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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384 Items found Print
Abe Lincoln
by Keith Brandt
from Troll Publishing
Picture Book Biography for 4th-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$1.50 (1 in stock)
Abe Lincoln Goes to Washington
by Cheryl Harness
from National Geographic
Picture Book Biography for 2nd-4th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$6.76 $5.00 (1 in stock)
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
Adoniram Judson: A Grand Purpose
by Renee Meloche
from YWAM Publishing
for 2nd-4th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$5.00 (1 in stock)
African-Americans in the Thirteen Colonies
by Deborah Kent
from Children's Press
for 3rd-8th grade
in Cornerstones of Freedom (Location: VIN-CORN)
$1.60 (1 in stock)
Alexander Graham Bell
by Elizabeth MacLeod
from Kids Can Press
Biography for 3rd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$6.76
Alexander Graham Bell
by Elizabeth MacLeod
from Scholastic Inc.
Biography for 3rd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$3.50 (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: HIS-19CAWE)
$7.99
Amazing Life of Benjamin Franklin
by James Cross Giblin
from Scholastic Inc.
for 1st-4th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$6.79
Amelia Earhart - Coloring Book
by Muriel Earhart Morrissey
from Bellerophon Books
for 3rd-7th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
America's Ethan Allen
by Stewart H. Holbrook
from Houghton Mifflin
Picture Book Biography for 4th-6th grade
1950 Caldecott Honor Book
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
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)
$12.00 (1 in stock)
America's Lost Dream
by Tom Dooley
from Master Books
American History for 4th-6th grade
in America's Christian Heritage (Location: HIS-ACH)
$15.99 $10.00 (1 in stock)
America's Paul Revere
by Esther Forbes
from Sandpiper Books
Biography for 2nd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$11.04
America's Paul Revere
by Esther Forbes
from Houghton Mifflin
Biography for 2nd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
America: A Patriotic Primer
by Lynne Cheney
from Simon and Schuster
for Preschool-2nd grade
in American History Reference (Location: HISREF-US)
$5.00 (3 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)
$4.50 (1 in stock)
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: HIS-USREV)
$6.99 $3.50 (2 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: HIS-USREV)
$2.00 (1 in stock)
Andy Warhol
by Mike Venezia
from Children's Press
for 4th-6th grade
in Great Artists (Location: ELE-ARTISTS)
$4.50 (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: BIBR-CHU)
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: HIS-ARCH)
$5.99 $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: BIBR-CHU)
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: BIBR-CHU)
Bach's Goldberg Variations
by Anna Harwell Celenza & JoAnn E. Kitchel
from Charlesbridge
Biography for 3rd-6th grade
in Music Appreciation (Location: ELE-MUSAP)
$13.56
Bard of Avon
by Diane Stanley & Peter Vennema
from William Morrow & Company
Biography for 3rd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$6.79
Battle for Iwo Jima
Cornerstones of Freedom series
by Tom McGowen
from Scholastic Inc.
for 4th-6th grade
in WWII: Pacific Theater (Location: HIS-20CWW2)
Battle of the Little Bighorn
by R. Conrad Stein
from Children's Press
for 5th-8th grade
in Native Americans (Location: HIS-USNAT)
$3.20 (1 in stock)
Beethoven's Heroic Symphony (Once Upon a Masterpiece)
from Charlesbridge
for Kindergarten-3rd grade
in Music Appreciation (Location: ELE-MUSAP)
$13.56
Beggars, Beasts and Easter Fire Stories of Early Saints
by Carol Greene
1st edition from Chariot Victor Publishing
for 4th-6th grade
in Church History Overviews (Location: X-CHUHIS)
$8.00 (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: HIS-USCOL)
Betsy Ross
by Alexandra Wallner
from Holiday House
for 2nd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$6.50 (1 in stock)
Big Golden Book of Boats and Ships
by Patricia Relf
from Golden Books
for 4th-6th grade
in Ships, Boats & Submarines (Location: G6C-HIS)
$5.00 (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)
$15.19
Blizzard!
by Jim Murphy
from Scholastic Inc.
for 4th-6th grade
in 19th Century America (Location: HIS-19CA)
$4.50 (1 in stock)
Blizzard!
by Jim Murphy
from Scholastic Press
for 4th-6th grade
in 19th Century America (Location: HIS-19CA)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Boy Who Drew Birds
by Jacqueline Davies
New title from Houghton Mifflin
for 1st-3rd grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$14.44
Brothers at Bat
by Audrey Vernick
from Clarion Books
for 1st-3rd grade
in Great Depression (1929-1939) (Location: G5D-HIS)
Buck Stops Here
by Alice Provensen
from HarperTrophy
for 1st-6th grade
in American Presidency (Location: G7E-HIS)
$4.50 (2 in stock)
Buck Stops Here
by Alice Provensen
20 Anv from HarperTrophy
for 1st-6th grade
in American Presidency (Location: G7E-HIS)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Buffalo Bill
by Edgar & Ingri D'Aulaire
from Beautiful Feet Books
Picture Book Biography for 3rd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$15.26
Buffalo Hunt
by Russell Freedman
from Holiday House
Historical Non-Fiction for 4th-8th grade
in Native Americans (Location: HIS-USNAT)
Buffalo Soldiers: The Story of Emanuel Stance
by Robert H. Miller
from Silver Press
for Kindergarten-2nd grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$6.50 (1 in stock)
Building of the Great Pyramid
Stories From History
by Colin Hynson
from School Specialty Publishing
for 2nd-3rd grade
in Ancient Egypt (Location: HIS-ANCEGY)
$4.00 (2 in stock)
Can't You Make Them Behave, King George?
by Jean Fritz
from PaperStar Books
for 4th-6th grade
in American Revolution (1765-1783) (Location: HIS-USREV)
$6.99 $4.50 (2 in stock)
Cats in Krasinski Square
by Karen Hesse
1st edition from Scholastic Press
for 2nd-5th grade
in Holocaust (Location: G5E-HIS)
$9.00 (1 in stock)
Civil War
by Geoffrey Ward & Ken Burns
from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
for 8th-Adult
in American Civil War (1860-1865) (Location: HIS-19CACW)
$18.00 (1 in stock)
Cleopatra
by Diane Stanley & Peter Vennema
from William Morrow & Company
Biography for 3rd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$6.79
Columbus
by Edgar & Ingri D'Aulaire
from Beautiful Feet Books
Biography for 3rd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$15.26 $8.00 (1 in stock)
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