Make History Come Alive with Books!

A woman reading to a girl in her lap.

A great way for young children to develop an interest in history is through books! Here are some ideas for getting started.

Look for picture and read-aloud books. There are many kinds of children's books about historical people, places, and events at the library. You may wish to look for books related to:

  • your own family history
  • places you have visited (or are going to visit)
  • events and people that your child is studying in school.

Don't forget the fiction

Sometimes a good story is the best way to spark interest in a new topic! Books that are written from a child's point of view or as a children's diary are often popular for young readers.

Ask the librarian for help

If your child develops an interest in a specific event or person, ask the school or public librarian for suggestions of related books.

Look for clues

As you read books about history together, ask your child to look for clues related to the time period. What does he notice about the location, clothes, transportation, and houses? How have those things changed over time?

Look for books about familiar places

When you find a historic painting or photo of a familiar place, ask your child about what things that have changed or stayed the same. Perhaps there is a building where there used to be a park, or perhaps you can find a photo of the old theater downtown when it first opened.

Keep a map and globe nearby

Show your child where the things you're reading about happened, whether it's in your neighborhood or on the other side of the world.

Help older children find chapter books about historical topics

Children who are reading on their own have a wide variety of chapter books to choose from. A number of series books focus on historic themes as well, such as The American Girls and Magic Tree House books.

Look for other kinds of reading material as well

Magazines, posters, kids' newspapers, flash cards, comic books, and graphic novels all can present historic information in a fun way.

Follow up with other activities

When your child develops an interest in a topic from history, look for places to visit related to that topic, such as living history museums or historic sites. You may also be able to find TV shows, movies, and websites with information for kids about history. Look at those resources together so you can talk about what you see and how it compares with the books you've been reading.


U.S. Department of Education: Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs. Helping Your Child Learn History. Washington, D.C., 20202


You are welcome to print copies or republish materials for non-commercial use as long as credit is given to Colorín Colorado and the author(s). For commercial use, please contact [email protected].

More by this author

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.