The Ultimate List of Children’s Books about Massachusetts
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Children’s Books about Massachusetts: Massachusetts Picture Books and Read-alouds
Girl Running: Bobbi Gibbs and the Boston Marathon, by Annette Bay Pimentel
This is an excellent book about equal rights and opportunities – really relevant to discussions to today. Bobbi Gibbs was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, and she did so illegally. Even after she completed the race, the officials were not sure whether to give her credit for completing it – because women can’t run 26 miles, don’t you know?
By entering the race, Bobbi Gibbs broke the circular logic of what women could or couldn’t do, and created the entire field of women’s running and female athletes in long-distance sports. A book for Boston Marathon season in April.
Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McClosky
See familiar sights in this picture book about Boston. A family of ducklings walks through the town.
Poetry for Young Kids: Emily Dickenson, by Emily Dickenson, Edited by Susan Snively
Emily Dickenson was a prolific poet and an introvert. Her poetry works well with kids, who may find that they are “nobodies, too” There’s a pair of us, you know.
1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving: A New Look at Thanksgiving (National Geographic), by Catherine O’Neill Grace
Massachusetts had the first famous Thanksgiving, in 1621. This book is the resource on that time frame I most recommend to parents trying to prevent a fictionalized Pilgrim narrative from being the history their children are taught.
The author Russell Peters is Mashpee Wampanoag, and this book follows Steven Peters, a child preparing the Wampanoag tradition of a clambake in Southern Massachusetts.
Children’s Books about Massachusetts: Chapter Books about Massachusetts
This book is slightly different than the Jasper Jonathon Pierce version in that it focuses a lot more on the time after arrival from the Mayflower. The hardships are not glossed over – the main character’s mother dies, and her father remarries. There is hunger and struggle, everyday concerns, and historical information on Separatist and Pilgrim beliefs. A historical fiction book about Plymouth Colony, in the time before Massachusetts Bay Colony was established.
The Dear America Series is roughly for grades 4 – 7.
This book about the Salem Witch Trials starts with the main character, Deliverance Trembley, believing the accusations. Over time, she becomes less and less sure of the crimes being accused of commiting. She also fears that she may become the next witch among the accused – due to tense family struggles between he and her sister. In the end, the Salem Witch Trials crisis ends, and the sister is glad not to have falsely accused Deliverance of the crime.
Note: This book about the Salem Witch Trials is out-of-print, yet still popular. If you have trouble finding a used copy (which do generally sell for about $10), I would recommend looking for the Kindle ebook. That is a cheaper option – it sells for about half the price of the hardcover.
Learn about an Irish girl who immigrates to America, then enters into work at a textile mill in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1847. The mills were tough places to work
This book is really sad. Really, really sad at the end. But good, too! If this book inspires an interest in life in the mills, the Vermont books have more engaging books for children about child labor and mill work. This book is for grades 4 – 7, or ages 8 – 12.
Children wanting an introduction into the Vietnam War will enjoy this book about Boston Red Sox fan, Molly MacKenzie Flaherty, who has a brother overseas in Vietnam, while she volunteers at the veterans VA hospital back at home. She chronicles the anti-war protests happening in Boston, as well as the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy.
The book also has a companion book, by Molly’s brother: The Journal of Patrick Seamus Flaherty: United States Marine Corps, Khe San Vietnam 1968 as he is stationed overseas while away from his family in Boston.
This historical fiction book is great for students in 4th through 8th grade, and is Molly’s book is one of the more relatable in the Dear America series as she was born around 1954.
A boy who is orphaned signs up to be an indentured servant on the Mayflower. This book discusses the treacherous ship conditions, as well as the Mayflower Compact. After the narrative, it goes into a historical footnote to explain even more. For children ages 8 to 12. (This book may not be selling new, but used copies exist for about $5)
The American Revolution has not yet begun, but William Thomas Emerson is there in Boston discussing the day-to-day life issues that make the Bostonians want to fight back. Learn about life in 1774 with this book for ages 8 – 12. (Again, it may not be selling new, but lots of used copies exist for around $5.)
This series of Interactive History Adventures is similar to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels from childhoods past. The text is simplified – written for third grade readers – and it is highly engaging. As you read, you are left to make choices, and the conclusions tell you what happened to people in real life who had made those same actions.
The What would you do? element of these books really helps children soak up the connected historical knowledge being presented. They also do not shy away from historically unhappy endings in the books – this book series can be like playing The Oregon Trail at times.
This book about the Boston Massacre looks at the situation from three perspectives – a British soldier, a townsperson, and an American rebel.
This book follows the choices of three perspectives: a British soldier, an American patriot, and an American townsperson there to witness the events.
The Battle of Bunker Hill was one of the first battles in the American Revolution, and its strategic signicance in the battle was over control of high ground (Bunker Hill). As such, this book has beautiful maps that explain how the battle took place. Learn about American history while reading an adventure novel where you make the choices. This book is well-loved by 3rd grade readers, and is great for ages 7 to 12.
Massachusetts Vocabulary to Highlight:
Puritans, Pilgrims, Separatists
Salem Witch Trials
Battles of Lexington and Concord (“shot heard round the world”)
Boston Red Sox
Boston Marathon (Bobbi Gibbs being first woman to run)
Children’s Books about Massachusetts and all 50 states. Which state will you read about next!
Here you will find books about Massachusetts and all 50 states.