20 Books About, Set in, and Featuring Maryland Natives
One of my favorite stories about the state of Maryland is how it came upon it’s nickname: the Old Line State. The nickname was bestowed by General George Washington because the Maryland Line served courageously in many battles. Particularly the Battle of Long Island when 400 soldiers in the First Maryland Regiment fought a British force of 2,000 which allowed the Continental Army to retreat, a pivotal moment in the Revolutionary War.
Because of Maryland’s varied waterways, the Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and many navigable rivers, and its mountainous landscapes, it is has been called “America in miniature.” This small state has a lot to offer in history and geography.
However, studying and learning about Maryland is more than memorizing its state capital and population density. My approach to homeschooling involves what as Charlotte Mason coined, living books. Living books are books that make the subject you are studying come alive and are written by people who love the subject.
While this book list might not contain nonfiction books filled with facts and figures about Maryland, they DO make the state of Maryland come alive to the reader. Some books are about a family living in Maryland, while others are about famous events in the state’s history, and some are about famous or historical people from Maryland.
ICYMI! Here are the lists for the previous states.
- Delaware Unit Study Books
- Pennsylvania Unit Study Books
- New Jersey Unit Study Books
- Georgia Unit Study Books
- Connecticut Unit Study Books
- Massachusetts Unit Study Books
Maryland History and Facts
- Maryland is nicknamed the Old Line State.
- Motto – Strong deeds, gentle words.
- Maryland became a state on April 28, 1788. It was the seventh state.
- The state of Maryland was named to honor Queen Henrietta Marie, the wife of England’s King Charles I.
- Annapolis is the capital city of Maryland.
Living Books about Maryland
Children’s Books Set in Maryland
Maryland Picture Books
One of Maryland’s more famous landmarks is Chesapeake Bay. Learn about all creatures and the environment of Chesapeake Bay in this adorable picture book.
“Preschoolers and early readers will enjoy the rhyming story and colorful pictures in this introduction to Chadwick the Chesapeake Bay blue crab and his many friends: Bernie the Sea Gull, Toulouse the Canada Goose, Matilda Egret, Hector Spector the Jellyfish, Orville Oyster, and others.”
Every Sunday afternoon Sarah and Susan visit Aunt Flossie and take a walk down memory lane. Aunt Flossie loves hats and each one of her hats represents a story. A story about family history, a story about Baltimore, or a special memory. The girls love hearing all the stories, and every Sunday they finish their day eating crab cakes, which Maryland is famous for!
History is boring. Or at least that’s what Daniel thinks! His teacher is not pleased when he expresses that opinion in a school-assigned paper. When Daniel meets a magical raven named Calvert, he flies with Calvert back to 1814 and witnesses the Battle of Baltimore. Daniel finds his home city under siege by a British army on the verge of defeating the United States of America in the War of 1812.
Chapter Books set in Maryland
“Growing up on a tiny Chesapeake Bay island in the early 1940s, angry Louise reveals how twin sister Caroline robbed her of everything. Renowned author Katherine Paterson chooses a little-known area off the Maryland shore as her setting for a fresh telling of the ancient story of an elder twin’s lost birthright.”
“On the island of Chincoteague off the coasts of Virginia and Maryland lives a centuries-old band of wild ponies. Among them is the most mysterious of all, Phantom, a rarely seen mare that eludes all efforts to capture her—that is, until a young boy and girl lay eyes on her and determine that they can’t live without her.
The frenzied roundup that follows on the next “Pony Penning Day” does indeed bring Phantom into their lives, in a way they never would have suspected. Phantom would forever be a creature of the wild. But her gentle, loyal colt Misty is another story altogether…”
Keeping her family together is what thirteen-year-old Dicey does best. All four Tillerman children have recently found a new home on their grandmothers run-down farm on the Chesapeake Bay. But oldest sister Dicey has to discover the hard lessons of letting go, everyone has something to teach, and life is a lesson that doesn’t get easier.
Young Adult Literature Set in Maryland
“When Jesse Sherman promises to take a dying slave girl’s small son safely to Baltimore, he embarks on a perilous journey that takes him to the darkest depths of humanity where only love, courage, and compassion will see him through.”
Children’s Books about Maryland
Picture Books about Maryland History
This series of books called Discover America State By State are some of my favorites for introducing a state to kids. Each letter states a fact or a thing about that state. For example, for Maryland letter A is Annapolis and letter B is blue crab, B is for Blue Crab and so on. Each letter comes with a four line rhyme about that respective letter’s fact or subject. What I love most is on the side of the page it gives more in-depth description about each subject. It’s a great jumping off point for what sparks an interest in your child!
The story of how the national anthem of the United States during the War of 1812 came to be. Francis Scott Key sought the release of an American prisoner of war on a British ship in September 1814. He was held captive against his will on a British vessel as Fort McHenry (near Baltimore, Maryland) was bombarded. A large American flag flew all night in defiance of British guns and inspired Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner. It also includes maps, a bibliography, and oil paint illustrations about an important event in American history.
Want to know how/why that famous flag was flying over Fort McHenry that day? The Flag Maker tells the story of the flag. Seen through the eyes of young Caroline Pickersgill, the daughter of an important flag maker and the granddaughter of a flag maker for General George Washington’s Continental Army. It is also a story about how a symbol motivates action and emotion, brings people together, and inspires courage and hope.
“Masterful artwork from acclaimed illustrator Troy Howell brings this true story to life. In 1904 the city of Baltimore was almost destroyed by fire. Hundreds of firemen, policemen, soldiers, and citizens battled the blaze for three days. Goliath is a fire horse assigned to Engine Company 15. He is massive in size and mighty in heart. To the men of Engine Company 15, Goliath is the ultimate fire horse. He is the lead horse for the team assigned to pulling the mammoth Hale Water Tower No. 1. When the fire alarm sounds, calling them to action, Goliath leads his team into the blaze. His lifesaving actions will lead him into the pages of history.”
Illustrated Chapter Book about Maryland
“In September 1862, two great armies faced off across Antietam Creek, near Sharpsburg, Maryland. They know the fate of the United States and the future of millions of slaves were at stake. Gritty and utterly engaging, this is a powerful portrayal of a day on which 22,717 people were killed or wounded—the single bloodiest day in American history. Renowned nonfiction writer Jim Murphy provides an in-depth look at the battle that prompted Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Murphy uses photographs, maps, and first-person accounts to sweep young readers into the chaos and confusion of battle. ”
Children’s Books about Famous People From Maryland
Picture Books about Historic Maryland People
Who was Harriet Tubman before she was Harriet?
“We know her today as Harriet Tubman, but in her lifetime she was called by many names. As General Tubman she was a Union spy. As Moses she led hundreds to freedom on the Underground Railroad. As Minty she was a slave whose spirit could not be broken. As Araminta she was a young girl whose father showed her the stars and the first steps on the path to freedom.
An evocative poem and stunning watercolors come together to honor a woman of humble origins whose courage and compassion make her a larger than life hero.”
Matthew Henson was born in a Maryland cabin just after the Civil War. Slavery had been abolished, but few opportunities were available for black people. Like many children, young Henson exhibited a yearning for adventure. And at age 13 he embarked on a five-year voyage sailing the seven seas. Henson’s greatest accomplishment began when Robert Peary invited him to join an expedition to the North Pole. After a perilous journey on April 1, Peary, Henson, and four Inuit men began the final 133-mile push to the Pole. Author Deborah Hopkinson pays tribute to a great but under-recognized figure from America’s history.
Maryland native Michael Phelps made history in 2016 by becoming the most decorated Olympian of all time. 22 Olympic medals, 18 of them gold. This lovely children’s book focuses on his training leading up to the 2008 Olympics in Bejing where Phelps was DETERMINED to win 8 gold medals. Showcasing the value of hard work, goal setting, and not giving up, this colorful book is as educational as it is cute.
Chapter Books about Famous People from Maryland
“The childhood of civil rights hero and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall comes to life in this engaging biography. Whenever Thurgood Marshall got into trouble at school, the principal would make him sit in the basement and read the US Constitution. By the time he was twelve, he had most of it memorized, and his interest in law had begun to take seed. Check out this biography emphasizing the childhood of the man who became the first African American to sit on the United States Supreme Court.”
“Best suited for older readers, the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” is the memoir of former slave turned abolitionist, Frederick Douglass. Considered as one of the most famous slave narratives, the story recounts Douglass’s life from early childhood growing up in Maryland as a slave to his eventual escape to the North where he would document the civil injustices of slavery in 19th century America and to craft his impassioned oratories against it.”
A Chapter Book Written by a Famous Native of Maryland
Baseball Hall of Famer, Cal Ripkin Jr, tells the story of Connor Sullivan. “He is an All-Star shortstop on his Babe Ruth team, the Orioles. But he’s got one big problem: his temper. When he strikes out or makes an error, he’s a walking Mt. Vesuvius, slamming batting helmets and throwing gloves. His teammates are starting to avoid him, and his coach is ready to kick him off the team. When the sports editor of the school paper threatens to do a big story on his tantrums – complete with embarrassing photos – Connor realizes he has to clean up his act. But can he do it in time to regain his teammates’ trust and help the Orioles win the championship against the best team in the league?”
Books Set in Maryland (for Mom!)
I love to read, and I love a good theme or challenge for a reading list. So my final two books on this book list are one adult fiction and one adult non-fiction.
Fiction Book Set in Maryland
“Memories bind family’s together. The Tulls of Baltimore are no exception. Abandoned by her salesman husband, Pearl is left to bring up her three children alone – Cody, a flawed devil, Ezra, a flawed saint, and Jenny, errant and passionate. Now as Pearl lies dying, stiffly encased in her pride and solitude, the past is unlocked and with it, secrets.”
Non-fiction Book Set In Maryland
From the creator of HBO’s The Wire, read David Simon’s account of a year inside the Baltimore homicide unit, which would became the basis for the hit television show. It focuses on three detectives working in city torn by racial tensions and plagued by drugs and crime.
And there you have it! 20 living books about Maryland. It is my hope that this book list provides you with JUST ONE book to share with your kids. For our homeschool unit we read Jacob Have I Loved, and while it wasn’t the absolute favorite we have read, we still quote the book. Which I love because my goal as a homeschool mom is to create a homeschool culture around books and reading aloud.
From flags to crabs, and from Chesapeake Bay to Fort McHenry, I hope you find some fun things to learn about Maryland!
What kind of books does your child love best? What kind of books would you like to see in the future? Drop a comment below to let me know!