11 Historical Fiction Books for Kids About The American Civil War

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Kids studying the American Civil War benefit from reading historical fiction books because the details, the ambiance, and the significant events become more real through the lens of a memorable story. Here you’ll find my picks for chapter books set in the Civil War time period for readers ages 6 – 13.


For some reason, this time period doesn’t have a wealth of historical fiction chapter books. Weird, right? But, I’ll continue to add to this list if and when I discover more books. (Please let me know any other titles you know in the comments.)


Children’s Books About The American Civil War

Historical Fiction Chapter Books About The American Civil War
John Lincoln Clem Civil War Drummer Boy: Based on a True Story
by E.F. Abbott (ages 6 – 9)
Johnny leads home at age 9 to fight in the Civil War. He begins as a drummer boy and later becomes a soldier. This is an exciting, well-written story made even more interesting because it’s based on a real story.

Historical Fiction Chapter Books About The American Civil War
The Civil War on Sunday
by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Sal Murdocca (ages 6 – 9)
I love this series! It shows kids snapshots of important parts of world history, this time The American Civil War. Jack and Annie travel back in time to the Civil War where they’ll help a nurse named Clara Barton care for wounded soldiers.

Historical Fiction Chapter Books About The American Civil War
I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863
by Lauren Tarshis (ages 7 – 10)
Thomas and his sister Birdie are following the North Star to escape their lives of slavery when they meet a Union soldier. The siblings stay with the army, even when they are ordered to Gettysburg. Fortunately, the battle isn’t depicted as bloody as it truly –was is age appropriate in my opinion. It does give readers some of the major events and issues of the Civil War including slavery.

Historical Fiction Chapter Books About The American Civil War
My America: My Brother’s Keeper: Virginia’s Civil War Diary, Book One
by Mary Pope Osborne (ages 8 – 12)
Did you see the author? Yes, the Magic Tree House author wrote this story. It’s out of print so yo’ll have to find it at the library or used. Virginia “Ginny” writes in her journal about her life her experience living near the location of The Battle of Gettysburg where her brother, Jed, is injured.

Historical Fiction Chapter Books About The American Civil War
Calico Girl
by Jerdine Nolen (ages 8 – 12)
Learn about an little known part of history at the beginning of the Civil War when Fort Sumter became a safe refuge for slaves, dubbed “Freedom’s Fortress” in this story about Callie, a slave slave with a freeman father who learns that Fort Sumter will take them and they’ll be free. Callie and her family flee their plantation home for the Fort. There, the family loses her little brother to sickness yet manages to make themselves a new home. Callie even goes to school for the first time.

Historical Fiction Chapter Books About The American Civil War
Like a River: A Civil War Novel
by Kathy Cannon Wiechman (ages 10 – 13)
This book follows the intersecting stories of two underage kids, Leander and Polly, who both enlist in the Civil War for different reasons. Their journeys are hard: battles, prison, hospitals, and suffering. The teens learn more than they ever imagined about loyalty, friendship, family, and most of call, courage.


Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad!
by Nathan Hale
Boy readers especially like this graphic novel series much more than me but it’s just personal preference –the more sarcastic tone and the violence of the books do not appeal to me personally. And yet, so many kids like these books that I finally decided to add them to this book list. No doubt, these introduce kids to history and can motivate kids to read so those are good things. This particular story takes place during the American Civil War focusing on the ironclad steam warships with the battles, other military aspects of the war, and real people like William Cushing.

Historical Fiction Chapter Books About The American Civil War
Bull Run
by Paul Fleischman
This is one of my favorite Civil War novels. It shows events leading up to it and the actual battle of The Battle of Bull Run from 16 fictional character’s voices. Each chapter is short, written from one person’s perspective, making it a fast-paced read. The different voices give readers a unique, three-dimensional view of what happened. It’s also an easier read than some of the other middle grade books on this list.
civil war historical fiction chapter books for kids
Dactyl Hill Squad
by Daniel Jose Older
Take a thrilling ride through Civil War history — with DINOSAURS! In this exciting adventure with diversity, slavers kidnap most of the orphans in NYC’s Colored Orphan Asylum but the small group of kids that escapes to join with the Vigilance Committee where they fight back and eventually rescue their kidnapped friends. What I LOVE about this book:
* action-packed plot
* both reimagined & actual history
* the diversity of the main characters
* that dinosaurs and dactyls still exist!! — and are used as air, land, and sea transportation
* couldn’t put it down!

Historical Fiction Chapter Books About The American Civil War
Soldier’s Heart
by Gary Paulsen (ages 12+)
War is always, in all ways appalling,” Paulsen writes in the forward. He explains that most men who fought came home profoundly changed (what we now call PTSD), said to have “soldier’s heart.” This is the fictional story of 15-year old Charley who joins the Minnesota Volunteers, not even knowing for what he was fighting but hoping for excitement. He doesn’t get it; only drills, horrors, and survival. Later, at age 19, he’ll return home a very different person. Vivid descriptions set the different scenes — which in a war is nothing pleasant — so just be aware that there is a LOT of gruesomeness.


Historical Fiction Chapter Books About The American Civil War
Rifles for Watie
by Harold Keith (ages 12+)
Have you read this Newbery Medal-winning chapter book? It’s a classic, well-researched historical fiction story about a 16-year old boy named Jeff who joins the Union army in Kansas. Month after month, Jeff’s former eagerness about fighting turns into weariness and permanent hunger. He sees battles and death. Then, he finds himself on the other side with the Stand Watie rebel who led the Cherokee Indian Nation. Jeff’s experiences show the complexities of the two warring sides and the motivations for each group. Warning: There is, not surprisingly, a lot of violence as well as the use of the “n” word.

+ a Nonfiction Book for Kids About the Civil War

Blood and Germs The Civil War Battle Against Wounds and Disease
by Gail Jarrow
Well-researched, detailed, informative, and interesting, discover the history of (terrible) medicine during the Civil War. The format with sidebars, news stories, photographs, and original documents make it appealing to read.

children's chapter books about the Civil War

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  1. We are studying the Civil War now. My son 9 year old surprised me when he picked up A Soldier’s Heart and read it cover to cover in 2 days. I thought it would be one I’d read aloud to him. It definitely kept his attention.

    We are enjoying No Man’s Land right now — a story told from a 14 year old Confederate soldier’s point of view.