The best books to travel back in time to see historical events unfolding

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I loved escaping into my character’s world—solving mysteries with Nancy Drew, getting into trouble like Anne from Anne of Green Gables, and diving into adventures with Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. But I never saw anyone like myself in those books. A girl with black hair and coffee-colored skin, who licked the last samosa crumb off her fingers. That's one of the reasons I write and read historical fiction. It allows you to take a ride with a person from that place and time, and the first rule of time travel is that you cannot change the past. But when you finish reading you may discover that the past has changed you. 


I wrote...

Orange for the Sunsets

By Tina Athaide,

Book cover of Orange for the Sunsets

What is my book about?

Asha and her best friend, Yesofu, never cared about the differences between them: Indian. African. Girl. Boy. But when Idi Amin announces that Indians have ninety days to leave the country, suddenly those differences are the only things that people in Entebbe can see. Determined for her life to stay the same, Asha clings to her world tighter than ever before. But Yesofu is torn, pulled between his friends, his family, and a promise of a better future. Now as neighbors leave and soldiers line the streets, the two friends find that nothing seems sure—not even their friendship.

Tensions between Indians and Africans intensify and the deadline to leave is fast approaching. Could the bravest thing of all be to let each other go?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Other Words for Home

Tina Athaide Why did I love this book?

I am excited to recommend this book that begins in Syria where you will meet a young girl, Jude. As the situation in her country becomes dangerous, she has to leave her home and move to Cincinnati, USA with her mother, leaving behind her father and brother.  I know firsthand what it is like to move to a completely different country and leave behind your friends and family. I think that is what drew me to this book. I understood what Jude was feeling. I especially loved that this story is told in verse. It was like Jude was speaking right to me. 

By Jasmine Warga,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Other Words for Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

New York Times bestseller and Newbery Honor Book!

A gorgeously written, hopeful middle grade novel in verse about a young girl who must leave Syria to move to the United States, perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Aisha Saeed.

Jude never thought she'd be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always…


Book cover of The Night Diary

Tina Athaide Why did I love this book?

Go back in time to 1947. India, newly independent from British rule, has been separated into two countries-Pakistan and India. I admit that I didn’t know a lot about the partition other than the divide it caused between Hindus and Muslims and the hundreds of thousands of people that were killed, but there was so much more I learned about the struggles people faced during the partition. I have a signed copy of the book in my classroom library and a few of my students had read the book and told me I should add it to my “reading pile”. They said I would love it and they were right. The main character, Nisha tugged at my heart and I cheered her bravery.

By Veera Hiranandani,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Night Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

It's 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders.

Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn't know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it's too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha…


Book cover of Threads of Peace: How Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Changed the World

Tina Athaide Why did I love this book?

I greatly admire Mohandas Gandhi and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., so I was intrigued when I heard about this book that looked at the common threads between two amazing historical figures who shared a goal of social reform. Being South Asian, I am very familiar with Mohandas Gandhi, and after moving to the United States, I learned a lot about the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and this book revealed what led these two men down the path of peace. Even today, it saddens me that both Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. met their end to life by assassinations. I have only recently added this book to my classroom library, but anticipate it will be a popular choice among my students.

By Uma Krishnaswami,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Threads of Peace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

"Inviting and original." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Mohandas Gandhi and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. both shook and changed the world in their quest for peace among all people, but what threads connected these great activists together in their shared goal of social revolution?

A lawyer and activist, tiny of stature with giant ideas, in British-ruled India at the beginning of the 20th century.

A minister from Georgia with a thunderous voice and hopes for peace at the height of the civil rights movement in America.

Born more than a half-century apart, with seemingly little in common except one shared…


Book cover of When Stars Are Scattered

Tina Athaide Why did I love this book?

Growing up, I loved comic books and I am amazed at how the world of graphic novels has exploded in recent years. At the start of every school year, I always add at least one graphic novel to my classroom library and this year I added When Stars are Scattered and it has become a popular pick among my students. In traveling with Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, I learned what it was like to live in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. This is a true story and based on Omar’s real-life experiences. 

By Omar Mohamed, Victoria Jamieson,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked When Stars Are Scattered as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

A National Book Award Finalist, this remarkable graphic novel is about growing up in a refugee camp, as told by a former Somali refugee to the Newbery Honor-winning creator of Roller Girl.

Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would…


Book cover of Inside Out & Back Again

Tina Athaide Why did I love this book?

Growing up, I heard stories about the Vietnam war. Many refugees immigrated to the USA and Canada. I remember a brother and sister enrolling at my school in Alberta. They were from Saigon and had fled Vietnam. They only stayed at my school for a month, but we shared a lunch table during those four weeks and exchanged smiles and a few words as we tried to bridge the language gap. This story is about Hà and her family. Similar to my book, this story is inspired by the author’s childhood experiences, which is what first drew me to the book. It is a favorite among my students.

By Thanhhà Lai,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Inside Out & Back Again as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Ten-year-old Ha has only ever known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her family and friends close by. But when the Vietnam War reaches the gates of her home, Ha and her family are forced to flee.

The journey onboard a refugee ship bound for America is hard - but nothing can prepare Ha for the strangeness of the country that greets them on the other side. The language is impossible, the food is strange - and not all the locals are friendly. But amongst her struggles, Ha finds joy, friendship…


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Funny Folk Tales for Children

By Allison Galbraith,

Book cover of Funny Folk Tales for Children

Allison Galbraith Author Of Funny Folk Tales for Children

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a storyteller and folktale collector. All my jobs have involved telling stories – as a community librarian, in theatre, in education, and since 2006 as a professional storyteller and writer. I work in schools, festivals, and outdoor education with all sorts of people and their animals. I have honed my skills to find the most enjoyable traditional tales that can be shared widely. I live in Scotland, where I encourage families to read and tell their favourite stories together. Storytelling is a living art form that belongs to everyone. More than anything, I love the natural world, and I bring the magnificence of nature into all my work.

Allison's book list on world folktales for reading to everyone over six

What is my book about?

These are the funniest folktales in the world. You will be amazed at the intelligent animals and LOL at the ridiculous scrapes the humans get themselves into in these short stories. Discover why dogs are our best friends, learn how to change a cow into a zombie, and meet a shape-shifting, cartwheeling raccoon dog.

Suitable for reading age 7+. This book is perfect for storytime & reading together at bedtime and holidays. These stories will cheer even the grumpiest grandparent up :).

Funny Folk Tales for Children

By Allison Galbraith,

What is this book about?

'It's the best present you can give. It never breaks and doesn't need batteries. What is it?'

The answer is inside THIS BOOK!

Eleven of the funniest traditional tales from around the world. Laugh your socks off as you discover why dogs are our best friends, learn how to flummox fairies, and meet a shape-shifting, cartwheeling badger.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in refugees, Mahatma Gandhi, and Somalia?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about refugees, Mahatma Gandhi, and Somalia.

Refugees Explore 144 books about refugees
Mahatma Gandhi Explore 14 books about Mahatma Gandhi
Somalia Explore 13 books about Somalia