I might not remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, but I remember that my husband and I saw a stray white pit bull mix while trucking through North Carolina.
North Carolina is a stunning state! Home to the Smoky Mountains, charming cities, the Biltmore, and 300 miles of coastline. It has a lot to offer to tourists and history buffs alike!
However, learning about North Carolina is more than memorizing cities and the history of agriculture in the state. My approach to studying the 50 states 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.
This book list contains non-fiction books about North Carolina, picture books and chapter books set in North Carolina, as well as some awesome books about the Wright brothers. Let’s get to it!
ICYMI! Here are the lists for the previous states. And make sure to subscribe to my resource library for printable lists of each of the states!
- Living Books about Delaware
- Living Books about Pennsylvania
- Living Books about New Jersey
- Living Books about Georgia
- Living Books about Connecticut
- Living Books about Massachusetts
- Living Books about Maryland
- Living Books about South Carolina
- Living Books about New Hampshire
- Living Books about New York
North Carolina History and Facts
- North Carolina is nicknamed the Tar Heel State referring North Carolina’s long history as a producer of tar, pitch, rosin and turpentine from the state’s pine forests.
- Motto – To be rather than to seem.
- North Carolina entered the Union on November 21, 1789. It was the 12th state.
- North Carolina is named in honor of Charles I of England. James Polk, the 13th President, was born in Pineville, North Carolina on November 2, 1795. Andrew Johnson, the 16th President, was born on December 29, 1808 in Raleigh, North Carolina
- Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina.
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Living Books about North Carolina
“From the Appalachian Mountains to the Outer Banks, readers will be delighted to discover the beautiful state of North Carolina in T is for Tar Heel. Explore the Biltmore mansion, with its 255 rooms, which took nineteenth century millionaire George Washington Vanderbilt six years to have built. Learn about the history and lore of NASCAR racing under “Z is for Zoom!”
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 North Carolina letter A is for Appalachian Mountains and the letter B is for Brown Mountain Lights 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!
“Count your way through the fir-covered mountains of western North Carolina, past rolling foothills, to the giant sand dunes of the eastern coast in Wright Numbers. Young reader’s imagination will take flight as they discover North Carolina through numbers — everything from what makes the strawberry unique to what in the world is a Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle.”
“Fun and learning come together in North Carolina’s Amazing Coast, an inviting collection of one hundred short, self-contained features about the flora, fauna, and natural history of North Caroling. The fascinating place where land meets sea. Each page includes a full-color illustration and breezy, fact-filled commentary on coastal wildlife.”
“The first gold discovery in the United States occurred in 1799 when young Conrad Reed went fishing in Little Meadow Creek in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. The 17-pound nugget he found was used by his family as a doorstop until they figured out what the strange rock was. This chance discovery set off the first gold rush in the nation’s history. For more than a century, men extracted gold from the rolling hills and valleys of the North Carolina piedmont, as well as from the high peaks and rugged mountains of the western part of the state.”
“The Armistice has been declared, but still there is no sign of Ruthie’s father in their little Appalachian town. So, in accordance with the traditions of Pine Grove, it falls to Ruthie and her mother to bring home the perfect Christmas tree to donate to the town. Ruthie had accompanied her father to the rocky cliff where he marked a tree in the spring, so she and her mother set out to find it again, and haul it home. Their trip becomes the basis of a new town legend.”
“Reminiscent of the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, My Great-Aunt Arizona is an inspiring tale rich with history, family, and artistry. Based on a true story, author Gloria Houston’s joyous recounting of her great-aunt Arizona’s quiet yet meaningful life. Arizona was born in a log cabin her papa built in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She grew into a tall girl who liked to sing, square-dance, and—most of all—read and dream of the faraway places she would visit one day. Arizona never did make it to those places. Instead she became a teacher, helping generations of children in the one-room schoolhouse which she herself had attended.”
“Even though eight-year-old Ernestine lives with her family up North, back home is Lumberton, North Carolina, the place where she was born and where her mama grew up. From the moment she steps off the train, Ernestine feels right at home in the lush, green countryside, working on the family farm, and spending time with her aunt, uncle, and cousins. This nostalgic, sweetly humorous visit home–based on Gloria Pinkney’s own childhood memories–is perfect for intergenerational sharing.”
Picture Books about North Carolina History
“Based on a real event that took place in the eighteenth century off the coast of North Carolina, this picture book for older children captures what occurred when the Royal Navy illegally attacked the famous pirate Blackbeard. The story is told through the perspective of Jeremy, a fictional cabin boy.”
“On October 11, 1896, 10-year-old Sam Deal and his horse, Ginger, watch as the brave surfmen of Pea Island struggle to save the lives of nine people stranded on a shipwreck. Sam has dreamt of becoming a surfman just like the all-African-American crew, and this is his chance. Can he and Ginger help the crew rescue the victims, or will they be lost forever?”
“There were signs all throughout town telling eight-year-old Connie where she could and could not go. But when Connie sees four young men take a stand for equal rights at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, she realizes that things may soon change. This event sparks a movement throughout her town and region. And while Connie is too young to march or give a speech, she helps her brother and sister make signs for the cause. Changes are coming to Connie’s town, but Connie just wants to sit at the lunch counter and eat a banana split like everyone else.”
“This picture book is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the momentous Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, when four college students staged a peaceful protest that became a defining moment in the struggle for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement. Andrea Davis Pinkney uses poetic, powerful prose to tell the story of these four young men, who followed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words of peaceful protest and dared to sit at the “whites only” Woolworth’s lunch counter.”
“In Poetry for Kids: Carl Sandburg you’ll find many classics, some of which you may remember from your childhood, including “Young Bullfrogs,” “Shenandoah”, “Jazz Fantasia”, “Fog”, and 31 more of Sandburg’s favorite and most accessible works. Accompanying the words are beautifully illustrated scenes by award-winning illustrator Robert Crawford. This gentle introduction includes commentary, definitions of key words, and an introduction to the poet’s life, plus a final synopsis of the author’s interpretation of the pieces.”
Chapter books Set in North Carolina
“Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone’s business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she’s been making waves ever since. Mo’s found a home with the Colonel, a café owner, and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.”
“Georgina Hayes is desperate. Ever since her father left and they were evicted from their apartment, her family has been living in their car. With her mama juggling two jobs and trying to make enough money to find a place to live, Georgina is stuck looking after her younger brother, Toby. And she has her heart set on improving their situation. When Georgina spots a missing-dog poster with a reward of five hundred dollars, the solution to all her problems suddenly seems within reach. All she has to do is ‘borrow’ the right dog and its owners are sure to offer a reward. What happens next is the last thing she expected.”
“A brave and unusual girl named Serafina lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate amidst the splendor of the Gilded Age. Serafina’s Pa, the estate’s maintenance man, has warned her to keep herself hidden from the fancy folk who live on the floors above, but when children at the estate start disappearing, Serafina and her friend Braeden Vanderbilt must work together to solve a dark and dangerous mystery.”
“Jake Semple is notorious. Rumor has it he burned down his old school and got kicked out of every school in his home state. Only one place will take him now, and that’s a homeschool run by the Applewhites, a chaotic and hilarious family of artists. Jake thinks surviving this one will be a breeze . . . but is he really as tough or as bad as he seems?”
Children’s Books about the Wright Brothers
“This engaging narrative account of Orville and Wilbur Wright, two men with little formal schooling but a knack for solving problems, follows their interest from a young age in the developing field of aeronautics. Chronicling their lives from their early mechanical work on toys and bicycles through the development of several flyers, The Wright Brothers follows the siblings through their achievements.”
“When Tom Tate hears that Wilbur and Orville Wright are building a flying machine, he can’t wait to try it. Tom’s dad thinks it’s dangerous. Some people think the Wrights are crazy. Can Tom help the brothers get their dream off the ground?”
Books Set in North Carolina (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 North Carolina
“For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.”
Non-fiction Book Set In North Carolina
“A New York Times bestseller with an “engaging narrative and array of detail” (The Wall Street Journal), the “intimate and sweeping” (Raleigh News & Observer) untold, true story behind the Biltmore Estate—the largest, grandest private residence in North America, which has seen more than 120 years of history pass by its front door.”
And there you have it! 20 living books about North Carolina. It is my hope that this book list provides you with JUST ONE book to share with your kids.
From the Biltmore to the Outer Banks, and from the Wright Brothers to Greensboro, I hope you find some fun things to learn about North Carolina!
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