The Ultimate List of Children’s Books about California
This page about California books for kids contains affiliate links for which I may earn income at no cost to you.
Children’s Books about California
California Children’s Books: World War 2 Internment Camps
When 110,000 Japanese Americans (mostly U.S. citizens by birth) were put into internment camps, the first and most famous camp was Manzanar Internment Center in California. Additionally, Tule Lake was another of the ten camps set up in the United States to take away property, freedom, and movement from Americans of Japanese heritage.
So Far From the Sea, by Eve Bunting
The Bracelet, by Yoshiko Uchida
California Sports Stars: Serena and Venus Williams
The sister tennis champions are from Compton, California. These children’s books about Serena Williams and Venus Williams shows them growing up.
Sisters and Champions: The True Story of Venus and Serena Williams, by Howard Bryant and Floyd Cooper
Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams, by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome
Children’s Books about California: Everyone is Equal
All Equal, Todos Iguales by Christy Hale.
This book discusses an 1931 integration court case in California.
Separate is never equal, by Duncan Tonatiuh.
The 1947 court case that allowed for the end of legal segregration in California, featuring Sylvia Mendez.
California Children’s Books: New Lands, New Homes
Dreamers, by Yuyi Morales.
New Year, by Rich Lo.
A boy moves from Hong Kong to Los Angeles, California and it is time to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
Children’s Books about California: Hope Grows On Trees
Harvesting Hope, by Kathleen Krull, illustrations by Yuyi Morales
Cesar Chavez organized for better human conditions in the fields for the grape workers of California. This book tells his story about working for change.
Harvesting Friends / Cosechando Amigos, by Kathleen Contreras, illustrated by Gary Undercuffler
This book focuses on good food, locally grown, and the friends to be had.
Delores Huerta, by Sarah Warren, illustrated by Robert Casilla
Delores Huerta was a champion for workers’ rights for the migrant farmers in California. This children’s book tells her story of courage.
Between Us and Abuela, by Mitali Perkins.
A girl in California meets up with her grandma in Mexico. They celebrate Christmas together with a family gift exchange at the border, seeing each other after years apart
Children’s Books about California: Famous Californians At Work
Mario and the Hole in the Sky, by Elizabeth Rusch and Teresa Martinez.
Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams, a Life in Nature, by Cindy Jenson-Elliott and illustrated by Christy Hale
This is a book about Ansel Adams, the nature photographer.
Poetry about California
The author, Juan Felipe Herrera, was the Library of Congress’s US Poet Laureate.
Family poems for every day of the week, by Francisco X. Alarcón and Maya Christina Gonzalez
Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women’s Hoops on the Maps by Sue Macy
The year is 1896. The teams are Stanford and Cal. Agnes Morley has the ball, and she leads her team Stanford to victory.
She was a cattle rancher’s daughter, sent to Stanford to learn to “be like a lady”, and instead she put on bloomers and played ball. The final score of the game was 2-1, as scoring wasn’t the same as it is in today’s basketball sport. Also, the games for women’s collegiate basketball had to take place indoors, and men could not attend the games. How scandalous!
Children’s Books about California for Older Students: California Wildfires
This chapter book is a great 1st grade read-aloud, or a book for 2nd through 4th graders. It discusses the California Wildfires that engulfed lots of the state in 2018.
Children’s Books about California for Older Students: American Girl books
Note: American Girl went through some redesigns of their classic books, and in the process made them harder to find. Fortunately, all 6 Julie books are packaged in one audiobook.
Julie: The Big Break is the first of the six American Girl books about California in the 1970s. Julie is growing up in San Francisco, along with her best friend Ivy. Julie is playing basketball, in the era right after Title IX (Title 9) allowed the opportunity for girls and women to play sports. She still faces issues accessing her ability to play basketball, but there is an investment in women’s sports like had never been seen before.
Other books in the series take more of a look into the life of Julie’s best friend Ivy Ling, who celebrates the Lunar New Year and shares her heritage as a second generation Chinese-American. (The American Girl movie about Julie’s San Francisco puts Ivy as the main character)
Movie: American Girl Story: Ivy and Julie, 1976 (in San Francisco, California)
Children’s Books about California for Older Students: World War 2 American Internment Camps
Farewell to Manazanar is a memoir about a Japanese-American girl who was sent to an American internment camp at the age of 7 during World War 2. This book is excellent reading for the middle school and early high school ages (7th to 9th grade).
California Vocabulary to Highlight:
Gold Rush of 1849
Executive Order 9066
Manzanar – about 2/3rds of all people interned in Manzanar were American citizens by birth
Delano Farm Workers Strike
DACA – “Dreamers”
Silicon Valley, tech area
Sacramento – capitol city
Sierra Navada mountains
Hollywood – movie industry in Los Angeles
Children’s Books about California and all 50 states. Which state will you read about next!
Here you will find books about California and all 50 states.