Keeping Reading for 20 Books About Virginia for Younger Readers
I might as well call this series: “Children’s books about states so I can talk about tv shows that take place in that state.” The later seasons of The Walking Dead take place in Virginia and there is the wonderful scene where Eugene is wearing a t-shirt that says “Virginia is for lovers.” There. I got the tv reference out of the way.
Speak of which, Virginia is for lovers originated over 50 years ago as an ad campaign for the Virginia tourism board. Advertisers originally came up with “Virginia is for Beach Lovers” or “Virginia is for History Lovers” which was then shortened to Virginia is for Lovers.
Virginia certainly a history lovers dream! The home of 7 Presidents, the home of important Revolutionary and Civil War battles, and the home of colonial Williamsburg.
Learning about the state of Virginia is more than memorizing the 7 Presidents who were born there and learning about George Washington. 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 a little bit of everything: some non-fiction books about Virginia, books that take place in and around historical events, as well as picture and chapter books set in the state of Virginia. Let’s get to it!
ICYMI, click HERE for all the other state book lists!
Virginia History and Facts
- Virginia is nicknamed the Old Dominion State.
- Motto – Thus always to tyrants
- Virginia entered the union on June 25, 1788. It was the tenth state.
- Virginia was named by by founder Sir Walter Raleigh for Queen Elizabeth I, who was know as the virgin Queen.
- Seven U.S. Presidents were born in Virginia: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, John Tyler, and Woodrow Wilson.
- Richmond is the capital of Virginia.
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 Virginia
Children’s Books About Virginia
O is for Old Dominion: A Virginia Alphabet by Pamela Duncan Edwards
“From Arlington National Cemetery to magnificent Monticello, Virginia has always had a prominent place in American history. Jamestown, Williamsburg, and even the Pentagon are just a few of the many places highlighted in O is for Old Dominion. Readers will also be introduced to such history makers as George Washington, Patrick Henry, and Booker T. Washington. “
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 Virginia letter A is for Arlington and the letter B is for Booker T. Washington, 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!
Picture Books about Virginia History
You Wouldn’t Want to Be an American Colonist! by Jacqueline Morle
“Join the English colonists who sailed to North America in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. This interactive series will enthrall young and reluctant readers by making them part of the story, inviting them to become the main character. Experience hard labor, drought, famine, and conflict with the Algonquians who are angry with you because you have fenced off their land. Are you tough enough to survive? This new extended edition includes a timeline, a host of fascinating facts including a real 17th-century recipe, and the true story of Pocahontas.”
Chapter Books about Virginia History
Blood on the River: James Town, 1607 by Elisa Carbone
“When Samuel Collier becomes the page of Captain John Smith and boards the Susan Constant, bound for the New World, he can’t believe his good fortune. He’s heard that gold washes ashore with every tide. But the New World is nothing like he imagined. The lush Virginia shore where they establish the colony of James Town is both beautiful and forbidding, and it’s hard to know who’s a friend or foe. As he learns the language of the Algonquian Indians and observes Captain Smith’s wise diplomacy, Samuel begins to see that he can be whomever he wants to be in this new land.”
Give Me Liberty by L. M. Elliott
“An exciting novel for tweens that captures the dawn of the American Revolution. Life is tough for thirteen-year-old Nathaniel Dunn, an indentured servant in colonial Virginia. Then in a twist of luck, he meets Basil, a kind schoolmaster, who introduces Nathaniel to music, books, and philosophies. The year is 1775, and as colonists voice their rage over England’s taxation, Patrick Henry’s words “give me liberty, or give me death” become the sounding call for action. Nathaniel must face the puzzling choices a dawning nation lays before him.”
A Lion to Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla
“Amanda Freebold doesn’t know what to do. Her father left three years ago for the new colony of Jamestown in America, thousands of miles away. But now that her mother has died, Amanda is left to take care of her younger brother and sister all alone back in England. As the new head of the family, Amanda finally decides to take her brother and sister to America to find Father. The ocean crossing is long and hard, and the children don’t know whom to trust. But with her father’s little brass lion’s head to guard them, Amanda knows that somehow everything will work out.”
Children’s Books Set in Virginia
Picture books Set in Virginia
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant
“In a rainbow-colored station wagon that smelled like a real car, the relatives came. When they arrived, they hugged and hugged from the kitchen to the front room. All summer they tended the garden and ate up all the strawberries and melons. They plucked banjos and strummed guitars.. When they finally had to leave, they were sad, but not for long. They all knew they would be together next summer.”
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
“Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math, really good. They participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America’s first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world. In this beautifully illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as ‘colored computers,’ and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career.”
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko
“For most children these days it would come as a great shock to know that before 1967, they could not marry a person of a race different from their own. That was the year that the Supreme Court issued its decision in Loving v. Virginia.This is the story of one brave family: Mildred Loving, Richard Perry Loving, and their three children. It is the story of how Mildred and Richard fell in love, and got married in Washington, D.C. But when they moved back to their hometown in Virginia, they were arrested (in dramatic fashion) for violating that state’s laws against interracial marriage. The Lovings refused to allow their children to get the message that their parents’ love was wrong and so they fought the unfair law, taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court and won!
Chapter books Set in Virginia
“Meet Felicity Merriman, a spirited nine-year-old girl who lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1774, just before the Revolutionary War. She’s impatient with ‘sitting down kinds of things,’ like stitchery or writing. She’d rather ride horses! That’s why Felicity is so excited to hear about a new horse in town. she falls in love with the copper-colored mare and names her Penny. But Penny is owned by a cruel man who beats his animals. When Penny’s life is in danger, Felicity knows she must help.”
Belle Prater’s Boy by Ruth White
“Everyone in Coal Station, Virginia, has a theory about what happened to Belle Prater, who on a warm Sunday morning on October 1953 left her bed and vanished from the face of the earth. But twelve-year-old Gypsy wants the facts, and when Aunt Belle’s son moves next door, she has her chance. He isn’t as forthcoming as Gypsy hopes and Gypsy is puzzled by his calm acceptance of his mother’s disappearance. When he finally reveals that he’s been keeping a secret about his mother, Gypsy begins to understand that there are different ways of finding the strength to face the truth, no matter how painful it is.”
Summer of the Woods by Steven K. Smith
“When young brothers Derek and Sam move with their family to Virginia, they have no idea what adventures the summer will bring. As they explore their creaky old house and the deep surrounding woods, they uncover a sixty-year-old mystery of a valuable coin collection stolen from the local museum. Join the boys as they spend their summer running from danger and searching the woods, secret caves, rushing waters, and hidden passageways for treasure and the rare 1877 Indian Head cent coin! Summer of the Woods is the first book in The Virginia Mysteries series. If you enjoy mystery and adventure like the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Magic Tree House, or National Treasure, you’ll love author Steven K. Smith’s exciting middle-grade series.”
As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds
“Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia, in the COUNTRY! The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind. Thunderstruck, Genie peppers Grandpop with questions about how he hides it so well (besides wearing way cool Ray-Bans). How does he match his clothes? Know where to walk? Cook with a gas stove? Pour a glass of sweet tea without spilling it? Genie thinks Grandpop must be the bravest guy he’s ever known, but he starts to notice that his grandfather never leaves the house—as in NEVER. And when he finds the secret room that Grandpop is always disappearing into, he begins to wonder if his grandfather is really so brave after all. Genie is left to wonder—is bravery and becoming a man only about proving something, or is it just as important to own up to what you won’t do?”
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
“Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his family and the strength that Leslie has given him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief”
Young Adult Literature Set in Virginia
Shades of Gray by Carolyn Reede
“The Civil War may be over, but for twelve-year-old Will Page, the pain and bitterness haven’t ended. How could they have, when the Yankees were responsible for the deaths of everyone in his entire immediate family? And now Will has to leave his comfortable home in the Shenandoah Valley and live with relatives he has never met on their farm in the war-torn Virginia Piedmont. But the worst of it is that Will’s uncle Jed had refused to fight for the Confederacy. At first, Will regards his uncle as a traitor, but as they work side by side, Will begins to respect the man. And when he sees his uncle stand up for what he believes in, Will realizes that he must rethink his definition of honor and courage.”
Picture Books About Famous Virginians
George Washington by Ingri d’Aulaire
“The simple and inauspicious life of George Washington, a backwoods Virginia boy destined to become the Father of His Country. Meticulously researched, the d’Aulaires hiked and camped all over Virginia as they imbibed the spirit of this great man. The story follows his growth from young boy to surveyor, to soldier in the French and Indian War where he became a war hero. Then George courted Martha Custis and after their marriage they built a plantation at Mount Vernon. Then we see Washington lead his troops through the dark and hungry days of the Revolution. By exhibiting courage and integrity he inspired the same in his men. Beautiful stone lithograph illustrations bring the story to life for readers young and old.”
George Washington and the General’s Dog by Frank Murphy
“Boom! Bang! Guns fire! Cannons roar! This Step 3 History Reader is about George Washington fighting in the American Revolution. He sees a dog lost on the battlefield. Whose dog is it? How will it find its master? Early readers will be surprised to find out what happens in this little-known true story about America’s first president.”
Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May? by Jean Fritz
“Patrick Henry wasn’t particularly well spoken. As a lawyer, he mumbled through some of his early cases. But when the issue was freedom, Patrick Henry was transformed into a natural orator. Jean Fritz makes history come alive as she chronicles the life of a man who moved a nation.”
Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington by Jabari Asim
“Born into slavery, young Booker T. Washington could only dream of learning to read and write. After emancipation, Booker began a five-hundred-mile journey to Hampton Institute, taking his first steps towards a college degree. When he arrived, he had just fifty cents in his pocket and a dream about to come true. The young slave who once waited outside of the schoolhouse would one day become a legendary educator of freedmen.”
Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything by Maira Kalman
“Thomas Jefferson is perhaps best known for writing the Declaration of Independence—but there’s so much more to discover. This energetic man was interested in everything. He played violin, spoke seven languages and was a scientist, naturalist, botanist, mathematician and architect. He designed his magnificent home, Monticello, was our first foodie, and advocated a mostly vegetarian diet. And oh yes, as our third president, he doubled the size of the United States and sent Lewis and Clark to explore it. He also started the Library of Congress and said, “I cannot live without books.” But monumental figures can have monumental flaws, and Jefferson was no exception. Although he called slavery an “abomination,” he owned about 150 slaves. Maira Kalman shares a president’s remarkable, complicated life with young readers, making history come alive with her captivating text and stunning illustrations.”
Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine
“Henry Brown doesn’t know how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves’ birthdays. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. After an arduous journey in the crate, Henry finally has a birthday on his first day of freedom.”
Books Set in Virginia (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 Virginia
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
“Barbara Kingsolver’s fifth novel weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives amid the mountains and farms of southern Appalachia. Over the course of one humid summer, this novel’s intriguing protagonists face disparate predicaments but find connections to one another and to the flora and fauna with which they necessarily share a place.”
Non-fiction Book Set In Virginia
The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed
“This epic work tells the story of the Hemingses, whose close blood ties to our third president had been systematically expunged from American history until very recently. Now, historian and legal scholar Annette Gordon-Reed traces the Hemings family from its origins in Virginia in the 1700s to the family’s dispersal after Jefferson’s death in 1826.”
And there you have it! 20 living books about Virginia. It is my hope that this book list provides you with JUST ONE book to share with your kids.
From Roanoke to Williamsburg, and from George Washington to the Civil War, I hope you find some fun things to learn about Virginia!
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
Your state book lists are amazing! I wish you would do all the states!
Thank you! Doing my best to get through the rest of the states 🙂