In the 1950’s through the 1970’s, several different – but similar – series of history books for children were published in the States. I’ve always collected both whenever I’ve come across them in flea markets and antique shops, and am slowly (as a part of my project to read ALL the books I own!) reading through them.
The Landmark books are my favorites, and were published by Random House. A very interesting article about their history can be found here. These books are really easy to read, yet cover the important points of various historical events or the lives of important people.
Grosset & Dunlap published the Signature biographies, which feature a copy of the famous person’s signature on the front cover, and are also readily identified by the nifty little pictorial timeline of “Great Events in the Life of” that are inside the front cover of each book. The titles all begin “The Story of…” These books were mostly published in the 1950’s and early 60’s, and the reading level is slightly simpler than that of the Landmark books.
- The Story of Amelia Earhart by Adele de Leeuw
The “We Were There” series was also published by G&D. These books are technically historical fiction. Each one takes a famous event and tells the story of that event from the perspective of fictional children. It personalizes that piece of history and makes it more engaging for younger readers. Although sometimes simplistic in scope, they are still a decent introduction to different big moments in history.
- We Were There at Pearl Harbor by Felix Sutton