It’s almost time for the 4th of July!
For many of us in the U.S., the 4th of July means family cookouts, fireworks displays, and of course, wearing red, white, and blue. But we don’t often focus on what Independence Day is all about! The 4th is a reminder of the sacrifices our forefathers made so we could enjoy life in America! Freedom is something we sometimes take for granted, and that’s why it’s totally worth celebrating. This year for the 4th of July, I’ve rounded up some fun things to do, plus books to read to remind us of what we’re celebrating and the history behind this American holiday!
Want more book suggestions, recipes, and activities? Check out my Pinterest!
Which of these books and activities are YOU going to check out? Be sure to share them with a friend, and let me know what you think over on my Instagram. Happy Fourth, everyone!
20 Middle-Grade Books about The Revolutionary War
Knowing our American history is so important! Here are some great books geared towards middle-graders that are entertaining, educational, and will get you in the patriotic spirit.
By Enigma Alberti and Laura Terry
Your Mission: Discover Anna’s secret message using spycraft tools to uncover hidden codes!
It’s a true story of the American Revolution: Meet the secret Culper Ring, a network of American spies fighting against the army of British redcoats, and historical figures like George Washington and the soon-to-be-infamous Benedict Arnold. And meet Anna Strong, an unsung heroine who found ingenious ways to communicate top-secret messages to her fellow spies, helping to save the American colonies from British rule.
It’s a mystery to solve: There are clues embedded in the book’s text and illustrations. Spycraft materials, including a cipher wheel, come in an envelope at the beginning of the book. Use them to decode Anna’s hidden message and discover the secret mission she undertook for the Culper Ring!
By Esther Forbes
Johnny Tremain, winner of the 1944 Newbery Medal, is one of the finest historical novels ever written for children. As compelling today as it was seventy years ago, to read this riveting novel is to live through the defining events leading up to the American Revolutionary War. Fourteen-year-old Johnny Tremain, an apprentice silversmith with a bright future ahead of him, injures his hand in a tragic accident, forcing him to look for other work. In his new job as a horse-boy, riding for the patriotic newspaper, The Boston Observer, and as a messenger for the Sons of Liberty, he encounters John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Dr. Joseph Warren. Soon Johnny is involved in the pivotal events shaping the American Revolution from the Boston Tea Party to the first shots fired at Lexington. Powerful illustrations by American artist Michael McCurdy bring to life Esther Forbes’s quintessential novel of the American Revolution.
By E.F. Abbott
Meet the brave girl whose midnight ride, like Paul Revere’s, made her a hero of the American Revolution, in this middle-grade historical fiction novel, part of the Based on a True Story series.
What would you do if your country was counting on you? If you had a message that only you could deliver? That’s the story of sixteen-year-old Sybil Ludington’s famous midnight ride.
In 1777, living in what is now New York, Sybil, her colonel father, and her family are Patriots, fighting against the British in the Revolutionary War. The British, however, are not the only enemy the Ludingtons’ every acquaintance, every neighbor, has the potential to be loyal to the British crown. When British troops raid Danbury, Connecticut, it is up to Sybil to get the word to her father’s men. Only two years after Paul Revere’s fateful ride, Sybil leaps atop her horse and rides the whole night through, avoiding near brushes with danger and successfully warning the Regiment.
By James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
The classic story of one family torn apart by the Revolutionary War!
The Newbery Honor Book My Brother Sam Is Dead joins the Scholastic Gold line, which features award-winning and beloved novels. Includes exclusive bonus content!
All his life, Tim Meeker has looked up to his brother Sam. Sam’s smart and brave — and is now a part of the American Revolution. Not everyone in town wants to be a part of the rebellion. Most are supporters of the British — including Tim and Sam’s father.
War is raging and Tim knows he’ll have to make a choice — between the Revolutionaries and the Redcoats . . . and between his brother and his father.
By Laurie Halse Anderson
If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl?
As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight…for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.
From acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson comes this compelling, impeccably researched novel that shows the lengths we can go to cast off our chains, both physical and spiritual. What would you risk to be free?
By Laurie Halse Anderson
Blistering winds. Bitter cold. And the hope of a new future. In this compelling sequel to Chains, a National Book Award Finalist and winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson shifts perspective from Isabel to Curzon and brings to the page the tale of what it takes for runaway slaves to forge their own paths in a world of obstacles—and in the midst of the American Revolution.
The Patriot Army was shaped and strengthened by the desperate circumstances of the Valley Forge winter. This is where Curzon the boy becomes Curzon the young man. In addition to the hardships of soldiering, he lives with the fear of discovery, for he is an escaped slave passing for free. And then there is Isabel, who is also at Valley Forge—against her will. She and Curzon have to sort out the tangled threads of their friendship while figuring out what stands between the two of them and true freedom.
By Laurie Halse Anderson
Return to the American Revolution in this blistering conclusion to the Seeds of America trilogy that began with the bestselling National Book Award Finalist Chains and continued with Forge, which Kirkus Reviews called “the best book you’ll ever read.”
As the Revolutionary War rages on, Isabel and Curzon have narrowly escaped Valley Forge—but their relief is short-lived. Before long they are reported as runaways, and the awful Bellingham is determined to track them down. With purpose and faith, Isabel and Curzon march on, fiercely determined to find Isabel’s little sister Ruth, who is enslaved in a Southern state—where bounty hunters are thick as flies.
Heroism and heartbreak pave their path, but Isabel and Curzon won’t stop until they reach Ruth, and then freedom, in this grand finale to the acclaimed New York Times bestselling trilogy from Laurie Halse Anderson.
By Laurie Halse Anderson
Listen up! You’ve all heard about the great men who led and fought during the American Revolution; but did you know that the guys only make up part of the story? What about the women? The girls? The dames? Didn’t they play a part?
Of course they did, and with page after page of superbly researched information and thoughtfully detailed illustrations, acclaimed novelist and picture-book author Laurie Halse Anderson and charismatic illustrator Matt Faulkner prove the case in this entertaining, informative, and long overdue homage to those independent dames!
By Rosalyn Schanzer
There are two sides to every story. Rosalyn Schanzer’s engaging and wonderfully illustrated book brings to life both sides of the American Revolution.
The narrative introduces anew the two enemies, both named George: George Washington, the man who freed the American colonies from the British, and George III, the British king who lost them. Two leaders on different sides of the Atlantic, yet with more in common than we sometimes acknowledge. We are lead through their story and the story of their times, and see both sides of the arguments that divided the colonies from the Kingdom. Was King George a “Royal Brute” as American patriots claimed? Or was he, as others believed, “the father of the people?” Was George Washington a scurrilous traitor, as all the king’s supporters claimed? Or should we remember and celebrate him as “the father of his country?” Who was right? History teaches us that there are two sides to every story.
By Lauren Tarshis
British soldiers were everywhere. There was no escape. Nathaniel Fox never imagined he’d find himself in the middle of a blood-soaked battlefield, fighting for his life. He was only eleven years old! He’d barely paid attention to the troubles between America and England. How could he, while being worked to the bone by his cruel uncle, Uriah Storch?
But when his uncle’s rage forces him to flee the only home he knows, Nate is suddenly propelled toward a thrilling and dangerous journey into the heart of the Revolutionary War. He finds himself in New York City on the brink of what will be the biggest battle yet.
Jonathan may be only thirteen years old, but with the Revolutionary War unfolding around him, he’s more certain than ever that he wants to be a part of it—to fight for independence alongside his brother and cousin to defeat the British. But Jonathan’s father, himself wounded from battle, refuses to let his son join the front lines.
When Jonathan hears the tavern bell toll, calling all soldiers to arms, he rushes to enlist without telling his dad. Gun in hand, Jonathan falls in with a militia and marches onward to the fighting ground. It feels like he’s been waiting his whole life for this moment.
But no amount of daydreaming could prepare Jonathan for what he encounters. In just twenty-four hours, his life will be forever changed—by his fellow soldiers, unsuspecting enemies, and the frightening and complicated realities of war. More than thirty years after its publication, award-winner The Fighting Ground continues to be an important work of historical fiction for young readers.
In 1776, young Sophia Calderwood witnesses the execution of Nathan Hale in New York City, which is newly occupied by the British army. Sophia is horrified by the event and resolves to do all she can to help the American cause. Recruited as a spy, she becomes a maid in the home of General Clinton, the supreme commander of the British forces in America. Through her work, she becomes aware that someone in the American army might be switching sides, and she uncovers a plot that will grievously damage the Americans if it succeeds. But the identity of the would-be traitor is so shocking that no one believes her, and so Sophia decides to stop the treacherous plot herself, at great personal peril: She’s young, she’s a girl, and she’s running out of time. And if she fails, she’s facing an execution of her own.
Master storyteller Avi shows exactly how personal politics can be in this “nail-biting thriller” (Publishers Weekly) that is rich in historical detail and rife with action.
By Gary Paulsen
Samuel, 13, spends his days in the forest, hunting for food for his family. He has grown up on the frontier of a British colony, America. Far from any town, or news of the war against the King that American patriots have begun near Boston.
But the war comes to them. British soldiers and Iroquois attack. Samuel’s parents are taken away, prisoners. Samuel follows, hiding, moving silently, determined to find a way to rescue them. Each day he confronts the enemy and the tragedy and horror of this war. But he also discovers allies, men and women working secretly for the patriot cause. And he learns that he must go deep into enemy territory to find his parents: all the way to the British headquarters, New York City.
By Elvira Woodruff
A mysterious rowboat transports five adventurous kids back in time to the eve of the Battle at Trenton where they experience the American Revolution. Through encounters with Hessian soldiers, revolutionaries, and even George Washington himself, Matthew, Quentin, Hooter, Tony, and Katie watch history unfold before their eyes as they see first-hand, the grim realities of war and the cost of freedom.
By Elvira Woodruff
This historic time-travel fantasy is a riveting sequel to a bestselling classic.
Ten-year-old Matt Carlton and six friends are accidentally swept back in time–to Boston in 1776! The British now occupy the city, and redcoat guards are everywhere! While the boys are being held captive by a den of Patriot spies, the girls have been taken in by a wealthy Tory family.
The pox is rampant; danger lies around every corner–and there’s no hope for returning home to their own time. How will these seven children survive?
Readers will relish the nonstop action and humorous dialogue in this riveting sequel to Woodruff’s bestselling novel, George Washington’s Socks.
By Kay Winters
Follow an errand boy through colonial Boston as he spreads word of rebellion.
It’s December 16, 1773, and Boston is about to explode! King George has decided to tax the colonists’ tea. The Patriots have had enough. Ethan, the printer’s errand boy, is running through town to deliver a message about an important meeting. As he stops along his route at the bakery, the schoolhouse, the tavern, and more readers learn about the occupations of colonial workers and their differing opinions about living under Britain’s rule. This fascinating book is like a field trip to a living history village.
By Libby Carty McNamee
#1 GOLD AWARD WINNER IN JUVENILE FICTION, 2020 INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER BOOK AWARDS (“IPPY AWARDS”) THE REVOLUTION RESTS IN HER HANDS! As the former Colonies struggle for freedom, the American Revolution is in the hands of a brave and resourceful teenage girl. At sixteen, Susanna Bolling is like America in rebellion; she craves independence. While her brothers are off fighting for the Patriots, she longs to do more than tedious household chores and attend spinning bees in sleepy City Point, Virginia.
When British General Cornwallis invades her family’s Bollingbrook Plantation, she overhears his secret plan to defeat the Patriots. Much to her shock, she finds herself at the center of the war. Now America’s fight for liberty hinges on her. But can she overcome her mother’s objections, face her own fears, and outwit the famed General and his entire Army? The TRUE story of revolutionary courage and conviction that’s sure to captivate readers of all ages.
By Kathryn Goodwin Tone
An action-packed novel that doubles as a history lesson.
The King’s Broad Arrow tells two stories of transformation. The first is that of Sam Nevens, a boy reluctant to be swept away by the revolutionary fervor taking over the colonies in 1775. Sam is outwardly skeptical of his responsibility to fight and inwardly doubtful of his own courage. He is tested and transformed by a remarkable journey which includes: being trapped on a British prison ship; hiding out in occupied Boston; joining Paul Revere in a search for gunpowder for the Continental Army; helping Thomas Paine print American Crisis; engaging in philosophical discussions with George Washington; meeting a beautiful Loyalist spy, and fighting alongside Alexander Hamilton. By the end of his journey, Sam has grown into a young man confident in himself and his devotion to the Revolution.
Book One in the Treegate Series: By Leonard Wibberley
The year is 1769, and wealthy merchant John Treegate is a solid citizen of Boston, who is loyal to his British King. John has taught his eleven-year-old son Peter to be loyal too, and wanting nothing more than his father’s approval, Peter always does as told.
But when his father is called back to England on business, Peter is left behind and apprenticed to a maker of barrel staves. Alone and feeling abandoned, Peter experiences the hardships of Boston’s working-class citizens for the first time.
When Peter is framed for murder and with no father at home to protect him, Peter is forced to flee Boston on a smuggler’s brig, sending him on a series of adventures on the high seas and across the untamed lands of the Carolinas that will challenge everything his father ever taught him to believe about England, America, and the impending Revolutionary War…
John Treegate’s Musket is the first in a seven-book series, which makes a great companion to study the Revolutionary War era.
By Nathan Hale
Meet America’s first spy Nathan Hale in this installment of the New York Times bestselling graphic novel series!
“I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” These are the famous last words of Nathan Hale, a spy for the American rebels in the Revolutionary War.
But who was this Nathan Hale? And how did the rebels defeat an army that was bigger, better, stronger, and more heavily armed than they were? One Dead Spy has answers to these questions, as well as stories of ingenuity, close calls with danger, and acts of heroism in the American War of Independence.
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales are graphic novels that tell the thrilling, shocking, gruesome, and TRUE stories of American history.
Fun Fourth of July Activities
Get ready to have the best 4th of July ever with these fun activities that you can do alone or with family and friends for an unforgettable holiday!
1. Make a festive dish!
Even if you’re not very skilled in the kitchen, there are so many fun and easy recipes around the web that are perfect for the 4th of July. Some of my favorites? Try this red, white, and blue fruit pizza, these yummy candy-coated pretzels, or this patriotic punch! I’ve been on an ice-cream sandwich kick lately, so these look super yummy!
2. Create your own sparkler display.
This year many states have canceled their 4th of July firework displays and events. But you can always light up the sky from home! Buy a bunch of sparklers and gather family and friends for a night full of bright lights all your own! (Be sure to check with your parents on this one, and have some supervision.) If you want to take things up a notch, here’s a fun, photo-worthy activity to do with your sparklers!
3. Host a picnic.
Here’s an easy way to make your holiday feel extra special. Invite family or a few close friends, then grab a basket, a huge blanket, and maybe some sandwiches and lemonade. Head to your favorite park, lake, or even the backyard and have a 4th of July picnic! Bonus points if you bring the music and a fun lawn game for everyone to play. You can even include your pets in the fun!
4. Decorate your bike, scooter, etc!
Do you love cruising around in the great outdoors? Then why not decorate your bike, scooter, or skateboard for the 4th of July? You can always use supplies like flags, streamers, and balloons to add some festive spirit to your wheels. My Pinterest board also has a ton of great ideas and inspiration to get you started! Bonus points if you can get a few of your friends involved, and host your own mini 4th of July parade.
5. Plan a 4th of July craft.
Last but not least, the holidays are pretty much the best time to do a fun themed craft! If you’re the creative type, try out doing some patriotic chalk art (my personal favorite right now)! You can also make these homemade pop rockets, this awesome rag flag, or the perfect tie-dye t-shirt you can wear all summer long.
Will you try out any of these activities or books? I’d love to hear how it goes, so let me know. Happy 4th of July everyone!