Do you have young Hamilton fans in your home? Whether they were lucky enough to see a live version of the groundbreaking musical, or streamed it from the comfort of their home, this book list for kids who love Hamilton is sure to peak their interest. But aside from Hamilton groupies, these books are excellent choices for any kid hoping to increase their knowledge of late 18th century America.
I have not limited this book list to titles solely about Alexander Hamilton. Your young Hamilton fans will find lots to occupy their minds with historical fiction and nonfiction books that cover topics like the Revolutionary soldiers, early Colonial America, life just after the Revolution and the stories of those who are too often left on the margins. I've included recommended ages on this book list, but use them as a general guideline, not as a hard and fast rule!
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If these books interest you, I recommend you first check your local library or local independent bookstore for a copy. If you prefer to order books online, you can still support independent booksellers through Bookshop. For your convenience, I've curated this book list on Bookshop here.
The following biographies will teach kids a little more about Alexander and Eliza Hamilton.
Eliza: The Story of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton
by Margaret McNamara, illustrated by Esmé Shapiro
Kids who want to know more about Alexander's wife will enjoy this picture book biography. Written as a letter from Eliza to her great-granddaughter, the text is accompanied by fantastic illustrations. Eliza describes her life from childhood through her marriage and beyond. A detailed endnote gives further background on the events mentioned in the text. Ages 6 and up.
Alexander Hamilton: the Outsider
by Jean Fritz, illustrated by Ian Schoenherr
This is a very readable chapter book biography for upper elementary and middle school kids. Fritz details the events that made Alexander Hamilton into the man he was and brings his career to life. Ages 9 and up.
General American Revolution Books
Kids will love the following very accessible history books that tackle the American Revolution and the founding of a new government.
The Founding Fathers!: Those Horse-Ridin’, Fiddle-Playin’, Book-Readin’, Gun-Totin’ Gentlemen Who Started America
by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Barry Blitt
Here's a witty and fun look at some of the prominent men who played a role in the formation of America's government. Winter looks closely at fourteen gentlemen, giving a range of details from their height to nickname to political leanings and their views on slavery. Clever illustrations add to the overall entertaining nature of the text. Very well done. Ages 8 and up.
King George: What Was His Problem?: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About the American Revolution
by Steve Sheinkin, illustrated by Tim Robinson
Formatted in a reluctant-historian, reader-reluctant friendly fashion, with lots of sub-sections, quotes, maps and illustration, this book is an informative delight. Sheinkin begins his narration by offering up the idea that his book is a "step-by-step guide to starting a revolution." Step 1: Kick out the French." And on it goes from there. If your kid has captured the history bug after reading, give them Sheinkin's follow-up, Two Miserable Presidents: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About the Civil War. Ages 9 and up.
George Vs. George: The American Revolution As Seen from Both Sides
by Rosalyn Schanzer
Schanzer's history book is good for laying out the argument, "there are two sides to every story." She spends quality time comparing the two men, their respective governments, as well as specific events and what happened to the two Georges after the war. Unfortunately, women, Native Americans and enslaved African-Americans are given only a cursory mention. Ages 8 and up.
Voices from the Margins
I'm not entirely happy with the term "from the margins." After all, the following voices were in the thick of things and played crucial roles in the founding of the United States. But even though their voices have been pushed to the margins over the years, that is not where they need stay.
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Chains, the first book in The Seeds of America trilogy, is a fascinating view of slavery in New York, where books about slavery are most often set in the South. During the American Revolution a 13 year old slave belonging to a ruthless Loyalist family, Isabel, yearns for freedom. She meets Curzon who encourages her to spy for the Rebels. Ages 10 and up.
The People Shall Continue
by Simon J. Ortiz, illustrated by Sharol Graves
Beginning with Creation and following through to the usurpation of their lands, Ortiz has crafted a powerful and accessible history of Native Americans. It is also a story of survival and the importance of community. A must read for everyone. Ages 7 and up
Answering the Cry for Freedom: Stories of African Americans and the American Revolution
by Gretchen Woelfle, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Woelfle profiles thirteen African-Americans who lived during the American Revolution. Most of the names will be unfamiliar at first, but readers are destined never to forget their stories. I think this collection might serve the intended audience better as a read aloud rather than for independent reading. Parents and teachers can extend the conversation, and share one story at a time. Ages 9 and up.
Show Me A Sign
by Ann Clare Lezotte
Although Show Me a Sign takes place on Martha's Vineyard in 1805, I'm including it on this list of books for kids who love Hamilton because it beautifully and sensitively illustrates the challenges created when different populations came together (both by force and of their own will) in the brand new United States. Lezotte, who is herself deaf, has written a fiercely strong heroine, Mary Lambert, who lives in community where everyone speaks sign language and a quarter of the population is deaf. One day, a young man arrives in the village hoping to research the reason for the high rate of deafness. Mary narrates the story and her observations of the interactions between the English, Black, Irish, and Wampanoag peoples, as well as on racism, prejudice and ableism are perceptive and thought-provoking. The author's endnote gives historical background on the town of Chilmark and Martha's Vineyard are fascinating. Ages 9 and up.
Jefferson's Sons: A Founding Father’s Secret Children
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Historians now widely accept that Jefferson was the father of Sally Hemings' children. I was concerned that this novel might somehow romanticize life for enslaved people but after reading the excellent reviews I decided to give it a try. Bradly has done a nice job telling the story of the Hemmings' sons, Eston, Beverly and Madison, as well as his daughter, Harriet. Jefferson, while not demonized, is clearly painted as a slave holder with all the sins that accompany such a title. He plays a secondary role in the novel, however. This is the story of the enslaved people on Jefferson's estate. Ages 10 and up.
The Constitution is a complicated political document and is not often studied in a critical enough manner that points to its complex nature. After watching Hamilton and learning about the disagreements that led to the final draft, your children may want to know more about the writing of this crucial document as well its effects on the political and social lives of ordinary Americans.
Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution
by Jean Fritz, illustrated by Tomie dePaola
Fritz clearly and concisely, with a bit of humor thrown in, looks at how the "founding fathers" overcame their differences to write the Constitution. She begins with the particular difficulty of convincing states that a federal government was needed and ends with the celebration after the final state agreed to ratification. Fritz includes endnotes as well as the full text of the Constitution. Ages 7 and up.
Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws that Affect Us Today
by Cynthia and Sanford Levinson
This book is written for middle school and high school students but frankly I learned just as much as they will. This fearless look at the Constitution is so fascinating. This text will teach kids not just to see and discuss its imperfections and think critically about its role as a governing document, but to be thoughtful and active citizens. Ages 10 and up.
More books for fans of Hamilton: