20th Century Book List for Young Teens

20th Century Book List for Young Teens

20th Century: World wars. A Great Depression. First flight. Space flight. Voting Rights. Civil Rights. Communism. Terrorism. Jazz. Nuclear weapons. Computers.  

The 20th Century included huge, sweeping changes, inventions, and events which, more than any century previous, connected our globe.

A reader could read for years and not cover all the books on WWII alone; clearly, this list below is not exhaustive. Rather, it’s a collection of some of the works we think are great starting points.  

Our 20th Century Book List for Young Teens includes political history, science history, social history, and Christian history in a mix of formats. Some are long, meaty titles; others are picture books or graphic novels. Many of these will be available in your local library.  

Considerations: As a group, the resources below bring up themes and ideas from this tumultuous time that are best appreciated by children 12 years old and up. More mature readers could read the regular versions of the “Young Readers Versions” listed. If you have younger children, simply wait, or pick and choose carefully.  

20th Century Book List for Young Teens

20th Century Book List for Young Teens

Titles linked to Redeemed Reader book reviews where applicable.  

Recommended Resource: The Land of Hope by Wilfred McClay. This is a solid “spine” to use as an overview and to tie the disparate parts together; being with chapter 14.



1920s-1930s: Roaring 20s and the Depression


Communism and the Cold War

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell (allegory)
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry (dystopian fiction, but clear thematic connections)
  • Refugee by Alan Gratz  (historical fiction; covers several decades)
  • The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis (picture book/graphic novel)
  • God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew (autobiography; missions)

  Civil Rights (1960s)

Vietnam War (1970s)

Space Race

Recent History

  • Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot (nonfiction; church history)
  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind Young Readers Edition by William Kwakwamba (nonfiction; science history)
  • Steve Jobs: Thinking Differently by Patricia Lakin OR Elon Musk and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance. One changed modern life through swift computing and handheld devices; the other may take us to Mars.
  • Watch video footage of: Challenger explosion, Twin Towers, Berlin Wall, etc.
  • A Twin Towers 9/11 story (there are several options)
  • Ronald Reagan: Our 40th President by Winston Groom (a good overview of the 20th century through the lens of this amazing President)

What books are YOUR favorites for the 20th century for young teens? Let us know in the comments!

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Betsy is the Managing Editor at Redeemed Reader. When she reads ahead for you, she uses sticky notes instead of book darts and willfully dog ears pages even in library books. Betsy is a fan of George MacDonald, robust book discussions, and the Oxford comma. She lives with her husband and their three children in the beautiful Northwest.


  1. JoyH on May 19, 2020 at 6:22 am

    Breaking Stalin’s Nose

    Saving My Assassin

  2. Meagan on August 31, 2020 at 8:58 am

    Favourite 9/11: Obviously ‘Thunder Dog’ (especially on Audible). Christian, true, hopeful, different-perspectivey, doggy.
    Non-fiction WWII: ‘The Woman Who Cracked Codes’.
    I’m putting so many of these suggestions on my ‘to get when finished saving for bike’ list. Thanks!

  3. Sharalyn on September 11, 2020 at 5:57 pm

    Number the stars
    Amos Fortune
    A Land Remembered
    Prairie School

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