Keeping Reading for 20 of the Best Children’s Books About Rhode Island!
Rhode Island is our smallest state at only 1212 square miles! Half the size of the next biggest state Delaware which is 2491 square miles. You could fit 425 Rhode Islands into Alaska!
However, studying and learning about Rhode Island is more than memorizing all the size comparisons. 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 entirely filled nonfiction books filled with facts and figures about Rhode Island they DO make the state come alive to the reader. Some books about Rhode Island and its history, while others are set in Rhode Island, or about famous people from Rhode Island.
ICYMI, click HERE for all the other state book lists!
Rhode Island History and Facts
- Rhode Island is nicknamed the Ocean State because of its 400 miles of coastline and 35 islands.
- Motto – Hope
- Rhode Island entered the Union on May 29, 1790. It was the 13th state
- Rhode Island is named from the Greek Island of Rhodes.
- Providence is the capital of Rhode Island.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, we earn a commission at NO extra cost to you. For more information, please read my full disclosure policy.
Descriptions come from Amazon; some are edited for length
Living Books about Rhode Island
Picture Book about Rhode Island
“It may be our smallest state but its presence is unmistakable — rich in history, breathtaking beauty, and famous for its neighborhoods filled with character. With every turned page readers will be treated to Rhode Island’s incredible scenery and have their many questions answered about our thirteenth state. Rhode Island has how many miles of coastline? The breathtaking beauty of Block Island is one of the state’s how many islands? Readers will also learn how Rhode Island native Samuel Slater started the American Industrial Revolution, and what the quahog is.”
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 Rhode Island letter A is for apple and letter B is Block Island, 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!
Children’s Books about Rhode Island History
“The year is 1635, and Mary Williams and her family live in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Her father, Roger, is on trial for preaching new ideas about freedom. When found guilty, he flees into the cold, telling Mary that she must trust in God’s providence to see him to safety. Roger’s only hope of survival lies with the Narragansett Indians. Will Mary ever see her father again?”
Rhode Island was an integral part of the Industrial Revolution. A state poor in agriculture had to find a way to make money so they built factories. Mill “takes readers of all ages on a journey through a fictional mill town called Wicksbridge. With words and pictures, David Macaulay reveals fascinating details about the planning, construction, and operation of the mills and gives us a powerful sense of the day-to-day lives of Americans in this era.”
“Katie’s Trunk gives an unusual and arresting glimpse of the beginnings of the American Revolution. Katie could feel it in the air—something was wrong. Neighbors didn’t speak to each other anymore, and someone even hissed “Tory!” at her. All around Katie, men were arming themselves for war. Then one day it happened—the rebels came! Katie’s father told the family to hide in the woods. At first Katie obeyed, but as she crouched in the underbrush she got mad and ran back to defend her home. It wasn’t right for people to treat one another this way. But what could one little girl do about it?”
“Blizzard is based on John Rocco’s childhood experience during the now infamous Blizzard of 1978, which brought fifty-three inches of snow to his town in Rhode Island. Told with a brief text and dynamic illustrations, the book opens with a boy’s excitement upon seeing the first snowflake fall outside his classroom window. It ends with the neighborhood’s immense relief upon seeing the first snowplow break through on their street. In between the boy watches his familiar landscape transform into something alien, and readers watch him transform into a hero who puts the needs of others first. This book about the wonder of a winter storm is as delicious as a mug of hot cocoa by the fire on a snowy day.”
“Describes a typical Narragansett Nickommoh, or harvest celebration, as it has been performed by Native Americans since before the arrival of the first Pilgrims in New England.”
“On a coastal farm in Newport, RI, in 1710, William’s days are filled with a great deal of idyllic play and very little work. However, one fateful day, his parents leave him in the care of the family cook and his ‘peaceable kingdom’ is disturbed by the arrival of a ship manned by pirates. Deserted by the terrified cook, William witnesses the murder of the ship’s captain and the theft of his parents’ livestock. Finally, he is discovered by a member of the crew who did something remarkable. Instead of harming the boy, the murderous mutineer removes a ring from his finger and places it in the boy’s hand. William’s parents return to find him safe but frightened and amazed by the afternoon’s events.”
Chapter Books Set in Rhode Island
“Fear permeates the Rhode Island coastal town where Robert, his mother, and sister are living out the war with his paternal grandparents: Fear of Nazi submarines offshore. Fear of Abel Hoffman, a German artist living reclusively outside of town. And for Robert, a more personal fear, of his hot-tempered, controlling grandfather. As Robert watches the townspeople’s hostility toward Hoffman build, he worries about his sensitive cousin Elliot’s friendship with the artist. And he wonders more and more about the family secret everyone seems to be keeping from him—a secret involving Robert’s father, a bomber pilot in Europe. Will Elliot’s ability to detach himself from the turmoil around him be enough to sustain him when prejudice and suspicions erupt into violence? And can Robert find his own way to deal with the shocking truth about his family’s past?”
“Ever since she can remember, Bird has loved flying in small propeller airplanes with her mechanic dad. When the local airstrip is turned into a military flight school, Bird is in heaven, and she manages to turn one young airman’s interest in her older sister into some personal flight lessons. Then a young Japanese American student named Kenji Fujita joins Bird’s class, and the entire school seems to be convinced that he’s a spy, a secret agent, or at the very least, that he and his uncle want the Japs to win. But through a class project, Bird and Kenji befriend each other and accidentally discover real spy activity in the area. So begins an adventure that will shake the town and may even change the future of the United States.”
“When 12-year-old Kenny Huldorf moves to Providence, Rhode Island, he soon discovers that his attic bedroom is haunted by the ghost of a teenage slave named Caleb. Before long, Caleb summons Kenny back in time, where Kenny finds himself entangled in Caleb’s murder and deeply troubled by the century-old injustice. Ultimately, it is up to Kenny to solve Caleb’s murder or remain forever trapped in history. Part ghost story, part social commentary, this thought-provoking, hair-raising page turner from master tale spinner, Avi, is a perfect chilling summer read!”
“Charlotte Parkhurst is raised in an orphanage for boys, which suits her just fine. She doesn’t like playing with dolls, she can hold her own in a fight, and she loves to work in the stables. Charlotte has a way with horses and wants to spend her life training and riding them on a ranch of her own. The problem is, as a girl in the mid-1800s, Charlotte is expected to live a much different life, one without freedom. But Charlotte is smart and determined, and she figures out a way to live her dreams with a plan so clever and so secret almost no one figures it out.”
“Maddy has always loved scary stories, especially the spooky legends of her Native American ancestors. But that was before she heard about the Whisperer in the Dark, the most frightening legend of all. Now there’s an icy voice at the other end of the phone and a terrifying message left on Maddy’s door. Suddenly this ancient tale is becoming just a bit too real. Once, twice, three times he’s called out to her. If he calls to her a fourth time, she’s done for. Where will she be when he calls her name again?”
“Hannah Jordan lives in a museum, well, sort of. She is the daughter of the caretaker for mansion-turned-museum The Elms in Newport, Rhode Island. Hannah’s captivated by stories of The Elms’s original occupants, especially Maggie Dunlap, the tween heiress subject of a painting that went missing during a legendary art heist in 1905. But when a mysterious mirror allows Hannah and Maggie to switch places in time, suddenly Hannah is racing to stop the heist from happening, while Maggie gets an introduction to iPhones, soccer, and not to mention the best invention of all: sweatpants! As the hours tick away toward the art heist, something’s not adding up. Can the girls work together against time, and across it, to set things right? Or will their temporary swap become a permanent trade?”
Young Adult Literature Set in Rhode Island
“Thirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle is excited to return home from her school in England to her family in Rhode Island in the summer of 1832. But when the two families she was supposed to travel with mysteriously cancel their trips, Charlotte finds herself the lone passenger on a long sea voyage with a cruel captain and a mutinous crew. Worse yet, soon after stepping aboard the ship, she becomes enmeshed in a conflict between them! What begins as an eagerly anticipated ocean crossing turns into a harrowing journey, where Charlotte gains a villainous enemy… and is put on trial for murder!”
“For the Hmong people living in overcrowded refugee camps in Thailand, America is a dream: the land of peace and plenty. In 1995, ten years after their arrival at the camp, thirteen-year-old Mai Yang and her grandmother are about to experience that dream. In America, they will be reunited with their only remaining relatives, Mai’s uncle and his family. They will discover the privileges of their new life: medical care, abundant food, and an apartment all their own. But Mai will also feel the pressures of life as a teenager. Her cousins, now known as Heather and Lisa, try to help Mai look less like a refugee, but following them means disobeying Grandma and Uncle. From showers and smoke alarms to shopping, dating, and her family’s new religion, Mai finds life in America complicated and confusing. Ultimately, she will have to reconcile the old ways with the new, and decide for herself the kind of woman she wants to be. This archetypal immigrant story introduces readers to the fascinating Hmong culture and offers a unique outsider’s perspective on our own.”
“It is spring 1929, and Prohibition is in full swing. So when Ruben and Jeddy find a dead body washed up on the shore of their small coastal Rhode Island town, they are sure it has something to do with smuggling liquor. Soon the boys, along with Jeddy’s strongwilled sister, Marina, are drawn in, suspected by rival bootlegging gangs of taking something crucial off the dead man. Then Ruben meets the daring captain of the Black Duck, the most elusive smuggling craft of them all, and it isn’t long before he’s caught in a war between two of the most dangerous prohibition gangs.”
Children’s Books about Famous People from Rhode Island
Rhode Island native Chris Van Alsburg wrote the classic children’s book Jumanji.
“Left on their own for an afternoon, two bored and restless children find more excitement than they bargained for in a mysterious and mystical jungle-adventure board game. “
“As a young musician, Miles Davis heard music everywhere. This biography explores the childhood and early career of a jazz legend as he finds his voice and shapes a new musical sound. Follow his progression from East St. Louis to rural Arkansas, from Julliard and NYC jazz clubs to the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival. Rhythmic free verse imbues his story with musicality and gets readers in the groove. Music teachers and jazz fans will appreciate the beats and details throughout, and Miles’ drive to constantly listen, learn, and create will inspire kids to develop their own voice. With evocative illustrations, this glimpse into Miles Davis’ life is sure to captivate music lovers young and old.”
“Ida Lewis loved everything about the sea, so when her father became the official keeper of Lime Rock Lighthouse in Newport, Rhode Island, she couldn’t imagine anything better.Under her father’s watchful eye, she learned to polish the lighthouse lens so the light would shine bright. She learned to watch the sea for any sign of trouble. And, most importantly, she learned to row. Based on the true story of Ida Lewis, who was dubbed ‘the Bravest Woman in America’ and who was recognized with the Congressional Life Saving Medal and the American Cross of Honor, this inspiring and unforgettable tale of courage and real-life heroism is a tribute to brave women everywhere.”
“It’s the emblem of the land that we love! Get ready to salute the flag as Warren Kimble pays tribute to one of his favorite subjects, America! George M. Cohan’s classic patriotic anthem, beloved by young and old alike, provides the perfect backdrop for Kimble’s playful portraits and stunning panoramas. From sea to shining sea, the stars and stripes appear somewhere on every spread for young readers to find.”
Books Set in Rhode Island (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 Rhode Island
“Meet Dolores Price. She’s 13, wise-mouthed but wounded, having bid her childhood goodbye. Beached like a whale in front of her bedroom TV, she spends the next few years nourishing herself with the Mallomars, potato chips, and Pepsi her anxious mother supplies. When she finally rolls into young womanhood at 257 pounds, Dolores is no stronger and life is no kinder. But this time she’s determined to rise to the occasion and give herself one more chance before really going belly-up.
In this extraordinary coming-of-age odyssey, Wally Lamb invites us to hitch a wild ride on a journey of love, pain, renewal with the most heartbreakingly comical heroine to come along in years.”
Non-fiction Book Set In Rhode Island
“Leah Carroll’s mother, a gifted amateur photographer, was murdered by two drug dealers with Mafia connections when Leah was four years old. Her father, a charming alcoholic who hurtled between depression and mania, was dead by the time she was eighteen. Leah was left to put together her own future and, now in her memoir, she explores the mystery of her parents’ lives, through interviews, photos, and police records. DOWN CITY is a raw, wrenching memoir of a broken family and an indelible portrait of Rhode Island- a tiny state where the ghosts of mafia kingpins live alongside the feisty, stubborn people working hard just to get by. “
And there you have it! 15 living books about Rhode Island. It is my hope that this book list provides you with JUST ONE book to share with your kids.
From the grand ol’ flag to chickens, and from Providence to Newport, I hope you find some fun things to learn about Rhode Island!
Don’t forget to check out the other state book lists!
- New Jersey
- South Carolina
- New Hampshire
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- New Mexico