BIG List of California History Books

Please note: this post may contain affiliate links. For more information please see my affiliate statement page

As I mentioned in my previous posts (here, and here), we are going to be incorporating California History books for all of the kids this year. It was challenging for me to conceive of a way of doing this when I have learners that range for preschool to 7th grade, but then I realized that I could differentiate instruction by finding books appropriate to their reading/comprehension levels! Once I realized that, I had a lot of fun researching and selecting titles for them!

I found this book by accident, so it isn’t on the original list! Your bonus for reading this updated blog post! I will absolutely go back and add it in when I have the time because it’s fantastic!!!

The following is the list I created, with the help of six main resources:

  1. Fourth Grade Teacher
  2. Social Justice Books 
  3. California out of the Box
  4. Beautiful Feet’s Around California with Children’s Books Pack: A History of the Golden State
  5. Random internet searches (including pinterest & google)
  6. My friends!!! I posted about my challenge, and many of my homeschool mom friends showed up by either recommending specific titles, or sending me links to different book lists, like this one for example. There were too many to list, but I want to recognize the contributions my mama friends made <3

I decided that instead of focusing solely on a discrete period of time in California History, we would try to cover alllllll of California’s history. Totally not overly ambitious right? Did I mention I’m an Enneagram 7! Haha!

I’ve kept my personal notes in case they might help you decide. Some of the books are specifically California History, but they contain similar or otherwise relevant themes.

Feel free to add any of your favorites in the comments!

My List:

Books from California out of the Box List:

  • California Out of the Box: An Interdisciplinary History Curriculum (see link above)

  • Valley of the Moon: The Diary of Maria Rosalia de Milagros (out of print, check thriftbooks or local library)
  • Esperanza Rising (this book is on so many lists)
  • By the Great Horn Spoon (this book is on basically every California literature based list)
  • The Earth Dragon Awakes
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • National Audubon Society Field Guide to California (out of print)
  • Stories from Where We Live, California Coast (out of print)

Books from Fourth Grade Teacher:

Beautiful Feet Books:

  • AROUND CALIFORNIA WITH CHILDREN’S BOOKS TEACHER GUIDE (check this link for the full book list. Note, we did not purchase all of the books from the list. All of the following books are available from Beautiful Feet Books. )
  • Adopted by Indians a True Story (need to pre-read this one for perspective)
  • Song of the Swallows
  • Jessie Benton Fremont California Pioneer
  • Riders of the Pony Express (Moody)
  • John Muir- America’s First Environmentalist
  • Coolies
  • Locomotive
  • With Open Hands: A Story About Biddy Mason (out of print)
  • Blue Willow
  • The Forest in the Trees

Downloadable version of this list: California History — Historical Fiction Booklist

I am keeping an eye out for additional books from Chicano, Native American, and other immigrant groups’ perspectives. Our family immigrated through Angel Island, so books that tell of those experiences are of particular interest. I would also like to find some additional books about the Filipino experience, especially with regard to activism. This book looks fantastic, Little Manila Is in the Heart: The Making of the Filipina/o American Community in Stockton, California– I would love to find a similar book written for children. 

Some of the books from this list! (Those that have arrived so far.)

Anyhow, that’s where we’re at with our California History literature based approach. I am looking to some resources Jennifer Mackintosh has been revisiting to help home educators plan reading for the year from their own lists. She has one tool in particular that I am hoping to use! It’s called the scheduling books and pages tool, and it can be found within this post. There are many companies and organizations that sell or freely offer schedules with corresponding booklists, but many of the currently available lists have a quite limited (read Euro Centric) worldview, and I am trying to take what I have learned and move past that narrow perspective. (There are companies that have amazing alternatives, and I plan to look into those further in the future).

I am in the process of pinning each of these books in addition to other relevant resources for California History. Thanks for stopping by!

5 thoughts on “BIG List of California History Books

Leave a Reply