12 Books to Help Young Readers Learn and Celebrate American History

Books to Help Young Readers Learn and Celebrate American History

Books to educate and inspire the next generation of American history-makers.

An election year for the books and the marker of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, 2020 has seen an unleashing of unrest and unpopular opinions throughout the United States. Parents are raising their kids amid a global pandemic, divisive human rights movements, and political chaos.

In an effort to help educate and inspire the next generation of American history-makers (and in honor of Independence Day on July 4th), we’ve handpicked twelve titles to help young readers better understand and celebrate the true history of the United States.

1. I Am Strong: A Little Book About Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer and Christopher Eliopoulos

I Am Strong

A friendly, fun biography that tells the story of Rosa Parks, the woman who ignited a civil rights movement. Published June 2, 2020, this board book teaches the very youngest readers about one of America’s icons in the series’s signature lively, conversational way.

Ages 2 to 5, Grades K & under

2. Baby’s First United States by DK

Baby's First United States

A virtual road trip across the United States, the historical monuments, iconic landmarks, and national animals of the U.S. Published May 5, 2020, this colorful board book is an easy introduction to American culture for little ones.

Ages 3 & under, Grades P & under

3. Camilla Can Vote: Celebrating the Centennial of Women’s Right to Vote by Mary Morgan Ketchel and Marsha Blackburn

Camilla Can Vote

A charming book that celebrates the tie-breaking vote of the young legislature Harry T. Burn which earned women the right to vote. Publishing July 14, 2020, this book will transport any young reader 100 years back and learn alongside Camilla about the exciting (and controversial!) history of women’s suffrage and the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Ages 4 to 8, Grades P to 3

4. Free for You and Me: What Our First Amendment Means by Christy Mihaly and Manu Montoya

Free For You And Me

“A simple explanation of the rights laid out in the First Amendment,” says Kirkus Reviews. Published March 1, 2020, this picture book demonstrates the meaning of freedom of religion, speech, and the press, and the rights to assemble peacefully and to petition the government.

Ages 4 to 8, Grades P to 3

5. What’s The Big Deal About Freedom by Ruby Shamir and Matt Faulkner

What's the Big Deal About Freedom

This entertaining, fact-filled book celebrates how, with every generation, more and more Americans won the right to live in freedom. Published February 11, 2020, the School Library Journal calls this installment of the award-winning series “an effective place for children to begin learning about the concept of freedom.”

Ages 6 to 9, Grades 1 to 4

6. The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America’s Presidents by Kate Messner and Adam Rex

The Next President

“Ingeniously structured around inaugural years, [The Next President]’s softly textured digital vignettes are montaged to give a sense of events unfolding in many places and lives at once. readers may be convinced that the future is wide open-presidentially speaking.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review. Published March 24, 2020, Chronicle Books has crafted a picture book perfect for teachers, librarians, and other educators to give their students an overview of American presidents.

Ages 8 to 12, Grades 3 to 7

7. What Is a Presidential Election? by Douglas Yacka, Who HQ, and Robert Squier

What is a Presidential Election

A timely book from Who HQ all about presidential campaigns and American politics—complete with stickers, activities, and a color-your-own Electoral Map poster. Published June 30, 2020, this official guide to the 2020 presidential election is a must-read for young readers who want to learn all about what it takes to run for—and win—the most powerful job on earth.

Ages 8 to 12, Grades 3 to 7

8. Finish the Fight! The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote by Veronica Chambers and The Staff of the New York Times

Finish the Fight

“This informative book takes a refreshingly inclusive approach to the history of women’s voting rights in the United States…profiling leaders who have represented minorities and describing the particular challenges they have faced as they worked to promote women’s suffrage.” —Booklist, Starred Review. Publishing August 18, 2020, this illustration-infused book is perfect for fans of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls and Bad Girls Throughout History.

Ages 8 to 12, Grades 3 to 7

9. History Smashers: Women’s Right to Vote by Kate Messner and Dylan Meconis

History Smashers

Through illustrations, graphic panels, photographs, sidebars, and more, acclaimed author Kate Messner smashes history by exploring the little-known details behind the fight for women’s suffrage. Publishing July 7, 2020, this well-designed book is another great educational title for pre-teens to help them learn how women earned their right to vote.

Ages 8 to 12, Grades 3 to 7

10. A Black Woman Did That by Malaika Adero and Chanté Timothy

A Black Woman Did That

A spotlight on the vibrant, inspiring black women whose accomplishments have changed the world for the better. Published February 18, 2020, this book lifts the white lens on history and features powerful women and historical figures from Ida B. Wells to Serena Williams to Ava DuVernay.

Ages 10+, Grades 5+

11. The Fierce 44: Black Americans Who Shook Up the World by The Staff of The Undefeated and Robert Ball

The Fierce 44: Black Americans Who Shook Up the World

A dynamic and hip collective biography that presents forty-four of America’s greatest movers and shakers, from Frederick Douglass to Aretha Franklin to Barack Obama. Published December 24, 2019, this collection is a celebration of all that African Americans have achieved, despite everything they have had to overcome.

Ages 10 to 12, Grades 5 to 7

12. We The People: The United States Constitution Explored and Explained by Aura Lewis and Evan Sargent

We The People: The United States Constitution Explored and Explained

“An enlightening addition to upper elementary and middle school collections for its in-depth look at the Constitution and the U.S. government.” —School Library Journal. Published July 1, 2020, this infographic-infused book offers a fresh take on arguably the most significant document of American history complete with powerful illustrations, easy-to-understand excerpts, and more.

Ages 10 to 14, Grades 5 to 9

Find more recommendations for the young readers in your life with our 2020 Summer Reading Guide

2020 Summer Reading Guide


This post was written by Danielle Brown, Ecommerce Specialist at BookPal. She is currently reading Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.

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