T Nation

Good History Books for Young Teens


My 13 year old daughter has, over the last 2 years, shown an increasing interest in world history, so far as to tell me that she wants to be a history teacher when she grows up.

I am a history buff myself(nearly double majored in Eastern European History while in college), and am thrilled that she has shown an interest in this.

I love the questions she asks me and the discussions it leads to.

I want to encourage and nurture this...

I chose to post this here because there are lots of smart very well read people on this forum...

any suggestions as to good books for younger readers that she might enjoy?

PS: please leave any partisan bickering out of this thread...I welcome liberal, conservative, and libertarian/moderates suggestions.

thank you...


I haven't read it but Will Durant comes to mind.



cool that your daughter are interrested in history :smiley:

I would recommend "out of many" if she is into american history. do only know the title.

another one would be "the origin of the modern world" by an american historian named Robert. Marks ( not marx LOL ). Its a bit "political", but its written in a loose and funny way. Hes point is to break the eurosentristic historian perception.

If she is into Indian history: INDIA by D.R.Sardesai is wery informativ.

edit: this are books for students in university, but if she is smart it shouldt be a problem.


thanks! I will check these out...

keep them coming!


I've heard mixed things from people about Howard Zinn's, People's History of America. Personally, I enjoyed it and thought it well-written.
Not really a history book but Count of Monte Cristo has some history in it.
Another not entirely a history book that is ok, Guns, Germs, and Steel. It's about why Europeans conquered the Americas, and not vice-versa.
I would check out (auto)biographys as well, as those can have a lot of valuable first-person historical information about a culture/country.


Quoted for truth. Read it in high school and like to skim through it every once in a while. Like Matty mentioned; it does have mixed reviews, but it would be an excellent starting point.
Not really history more like historical, but i would suggest the Prince by Machiavelli. I think teens should read it to help them understand more deeper level of "Why's" rather than the shallow how and whens. My 2 cents


If you are able to find a english translation, Check out the triology "the history of bestiality"
by the norwegian author jens bjoerneboe.

book 1: "frihetens oeyeblikk" in english I guess its named "the moment of freedom" or something similar.

book 2: "krutt-taarnet".

book 3: "stillheten" or in english: "the silence"

Its wery dark, so you might want to read it yourself before you hand it to her.

Its filled with discriptions of torture and weird sex. perhaps not the best book for a child.

here is a link from wikipedia about the author.

and here is a link from wikipedia about the triology.




He asks for history books for his 13 year old daughter and you suggest "A history of bestiality"?

I approve.


more of a suggestion for everybody here on the forum.

Its perhaps one the best books I have read and its history-ish, so I wanted to put it out there.



just, wow.

what a way to derail an otherwise innocent thread.


I am currently reading "A Peoples History of America" though obvious which side of the aisle the author is coming from...still an interesting read.


Most of what has been posted here is a little to advanced for a 13 year old. I guess I am looking for more fun introduction type material that will get her into reading more about history, perhaps even some historical fiction...


sorry if you felt I derailed you tread, but to make it up to you I will add a link
with a suggestion for a book series of historical fiction or fantasy.

Its in short a new version of the arthur legend or a celtic version. The author tries
to make it more historical correct than the older legends, but it is also a fantasy tale
with magic and elves, so take it for what it is. read it when I was a teen myself and enjoyed
it and it sparked a interrest in older history.


If she was a boy I would suggest James Clavell and Mika Waltari, but since she is a girl she probably likes horses and flowers and everything pink.


In addition his science fiction, Isaac Asimov wrote a good bit on European history. I read some of it as a youth (7th/8th grade). I can't recommend any specific books, because I don't remember them. I personally just read them because I was amazed the guy that invented the three laws of robotics also wrote about stuff that actually happened.

Point is, he writes in a conversational style thats easy to get into, and he covers history. Would recommend, though probably wouldn't read again (because I'm not THAT into history).


So true. I dont agree with him all the time but its interesting to see him fight it out with Sidney Hook. While I dont agree with some things I like to see both sides of the spectrum esp when its Zinn and Hook. Seeing the bigger ppicture concept ya knowwww?
Robert Diclerico Points of View, is a schoolbook but it provides both sides of the spectrum (sometimes 3 sides). An excellent view into American Politics by examples rather than theories in a very simple manner (direct comparisons), but idk how it would do for a 13yr olds. Read it when I was 15 but you would need to have some basic backround in American Politics.


Caribbean and Poland written by James A. Michener are historical and amazing reads. I would recommend Caribbean and if she likes the style then she should read Poland.
Fyi- Although many of the characters aren't real, almost all places and events are in these books are historical.


thanks Frosh...going to check that out right now...


frosh....just skimmed some reviews of Caribbean... looks good...

also seeing how my side of the family is of Cuban heritage...it should be quite interesting to her!


being a eastern european history buff myself...I think I might read Poland for myself.


Shogun by James Clavell was almost enough to give me an A in East Asian History. Fantastic book. I read it in grade 7 but I am a boy. I don't wanna be mean, but the earlier you get used to reading boring shit the sooner you can actually get somewhere in history.

Although, "Guns, germs, and steel" is probably the most understandable and easily subscribed too version of historical thought I have come across.