Using Literature to Teach American History in Elementary School

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literature to teach american history


Many of us use a curriculum to teach history, but using literature to teach history can be a great teaching tool. I am continuing this history literature series with some of the best books to teach American history. Using literature to teach history illuminates the time period, helps integrate the history curriculum, and enriches social studies. With my love for literature and history, it only makes sense to combine the two so I have gathered some of my favorite books that teach American history in elementary school.

If You Were Me and Lived in the American West by Carol P. Roman introduces students to the civilization of the American West. Students learn what kind of food you might eat on the Oregon Trail, the clothes you wore in the American West, what your name could be in the 19th century, and what children did for fun once their many chores were done.

Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac takes students back in time to the year 1620 when an English ship called the Mayflower landed on the shores inhabited by the Pokanoket, and it was Squanto who welcomed the newcomers and taught them how to survive. When a good harvest was gathered, the people feasted together – a tradition that continues today.

The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh is based on a true story. In 1707, young Sarah Noble and her father traveled through the wilderness to build a new home for their family. “Keep up your courage, Sarah Noble,” her mother had said, but Sarah found that it was not always easy to feel brave inside. Sarah was only eight, and the dark woods were full of animals and strange new sights and sounds. As she cares for her father and befriends her neighbors, she learns that to be afraid and to be brave is the greatest courage of all.

Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #11: American Revolution by Mary Pope Osborne is a nonfiction companion to the Magic Tree House #22: Revolutionary War on Wednesday. When Jack and Annie got back from their adventures in Magic Tree House #22: Revolutionary War on Wednesday, they had lots of questions. What was it like to live in colonial times? Why did the Stamp Act make the colonist angry? Who were the Minutemen? What happened at the Boston Tea Party? Find out the answers to these questions and more as Jack and Annie track the facts.

The Fourth of July Story by Alice Dalgliesh takes readers back to the revolutionary times, back to the colonists’ desire for freedom and the creation of the Declaration of Independence. Simple text captures the excitement of the era, telling how word of independence travelled up and down the thirteen colonies, touching the lives of everyday people throughout the land.

These are only a few of my favorite books that teach American history; there are so many more out there! Feel free to share in the comments what you consider the best book to teach American history.


Welcome to My Happy Homeschool! My name is Susan Reed and my heart’s desire is to encourage the homeschool mom to live out God’s calling and stay the course.


literature to teach american history

1 Comment to “ Using Literature to Teach American History in Elementary School”

  1. Krysten Traylor says :Reply

    I think the Little House on the Prairie series is a great book for American History.

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).