Historical Novels for Children: The Vietnam Era

The Vietnam War stretched from 1955 to 1975 and was instrumental in changing how Americans viewed the country's level of involvement in foreign affairs. The novels in this list take place during that time, but not always from the persectives of Americans.

The Vietnam War stretched from 1955 to 1975 and was instrumental in changing how Americans viewed the country's level of involvement in foreign affairs. The novels in this list take place during that time, but not always from the persectives of Americans.

Share this series

Hold On Tight

Author: Klassen, Heather

Subjects: American History; Vietnam War; Family Relationships; Peace Movement

Age: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Grade: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

ISBN: 978-0-88092-716-1

Order code: 7161

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Hold On Tight Cover

It’s the 1960s, a time when America and families were being torn apart by the Vietnam War. When Suzanne’s older brother Bobby is drafted, Suzanne’s mother wants them all to move to Canada, but he enlists to fight. Suzanne and her mother join the protesters against the war, but Suzanne’s father thinks that patriotic Americans should support the war the way they did when he fought in World War II. The divisions in the family reflect the divisions in the country when differences about the war played a major part in fomenting hostile confrontations throughout the land.

Against a background of box hockey games, the first landing on the moon, and the music of Bob Dylan, Suzanne not only has to contend with missing her brother, she also must see her mother’s pain and watch her parents grow distant from each other amidst their resentment. She also has to decide where she herself stands on the issues, to cope with the consequences, and to deal with her brother's ultimate fate.

This novel provides vivid insights into the era and into the disagreements that defined a decade that brought tragedy to so many.

Author Heather Klassen is a writer of books for children and young adults. She has more than 400 short stories published, including award-winning pieces in Highlights for Children. One of her stories was reprinted in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul II (1998). Through her writing, she is interested in trying to influence young people to think about social issues, particularly those of peace and justice. As a child in the '60s, she was greatly affected by the Vietnam War, but Hold On Tight is a fictional account. Klassen says that Suzanne’s voice “just came to me. It was easy to let her tell her story, influenced so much by the love she had for her older brother.”

Klassen has a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in child development. She is an instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature. She is married with two grown children and lives in Lynnwood, Washington. 

Review:

"This is a beautiful, moving novella with a great deal of meaning.... Klassen writes with a lyrical, almost stream-of-consciousness style that is unique in children’s books these days. I read the first two chapters with my seven-year-old at bedtime, and he loved it so much that he woke up early the next morning to finish it on his own. Kudos to Royal Fireworks for publishing this. They took a risk on a story worth telling." – parent 

It’s the 1960s, a time when America and families were being torn apart by the Vietnam War. When Suzanne’s older brother Bobby is drafted, Suzanne’s mother wants them all to move to Canada, but he enlists to fight. Suzanne and her mother join the protesters against the war, but Suzanne’s father thinks that patriotic Americans should support the war the way they did when he fought in World War II. The divisions in the family reflect the divisions in the country when differences about the war played a major part in fomenting hostile confrontations throughout the land.

Against a background of box hockey games, the first landing on the moon, and the music of Bob Dylan, Suzanne not only has to contend with missing her brother, she also must see her mother’s pain and watch her parents grow distant from each other amidst their resentment. She also has to decide where she herself stands on the issues, to cope with the consequences, and to deal with her brother's ultimate fate.

This novel provides vivid insights into the era and into the disagreements that defined a decade that brought tragedy to so many.

Author Heather Klassen is a writer of books for children and young adults. She has more than 400 short stories published, including award-winning pieces in Highlights for Children. One of her stories was reprinted in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul II (1998). Through her writing, she is interested in trying to influence young people to think about social issues, particularly those of peace and justice. As a child in the '60s, she was greatly affected by the Vietnam War, but Hold On Tight is a fictional account. Klassen says that Suzanne’s voice “just came to me. It was easy to let her tell her story, influenced so much by the love she had for her older brother.”

Klassen has a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in child development. She is an instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature. She is married with two grown children and lives in Lynnwood, Washington. 

Review:

"This is a beautiful, moving novella with a great deal of meaning.... Klassen writes with a lyrical, almost stream-of-consciousness style that is unique in children’s books these days. I read the first two chapters with my seven-year-old at bedtime, and he loved it so much that he woke up early the next morning to finish it on his own. Kudos to Royal Fireworks for publishing this. They took a risk on a story worth telling." – parent

Hold On Tight Cover

Hold On Tight Sample Pages:

Strangers in Black

Author: Max, Jill

Subjects: History; Personal Experience; Khmer Rouge

Age: 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Grade: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

ISBN: 978-0-88092-617-1

Order code: 6171

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Also an iBook from iTunes

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 6171S

Strangers in Black Cover

This is a novel about a young boy's struggle to survive the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. It is a graphic and horrific account of what befalls Mok and his family when Pol Pot's regime ousts the corrupt president Lon Nol. At first the people of Cambodia are happy, but their joy ends quickly when they discover that the Khmer Rouge are brutal assassins who beat, starve, and force even young children to work in inhumane conditions, all while spewing propaganda that they are serving a greater good.

Mok is nine years old when the atrocities begin, and through persistence, incredible courage, and luck, he survives one of the most barbaric episodes in the last half of the twentieth century. On page after page, readers are led into the increasingly desperate plight of Mok and to an understanding of the cruelty of the Khmer Rouge and the enormity of what took place in Cambodia.

This true story describes young Mok's experiences of the grinding pains of hunger, debilitating disease, forced labor, separated families, and massacres. An epilogue tells us that his family finally made it to a refugee camp in Thailand and thereafter was sponsored to enter the U.S. to begin a new life in Oklahoma.

This is a novel about a young boy's struggle to survive the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. It is a graphic and horrific account of what befalls Mok and his family when Pol Pot's regime ousts the corrupt president Lon Nol. At first the people of Cambodia are happy, but their joy ends quickly when they discover that the Khmer Rouge are brutal assassins who beat, starve, and force even young children to work in inhumane conditions, all while spewing propaganda that they are serving a greater good.

Mok is nine years old when the atrocities begin, and through persistence, incredible courage, and luck, he survives one of the most barbaric episodes in the last half of the twentieth century. On page after page, readers are led into the increasingly desperate plight of Mok and to an understanding of the cruelty of the Khmer Rouge and the enormity of what took place in Cambodia.

This true story describes young Mok's experiences of the grinding pains of hunger, debilitating disease, forced labor, separated families, and massacres. An epilogue tells us that his family finally made it to a refugee camp in Thailand and thereafter was sponsored to enter the U.S. to begin a new life in Oklahoma.

Strangers in Black Cover

Strangers in Black Sample Pages:

My Country: My Lee Comes to America

Author: Beyer, Elmira K.

Subjects: Immigration; English as a Second Language (ESL); Hmong; Cross-Cultural Understanding

Age: 8, 9, 10, 11

Grade: 3, 4, 5, 6

Order code: 0440

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 0440S

My Country: My Lee Comes to America Cover

A Kansas State Reading Council Choice: “A realistic look at one of America’s new young immigrants”

My Lee Comes to America is the story of a Hmong family recently arrived in America, where traditions and everyday life are drastically different from those of their former home. The family moves into a mixed neighborhood and enrolls the children in a school with an ESL program; so begins the family’s adaptation to new ways while maintaining their own traditional ethical and moral values. The book explores the problems of being accepted into the neighborhood, male/female roles and expectations, the family view of education in general and for girls in particular, and the problems the children and the adults encounter from their lack of knowledge of the English language.

The novel is written from the perspective of little My Lee, who acts for readers as a bridge between the two worlds of her family and the wider American culture. Intelligent and respectful, her experiences and her thoughts about them show us problems in the making and their thoughtful resolutions. While demurring to her older brother and his role, she is personally concerned with making friends and participating in school activities that in America are normal for all students but are frowned upon for girls in her family’s culture. And she desperately wants to learn to play the violin.

A Kansas State Reading Council Choice: “A realistic look at one of America’s new young immigrants”

My Lee Comes to America is the story of a Hmong family recently arrived in America, where traditions and everyday life are drastically different from those of their former home. The family moves into a mixed neighborhood and enrolls the children in a school with an ESL program; so begins the family’s adaptation to new ways while maintaining their own traditional ethical and moral values. The book explores the problems of being accepted into the neighborhood, male/female roles and expectations, the family view of education in general and for girls in particular, and the problems the children and the adults encounter from their lack of knowledge of the English language.

The novel is written from the perspective of little My Lee, who acts for readers as a bridge between the two worlds of her family and the wider American culture. Intelligent and respectful, her experiences and her thoughts about them show us problems in the making and their thoughtful resolutions. While demurring to her older brother and his role, she is personally concerned with making friends and participating in school activities that in America are normal for all students but are frowned upon for girls in her family’s culture. And she desperately wants to learn to play the violin.

My Country: My Lee Comes to America Cover

You are viewing Home-based Switch to school-based