The Victorians – books for children
Children’s books about the Victorians: here’s our selection of titles covering picture books, chapter book fiction, diary accounts and non fiction reference books. Topics covered include the lives of children, exploration, workhouses, industrial progress, engineering and scientific innovation and Queen Victoria.
Presenting a comprehensive selection of children’s books centred around the Victorian era, this carefully curated list offers an array of titles that delve into various aspects of this historical period. From fun picture books like The Great Stink and Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine to captivating narratives such as Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, the list encompasses a range of genres and themes. Noteworthy additions like Another Twist in the Tale by Catherine Bruton provide enthralling period spin-offs, while Darwin’s Dragons by Lindsay Galvin offers a captivating historical novel set against the backdrop of Victorian exploration.
Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer adds a fresh contemporary perspective, blending mystery and historical fiction and Carnival of the Lost by Kieran Larwood offers an atmospheric adventure set in Victorian times. And there are classics such as Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, which vividly portrays Victorian London through the eyes of a horse.
With a diverse variety of authors featured, this compilation ensures a rich historical fiction landscape for children, making it a valuable resource for both independent reading and cross curricular classroom exploration of the Victorian era. This list features books by Mick Manning, E.L Norry, Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Rosen, Catherine Bruton, Philip Pullman, Berlie Doherty, Terry Deary, Lindsay Galvin and Kieran Larwood.
Victorians themed books for children – our recommendations
The Victorians – picture books
The Victorians topic books for KS2
Another Twist in the Tale by Catherine Bruton
An enthralling period spin-off that follows Twill Twist, sister of Oliver Twist, as she uncovers mysteries and subterfuge in an atmospheric re-imagining of Dickensian London. A highly recommended class novel for years five or six – particularly if the Victorians are on the curriculum. Read our full review.
Darwin’s Dragons by Lindsay Galvin
There’s no fantasy about the dragons in this captivating historical novel that follows cabin boy Syms as he sets off on an expedition with Charles Darwin. Cast adrift after a storm, he finds himself the first person to experience a remote island with unexpected inhabitants. Gripping and atmospheric, this story is a great starting point for discussing evolution, and highly recommended for children in years 5&6. Read our full review.
The Midnight Hunt by Benjamin Read and Laura Trinder
Something sinister is afoot in this atmospheric and well-written adventure set in Victorian times. Can Emily save London from the Make Britain Dark Again party using only her wits and a less than awake magic hedgehog? With a fast-paced plot, tinges of fantasy and sparkling descriptions, this book is a great option for teaching in a Victorian-themed topic with years 5 or 6.
Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer
In this gripping mystery set in the Victorian East-End, Enola Holmes follows in her famous brother’s footsteps to turn detective and help find her missing mother. Atmospheric and fast moving, this is a short and satisfying middle-grade novel that will appeal to children in Years 6-8. Also available as a Netflix film.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Victorian London is vividly portrayed through the eyes of a horse – Black Beauty – in this timeless classic of children’s literature.
Carnival of the Lost by Kieran Larwood
Readers will be sucked into this adventure just like the characters being sucked into the River Thames in this uniquely strange and page-turning middle grade novel. With period typography and grungy page borders, a deliciously seedy Victorian world is evoked, with monsters, carnivals and colourful circus performers. Carnival of the Lost is throughly captivating and UKS2 teachers will love the period language, strong characters and rich descriptions.
Carnival of the Spider by Kieran Larwood, illustrated by Sam Usher
Sheba is searching for a map hidden in the catacombs of Paris in this atmospheric adventure. Can she find it in time to save Sister Moon who has been imprisoned by the Spider? With a persistent pace and a plot that never loosens its grip on the reader, children will be captivated by the vivid period world. A highly recommended book series for KS2 readers.
Her Majesty’s League of Remarkable Young Ladies by Alison D. Stegert
When 14-year-old Winnie’s father vanishes, she seizes an opportunity to help guard Queen Victoria to get close to the truth and develop much-needed spy-craft skills. But will this be enough to save her papa? An exciting mix of historical adventure, STEM mystery and powerful female protagonists, Her Majesty’s League of Remarkable Young Ladies is highly recommended for reading in years 6-8.
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The Victorians – resources for teachers
- The Historical Association offers downloadable free lessons for EYFS, KS1 and KS2, including detailing planning for Florence Nightingale, Brunel and the Clifton suspension bridge, Victorian child labour and Grace Darling.
- BBC Bitesize features a range of reading material, facts, videos, quizzes and interactive content about the Victorians, suitable for KS2.
- Oak National Academy has a free writing lesson for KS2 based on Sherlock Holmes, Victorian London and creating suspense.
- STEM learning offers an interesting range of ideas to embed STEM into your cross curricular topic lessons about Victorian life.
- The Royal Society of Chemistry shows how science can be linked into your Victorians history topic, with ready made cross curricular science links across the primary age range.
- Northumberland Archives has a great range of downloadable primary source material to help children learn about Victorian life and in particular the lives of children.
- BBC Teach class clips includes video introductions to Charles Darwin, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Pablo Fanque, Florence Nightingale and Queen Victoria. Suitable for KS2.
- English Heritage’s teaching site includes a comprehensive series of Victorians themed lesson plans, activities timelines, teacher resources and videos for KS1, KS2 and KS3 – all free to use.