5 Best Children's Books about Maryland History

Queen Henrietta Maria was the daughter of France’s Henry IV and the wife of King Charles I of Great Britain and Ireland. When King Charles signed the 1632 charter establishing the Maryland colony, he named it to honor his queen. The state’s nickname, Old Line State, is said to have come from none other than General George Washington, who referred to Maryland’s courageous Revolutionary War soldiers as the Old Line.

Long before it became known as Maryland, people made their homes in the area. As many as 40 Native American tribes lived there as long as 3,000 years ago. In the early 1600s, Europeans came to the region with English settlers colonizing Maryland in 1634, living alongside the native peoples. On April 28, 1788, Maryland became the seventh state of the Union, ceding sixty square miles for the District of Columbia three years later. The state was deeply involved in the War of 1812, the Underground Railroad, and the Civil War, among other historic events.

If your fourth or fifth grade student is learning about Maryland’s rich past in school, you can help make the lessons more interesting by offering an entertaining yet informative book that illustrates the relevant period. With options ranging from historic fiction to nonfiction biographies, to creative titles based on real people and events, you have many choices from which to choose. Following are five attention-grabbing kids’ books about Maryland history that are ideal for children in upper-elementary school grades:

Brothers at War

By Margaret Whitman Blair

Rob and Jamie are brothers, but a last name and a crush on the same girl are about the only things that they have in common. When passionate, introverted Rob decides to participate in a Civil War reenactment, he never expects to see outgoing, laid back Jamie there as well, but when he realizes that Sarah Singleton –the object of both brothers’ affections—is there, he understands why.

When the trio pose for a commemorative photo in dressed in period outfits, something magical happens; they are transported back in time to the Battle of Antietam. While the brothers have always fought and competed with each other, this is much different as they are on opposing sides in an actual war. Can they mend their relationship and find their way home?

Captain John Smith’s Big and Beautiful Bay

By Rebecca C. Jones

Captain John Smith was an English explorer best known for exploring the New World and his role in the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia; but he also led two voyages on the Chesapeake Bay.

This book, based on the adventurer’s actual diaries, describes the worries, challenges, and excitement Smith and his men encountered while exploring the body of water. Spending 14 weeks on the bay, they faced hurricane-force winds, encountered native people both friendly and hostile, looked for gold, and contended with severe illness. They also learned that the bay and surrounding land were much larger and abundant than anyone suspected.

Molly Bannaky

By Chris K. Soentpiet

Seventeen-year-old Molly Walsh was a dairymaid in England. When the cow she was milking kicked over a bucketful of milk, she was charged with stealing it and sentenced to work for seven years as an indentured servant in British Colonial America.

Molly was a real young woman who worked alongside other servants and African slaves until she earned her freedom. Molly went on to purchase one such slave. His name was Bannaky, and he would become her husband.

Oyster Moon

By Margaret Meacham

Molly’s twin brother has been gone for two weeks when the 14-year-old begins receiving mysterious messages. Somehow, she knows that the communications are from Toby, who left to work on an oyster dredge boat. A letter written in a foreign language that follows her messages from Toby makes it clear that the twins may both be in danger.

This gripping adventure mystery will keep readers turning pages while they learn about the Oyster Wars in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay during the late nineteenth century.

Goliath: Hero of the Great Baltimore Fire

By Claudia Friddell

While most people know about the Great Chicago Fire, not as many are familiar with the story of the Great Baltimore Fire. In 1904, someone discarded a cigarette in the basement of a large building, starting a blaze that burned for 31 hours, and destroyed an 80-block area of the city. (Thankfully, no lives were lost.)

Readers will learn about the brave men and animals who fought the fire in this story of Goliath, the ultimate fire horse. His enormous size and mighty spirit makes the horse a hero that children will love.

Kids will enjoy discovering Maryland’s amazing past with these engaging and enlightening stories.

Got a favorite kids’ book about Maryland history? Share with us!

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Tags : chapter books   historical novels   

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