
by Jacqueline Davies
New title from Houghton Mifflin
for 1st-3rd grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$15.29
Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
by Bryan Mealer, William Kamkwamba
Reprint from Dial Books for Young Readers
for 1st-3rd grade
in Picture Books (Location: PICTURE)
Boy, a Mouse, and a Spider
by Barbara Herkert, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
from Henry Holt and Company
for Preschool-3rd grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$16.14
Brave Girl
by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
from HarperCollins
for Preschool-2nd grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$7.20 (1 in stock)
Brave Harriet
by Marissa Moss
from Harcourt Children's Books
for Preschool- 3rd Grade
in Picture Books (Location: PICTURE)
$4.00 (2 in stock)
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