Travel Back in Time with Teen Fiction

I admit that lots of our Teen books are fantasy or paranormal romance, but hidden among the seemingly endless trilogies are some real gems that can transport you back in time. You won’t be traveling with the use of a time travel machine, but with the help of compelling, thought-provoking historical fiction. These books cover a wide range of time periods and can vary from traditional perspectives to the unexpected to the very strange. As a life-long fan of historical fiction, here are some great choices!

Author M.T. Anderson won accolades in 2015 for his non-fiction Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Seige of Leningrad, but his Young Adult novel The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: the Pox Party won both a National Book Award and a Michael Prinz Award the year it was published.

octavian nothing

Yes, this title is a mouthful, but it is the fascinating and weird story of a slave boy in Boston immediately before the American Revolution. The story was continued in the second volume The Kingdom on the Waves. These books may very well spur you to read more about the plight of American slaves during the Revolution.

Bloodline by Katy Moran and the companion novel Bloodline Rising are set in England during the time of the Angle invasion. Don’t get these confused with the Bloodlines by Richelle Mead which is a vampire series!

bloodline    Bloodline Rising

Geraldine Brooks’ first novel, Year of Wonders, is based on the true story of English villagers who decide to quarantine their town to avoid spreading the Black Plague.

year of wonders

Meghan Nuttal Sayres addresses the role of women in  19th century Iran in the wonderful book Anahita’s Woven Riddle.


If you’re a fan of survival stories, nothing can match this retelling of the 1910 Shackleton Expedition to Antarctica.


Here are some of the best of our Teen World War II novels. After the publication of Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein wrote Rose Under Fire, another story of a female pilot in the war. Ruth Sepetys’ novel Between Shades of Gray was a finalist for the Carnegie Medal, Great Britain’s equivalent of the Newbery and Prinz Awards. Tamar, by Mal Peet won the Carnegie Medal in 2005.

verity     boxing club

between shades     Tamar

History, as taught in schools, focuses heavily on events that had a major impact on the U.S., but historical fiction can open your eyes to things that happened around the world – things you may not have heard of in school.

child of dandelions     disappeared

More and more non-fiction is being published in Graphic Novel format. The 2 book set by Gene Yang about the Boxer Rebellion, Boxers and Saints is truly outstanding!