25 Great American Novels for Boys and Girls

In the name of instilling American values and principles, and making sure kids have a good grasp of the history of their country, we have collected a list of 30 great American novels for boys and girls. These books span the spectrum from fun adventure to serious history. But every part—the good, bad, and in between—is a vital part of our American history and should be a part of every child’s educational journey. As the saying goes, those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. So grab a book and learn more about this glorious country we call home!

Please note that these lists are only suggestions, and that 1) you must research these titles and determine your own child’s reading level, maturity, and ability to handle certain themes, and 2) anyone can read whatever they like! Reading should be fun, not a chore!

25 Great American Novels

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls

Published: September 19, 1935

The American Spirit through the lens of this book: Documenting the expansion of America and the bravery of the men, women, and children who helped form and develop the small towns that make up the American Midwest. 

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

Published: September 5, 1996

The American Spirit through the lens of this book: The survival and harrowing life story of a young boy and his Irish-immigrant family seeking the American dream during the Great Depression in Brooklyn. 

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Published: 1903

The American Spirit through the lens of this book: Life in the wilds of Alaska during the Gold Rush, this novel explores nature, man’s relationship to it, and the lives of the people exploring the unknown.

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Published: 1961

The American Spirit through the lens of this book: An autobiography of a boy’s childhood and his work to train hunting dogs. Documents perseverance through challenges and grief.

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

Published: 1956

The American Spirit through the lens of this book: A story of American frontier survival and a boy’s experiences as the man of the house. Old Yeller is a timeless tale of a boy and his dog, courage, and love. 

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Published: July 11, 1960

The American Spirit through the lens of this book: A coming of age story about a young girl during a period of societal prejudices. Navigating racism and other failings of human nature, the characters learn what means to stand up for what is right.

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Published: 1976

The American Spirit through the lens of this book: A search for dignity and self-respect during a time of hardship for a close knit, loving family also facing racism. Together, the Logan family is determined to be independent during the Great Depression.

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Winterbound by Margery Bianco

Published: 1936

The American Spirit through the lens of this book: Set during the Great Depression, Winterbound follows four siblings as they work together to be self-sufficient and survive a New England winter without their parents, learning valuable skills and lessons through hardship. 

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

Published: 1935

The American Spirit through the lens of this book: Capturing the tomboy childhood of Caddie Woodlawn, an adventurous young girl who befriends local Indians, the book is a great story about fostering friendships and bravery.

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

The Railroad to Freedom by Hildegarde H. Swift

Published: 1932

The American Spirit through the lens of this book: This book documents the story of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, as well as the amazing men and women who were part of this pivotal and inspiring point in American history.

Available on: N/A

Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington

Published: 1901

The American Spirit through the lens of this book: An amazing autobiography of Booker T. Washington that covers his life as a tireless advocate for black Americans, their education, and their self-empowerment post slavery.

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Moccasin Trail by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Published: 1952

The American Spirit through the lens of this book: An inspiring story of family ties, Moccasin Trail follows Jim, a man who has lived as a Crow Indian for six years, and his journey into the unknown of the Western frontiers. 

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Published: 1960

The American Spirit through the lens of this book: Based on a true story, Island of the Blue Dolphins documents a tale of survival, courage, and strength as Karana lives alone on the island and must contend with nature.

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

Published: 1972

The American Spirit Through the Lens of this Book: A fantastic story of survival and adventure, Julie of the Wolves follows an Alaskan native, Miyax, who joins a pack of wolves. This story explores an often ignored corner of America.

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck

Published: September 1, 1998

The American Spirit Through the Lens of this Book: Capturing the adventures of small-town Illinois childhoods, A Long Way from Chicago is a fun romp down unexpected avenues for a set of siblings and their grandmother.

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff

Published: 1997

The American Spirit Through the Lens of this Book: Lily’s Crossing is the story of a young girl during WWII and the secrets she keeps and tells. Friendship and living through harrowing times are themes in this American perspective on one of the biggest 20th Century events.

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers, Volume 1 by Lee Francis

Published: 2016

The American Spirit Through the Lens of this Book: The Code Talkers were a group of incredibly brave men who joined the war effort of WWI and others as leaders of code networks that played a huge role in outsmarting the enemies and winning the war.

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall

Published: 2015

The American Spirit Through the Lens of this Book: Learning about American Indian heritage, traditions, and history through the lens of a descendant, In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse documents Crazy Horse’s amazing bravery and life through a series of stories. 

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

Published: 1980

The American Spirit Through the Lens of this Book: An oddly magical story, The Indian in the Cupboard merges two time periods together for an endearing tale of friendship.

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

The Yearling by Patricia Reilly Giff

Published: March 1938

The American Spirit Through the Lens of this Book: A classic of American literature, The Yearling is a timeless tale of friendship and survival. 

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Davy Crockett by Constance Rourke & Michael A. Lofaro

Published: 1934

The American Spirit Through the Lens of this Book: The story of an American hero who was a central figure in a crucial era of America’s growth.

Available on: N/A

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

Published: February 1983

The American Spirit Through the Lens of this Book: A story of survival and the settling of America. Following a thirteen-year-old as he is left without a gun and alone in the wilderness, The Sign of the Beaver explores both the cooperation and tensions between settlers and the native Beaver tribe. 

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Amos Fortune, Free Man by Nora Spicer Unwin

Published: 1950

The American Spirit Through the Lens of this Book: Following Amos Fortune, this story documents the life of a slave at a pivotal point: when freedom is close at hand. 

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George 

Published: 1959

The American Spirit Through the Lens of this Book: Adventure and survival against all odds mix with the American landscape and nature as a young, unhappy boy runs away from home.

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman by Dorothy Sterling

Published: 1954

The American Spirit Through the Lens of this Book: Chronicling the harrowing journeys of Harriet Tubman and her brave actions to save African-American slaves, this book is a great introduction to one of the most revered American heroes. Bravery and the pursuit of what is right in the face of extreme danger is at the heart of Tubman’s story.

Available on: Amazon | Bookshop.org

 

Happy Reading!